Health screening is important for detecting medical conditions early so they are easier to treat. Screening can keep you from developing serious complications, such as advanced cancer when cancer is caught in the initial stages. In addition to annual wellness exams that include blood testing for diabetes and cholesterol, blood pressure checks, and skin cancer screening, women need to undergo other types of screening on a regular schedule. Here are some of the health screening tests for women that your doctor may recommend.
Tests For Cervical Cancer
Two tests that can detect cancer in the early stages are the Pap smear and HPV test. The Pap smear involves taking a swab of your cervix and analyzing it in the lab for abnormal cells. The HPV test is similar in that it also detects early cervical cancer, and it also detects the virus that causes genital warts. Your gynecologist will recommend a schedule for undergoing these tests along with a full pelvic examination based on your age, sexual activity, and the results of previous testing.
If you are sexually active with multiple partners, then you are at a higher risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease. Your gynecologist may want to test you annually for STDs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. This is important for protecting your health and for reducing the spread of the infections in the community. You may also be tested as needed for HIV, especially when you plan to become pregnant. The frequency of testing for STD infections is often determined by your sexual history and risk factors.
Breast Cancer Screening
Opinions are mixed about the need to get regular mammograms and the age to start, so this is something you'll need to discuss with your doctor. If breast cancer tends to run in your family, your doctor may want you to have a mammogram each year. Your doctor will consider your risk factors and family medical history along with your age in determining whether to recommend mammograms as a screening tool for breast cancer. However, you'll probably be encouraged to have an annual physical breast examination that includes feeling the breast for lumps and other abnormalities. In addition, you can do your own breast exams at home so you can detect changes in your breast tissue if they should occur.
Bone Density Screening
While men can get osteoporosis too, the condition is more common in women. That's because women tend to have thinner bones to start with, and they lose bone density quicker due to hormonal changes in menopause. Osteoporosis may not have many noticeable symptoms until you fracture a bone. For that reason, women are often encouraged to have a bone density scan at least once as they approach their senior years.
Depending on the outcome of the test, you may need to have the bone density test repeated on a set schedule, especially if you start taking medications to promote bone health. Follow up tests tell how well the medications are working, and they help track the progression of your osteoporosis. While the initial bone density test is usually done once you've gone through menopause, your doctor may order it earlier in life if you have risk factors or frequent fractures.
All of these tests are easy to undergo and are very important in maintaining good health as you age. These female-related tests are just a few of the many health screenings you'll need to assess the health of your eyes, ears, skin, bones, and organs as you age. Preventing medical complications and treating them early when they develop is an important part of staying healthy through adulthood. For more information and options for tests, talk with a local OBGYN, such as Holzhauer, James L.