Medical tests and annual heath screenings for women are frequently used as a crucial component of preventive healthcare. Annual health screening tests are used not just to diagnose the disorders once symptoms appear but also to make sure you are living a healthy and sound life. Regular medical checkups and screenings increase a person’s chance of getting an early diagnosis if they do develop a medical condition. This process leads to better outcomes and a longer lifespan.
The likelihood that a potential issue can be avoided by interventions like medications or lifestyle changes is increased by the ability of doctors to compare test results over time as a result of routine screenings. Doctors will typically recommend a screening schedule for adults, depending on age, which includes routine physical examinations, body mass index (BMI), skin checks, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, eye exams, immunizations, and screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
Depending on your personal and family medical history, your risk for particular diseases, and your age, you may need different types of routine screenings. For instance, while the majority of young adults don’t require routine colonoscopies, doctors may advise them if they have a family history of polyps or colon cancer. You might also be a good candidate for genetic testing, which can determine whether you have a high risk of contracting a particular disease if you have a family history.
There are additional tests specific to women’s health (such as mammograms) that should also become a regular part of preventive healthcare, even though many routine screenings are crucial for everyone. Consult your doctor about the appropriate tests for you.
Annual Health Screening Tests for Women
Because of how women’s bodies are anatomically set up, they are more vulnerable to certain health conditions, compared to men, making screening tests more crucial. A person’s age also affects hormonal and sociological factors, which can raise their risk of contracting a variety of diseases.
The list of important Annual health screening tests that women need to schedule regularly is provided below.
Breast cancer screening
Clinical examinations and screening mammograms are the main components of breast cancer screening. A clinical breast examination may be performed by your doctor if you are between the ages of 18 and 39.
According to the American Cancer Society, women between the ages of 45 and 54 should get mammograms annually, and women between the ages of 40 and 44 can choose to begin screening every year (discuss the risk with our doctor). Mammograms should be performed every two years for women over the age of 55.
If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, the screening is more crucial. Your healthcare provider will perform a screening on you to determine whether you are at increased risk for breast cancers that are more dangerous and linked to specific genes, like BRCA1 or BRCA 2. Your doctor might suggest genetic counseling or BRCA testing if you are at high risk.
Cervical cancer screening Annual Health Screening for Women
Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and Pap smears are both used in cervical cancer screening. Your cervix’s cells can be examined with a Pap smear by a doctor to determine your risk of cervical cancer, which is highly treatable when found early. For all women over the age of 21, it is advised that routine pelvic exams and Pap smears be performed at least once every three years. The health of your reproductive organs, such as your vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vulva, and cervix, can also be checked during a pelvic exam. Your doctor will inquire if you have a family history of cancer, are experiencing symptoms like vaginal bleeding or cysts, have ever had a STI, or have any of the other conditions mentioned above.
Tests of thyroid function
Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), the thyroid glands’ two primary hormones, are involved in metabolism regulation. Adults should have total T4 levels between 5.0 and 12.0 g/dL and total T3 levels between 80 and 220 ng/dL. Additionally, it has been noted that women are more likely than men to experience thyroid disorders. Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone levels, can slow your metabolism and result in symptoms like fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, and irregular menstrual cycles, while hyperthyroidism, or high thyroid hormone levels, can result in symptoms like an accelerated heartbeat, anxiety, rapid weight loss, difficulty falling asleep, etc. If you are having thyroid issues, your doctor will order a thyroid function test for you.
Vitamin deficiency tests
According to several reports, vitamin D and B12 deficiencies are more common in women. Consequently, vitamin levels are crucial for your best possible health. Evidence suggests that women who are pregnant or planning pregnancies may experience serious consequences if they don’t get enough vitamin B12. In addition, vitamin D levels are essential for calcium absorption and bone health. It has been noted that older women, who are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, tend to have more bone disorders. Therefore, to avoid its effects, your doctor can advise you to have your vitamin levels checked.
Checking blood pressure
Menopause, pregnancy complications, stress, and other hormonal and lifestyle factors can affect a woman’s blood pressure, which can increase her risk of heart disease. For people with normal blood pressure, starting at age 20, a biannual checkup is advised. You should have your blood pressure checked annually if your systolic ranges from 120 to 139 or your diastolic ranges from 80 to 89 mm Hg. However, your doctor may advise routine monitoring if your blood pressure reading is abnormally high or low. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney issues, or another condition, you might also require additional testing.
