Prevention is better than cure. A lot of conditions affecting women are curable, especially when detected early. That’s the reason why it’s crucial to get all the necessary health checks. Below are some of the most common screening tests for women.
Let’s highlight that all routine checks administered during your regular check-ups are as necessary as the individual screening tests we’ll discuss below.
Examples of these essential health checks for women are blood pressure checks, electrocardiogram (ECG), glucose test to detect diabetes, urine and stool tests, blood works to assess cholesterol, and vision tests. You can get some of these tests annually, while the other screening procedures are ordered as needed.
Breast self-exam and mammograms
First on our list are breast self-exam (BSE) and mammograms, which can help you spot breast cancer early on.
Breast self-exam is something you can do at home by palpating your breast for any lumps. It’s best done 7 days after your period starts, when your breasts are tender or swollen. For a step-by-step procedure for BSE, you can head over to this article.
Another screening test to detect breast cancer is the mammogram, which is an x-ray of your breast. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), regular mammograms are the best tool to detect breast cancer early, sometimes even 3 years before you can feel it.
Pelvic exam, Pap smear, and HPV testing
We cannot talk about the most important health checks in women without mentioning the pelvic exam, Pap smear, and HPV testing.
A pelvic exam allows the doctor to check your reproductive organs through observation and palpation. The exam may come with a Pap smear and HPV testing, which collect cervical cell samples to look for abnormalities that may point to cervical cancer.
Most women undergo their first pelvic exam, along with Pap smear and HPV testing, once they reach 21 years old.
Vaginal Wet Mount Test
If you’re experiencing vaginitis or the inflammation of your vagina and its surrounding tissues (vulva), the doctor may order a vaginal wet mount test to identify the cause of infection or inflammation.
This procedure is quickly over within a few minutes. It can identify vaginal yeast infections, some sexually-transmitted infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis.
If you’re experiencing pelvic pain or unexplained vaginal bleeding, the doctor may order a transvaginal (TVS) ultrasound.
In this procedure, the sonographer inserts an ultrasound probe into the vagina. The probe releases sound waves that produce images of your reproductive organs, including the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
With this test, the doctor can detect or confirm conditions like ectopic pregnancy, uterine fibroids (myoma), endometriosis, and infertility. Moreover, it can also help assess your baby’s condition if you’re pregnant.
Did you know that elderly women are more likely to develop thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism? For this reason, a thyroid test is also one of the common screening tests for women.
Women who are 50 years old and above are advised to undergo a thyroid test, a blood test that determines thyroid-stimulating hormone level every 5 years. This test determines if your thyroids are functioning properly or if it is already underactive or overactive.
Bone mineral density test
When bones lose minerals, they become less dense, weaker, and more prone to breakage (fractures). To check if your bones are doing well, especially if you’re over the age of 65, your doctor may order a bone density scan.
In this test, you’ll lie on the examination table while an x-ray machine captures images of your bones.
Depending on the results, your doctor will advise you on the frequency by which you need to undergo the test.
Women at risk or have a family history of colon cancer may need a colonoscopy every 2 to 5 years.
In this test, the doctor sedates you and inserts a thin instrument to visualize your rectum and large intestine for abnormalities.
These procedures help you detect health conditions and increase the chance of good outcomes. But, here’s an important note: you cannot take these tests without talking to your doctor.
For this reason, don’t skip your routine medical check-ups and set an appointment with your physician if you have unexplained symptoms.
Learn more about Screening and Tests for Women here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.