The anatomical setup of a woman’s body makes her more prone to certain medical conditions, particularly autoimmune disorders. Therefore, performing a routine health screening is of utmost importance.
Having medical tests regularly will help identify warning signs early of diseases, and diagnose and treat potential problems promptly.
Without further ado, here are the important medical tests you must get done as a woman.
- Pap smear
A pap smear, also called a pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer.
The test is done to check for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on a woman’s cervix — which is the opening of her uterus.
The cells from the cervix are gently scraped away and examined for abnormal growth during this procedure.
Even though the test might be mildly uncomfortable, it doesn’t cause long-term pain and it helps detect cervical cancer and encourages fast treatment when detected early.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a woman should start taking a pap smear from age 21, with a basic screen every three years until age 65 — after which it is only safe to stop being tested according to the doctor’s recommendation; and that is if you have had several tests in a row that didn’t find cancer within the previous 10 years.
The current guidelines from the American Cancer Society also recommend that people between the ages of 25 and 65 should have a human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years. The HPV test can be done alone or alongside the pap test.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection that spread through sex. It is a virus that causes warts and increases the chance of cervical cancer and other cancers.
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, hence the need for women to always go for mammography.
Mammogram is an x-ray of the breast; a woman’s breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to spread out the breast tissue to detect cancer.
It’s the best way to detect breast cancer early.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women aged 40-45 can choose to get a mammography or not but from age 45-54 it must be done once a year.
It also stated that women aged 55 and above should go for the procedure every 2 years.
However, if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer you might want to see a professional.
Also, a regular self-breast examination is a must for women of all ages.
- Blood pressure test
Some hormonal and lifestyle factors in women such as menopause, pregnancy, and stress, can cause variations in blood pressure and further increase the risk of heart disease.
High blood pressure is one of the key risk factors for cardiovascular disease and it has been proven to be the leading cause of death in women.
This is why a regular blood pressure screening is recommended for women.
Starting from age 20, a biannual blood pressure screening should be done if you have normal blood pressure.
However, if your blood pressure reading is too high or too low, your doctor can recommend frequent monitoring.
It is important to have your blood pressure checked because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms so it can’t be detected without being measured.
- Pelvic exam
As a woman, you need a pelvic exam to maintain your reproductive and sexual health.
During this physical examination, your reproductive organs including the vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, vulva, ovaries, and uterus are inspected.
A pelvic exam is done to find possible signs of ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, uterine fibroids, or early-stage cancer.
Pelvic exams are also performed during pregnancy to look for abnormalities and infections.
- Diabetes screening
Having a blood test that checks your blood glucose (sugar) levels is important to reduce the risk of diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advised that adults without risk factors for diabetes should be screened for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes starting from the age of 35.
Diabetes screening is of utmost importance to women who are planning to conceive in order to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
- Sexually Transmitted Disease screening
As a sexually active woman, getting an STD screening is important to protect your health.
Women at 24 and younger have been advised to be screened at least annually for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Sometimes, STDs have no symptoms so it is important to get this screening regularly.
- Skin check
This is another test that a woman should prioritise. A skin check is a complete assessment of your skin for any sign of cancer.
This screening is recommended for women in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer as it has been proven to be one of the leading causes of death in women.
- Lipid panel
A lipid panel test is also essential as it helps check your cholesterol level and determine the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The recommendation on the lipid panel suggests that from the ages of 20 to 65, one should check his/her cholesterol level at least once in 5 years.
However, if there is a family history of heart disease or risk factors you may need to get this test done more frequently; confirm with your doctor for its frequency.
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