Starting around age 45, doctors typically recommend that women get blood glucose tests every three years to check for diabetes or pre-diabetes, or if their blood pressure is above 135/80 or their cholesterol levels are high. Family history, inactivity, and a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 25 are additional risk factors. If you are considering becoming pregnant and have other risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure, getting tested for diabetes is more important. In general, a fasting plasma glucose test reading of 100 mg/dl or higher is indicative of prediabetic, while levels greater than 126 mg/dl are suggestive of diabetes. The range for normal tests can vary. To make a final diagnosis, your doctor may also want to consider the HbA1c value and blood sugar readings taken after meals.
Lipid panel test
A lipid panel is essential because it checks your triglyceride and cholesterol levels and serves as a tool to assess your risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Given that high cholesterol levels do not manifest any significant symptoms, these tests become even more crucial. The advice suggests that beginning at age 20, you should check your cholesterol at least once every five years. However, people with a family history of heart disease or other risk factors, such as obesity or diabetes, may need to have this test performed more frequently; make sure to check with your doctor about this. Repeat testing is necessary if your lifestyle changes, such as weight gain and dietary changes, occur.
Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests.
A test for HPV looks for HPV DNA in cells from your cervix. The lower portion of the uterus (womb), which opens into the vagina, is known as the cervix. A sexually transmitted infection (STI) called HPV typically goes away on its own. If HPV is left untreated, it can result in abnormal cervical cells and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is more likely to be brought on by specific HPV types. Your doctor can find out if you have HPV and what type it is from the HPV test.
Your life may be saved by a Pap test. Early cervical cancer cell detection is possible. If cervical cancer is discovered early on, there is a very high chance that the disease will be successfully treated. Precancers, or abnormal cervical cells, can also be found using Pap tests. Over 95% of the time, cervical cancer can be avoided by removing these precancers. Your doctor can learn more about the cells from your cervix thanks to an HPV test. For instance, the HPV test can reveal whether you have a particular type of HPV that causes cervical cancer if the Pap test reveals abnormal cervical cells.
Cancer screening involves looking for early warning signs of the disease. During a skin cancer screening, your entire body’s skin is examined for any indications of skin cancer. Skin cancer symptoms are visible to the naked eye. Skin cancer is a very common condition, and screening can help detect it when it’s still treatable. A skin cancer screening can be performed by your healthcare provider, and you can also check your skin. You should check your skin for birthmarks, moles, and other areas with unusual color, size, shape, or texture as part of a skin cancer screening. You might need tests to determine whether a patch of skin that doesn’t look normal is cancerous.
Basal cells and carcinomas of squamous cells are the most prevalent varieties of skin cancer. Rarely do these cancers spread to other body regions, and treatment typically results in a cure. Skin cancer of the melanoma variety is less frequent but more dangerous. It is more likely to spread to nearby tissues and other areas of your body because of this. It might be fatal and harder to treat. If melanoma is discovered when it is only present in the top layer of skin, it is simpler to treat. Additionally, early treatment reduces the likelihood of it being fatal.
A bone density scan
The calcium and other minerals in your bones are measured by a bone density scan, also referred to as a DEXA scan. The measurement aids in displaying the strength and thickness of your bones, also referred to as bone mass or density.
As people age, their bones typically become thinner. Osteopenia refers to the thinning of the bones beyond normal. You are more susceptible to osteoporosis, a more severe condition, if you have osteopenia. Osteoporosis is a condition that progressively weakens and fractures bones. Osteoporosis typically affects older individuals and is more prevalent in women over 65. Osteoporosis patients are more likely to experience fractures (broken bones), particularly in the hips, spine, and wrists.
Other names used for bone density tests are:- Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry; bone mineral density test; BMD test; DEXA scan.
Using a bone density scan, you can:
- Test osteopenia (low bone mass) diagnosis
- Identify osteoporosis
- Identify future fracture risk
- Check the efficacy of your osteoporosis treatment.
What are the test’s potential risks?
The majority of a physical exam’s components are risk-free. When the needle is inserted into the vein to withdraw blood during a blood test, there may be some minor discomfort and pain. Following the removal of the needle, a tiny bruise might appear where it was inserted. In a few days, this bruise ought to disappear.
While a physical examination is widely regarded as a great way to get a comprehensive picture of a person’s health, not all medical professionals agree that it should be done annually. Unnecessary worry may result from some abnormal test results. The ideal time for your annual physical examination should be discussed with your doctor.