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Women's Health: 12 Important Health Tests Every Woman Should Take

Early detection of a disease can help prevent complications and improve one's quality of life. Staying healthy is not an added quality but an inherent part of life that is critical and important at the same time. Today, we will look into some of the most important health tests a woman should take.

A combination of a healthy diet with regular exercise and stress management are the primary steps towards a healthy life. In addition to these elements, regular screenings or regular health checkups are also a contributing factor towards one's health. ALSO SEE: MOTHER AND BABY


Importance Of Health Tests For Women

Regular screening can help save your life, health experts point out. Detecting diseases in the early stages, through screening, can change the course of one's life because detecting them when they are still treatable is the best course of action [1].

The health screenings vary according to the age and once you undergo any test, you will be mostly required to follow up with it for the rest of your life [2]. Getting checked regularly can help prevent and stop diseases like cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis in the very beginning - when they are easily treatable.

Undergoing health tests aids in the detection of illnesses even before you have symptoms [3]. The type of screening tests required for you will be dependent on factors such as your age, family history, your health history, and other risk factors.

Here is the list of important health tests every woman should undergo.


1. Cholesterol Check

Cholesterol check is a blood test, where your blood will be drawn, usually from your arm and is collected into a vial or syringe for tests. A cholesterol test assesses your risk of developing heart disease or stroke [4]. It is recommended that women should get checked every four to six years, starting at age 20 [5].

Normal total cholesterol levels should ideally be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) and a borderline high reading is between 200 and 239 mg/dl [6]. If you have a family history or is the risk of heart diseases or stroke, consult your doctor to get the cholesterol check done.


2. Blood Pressure Screening

Carried out to diagnose hypertension or high blood pressure, blood pressure screening is carried out using a device called a sphygmomanometer [7]. This test is done when your blood pressure is higher than 140/90 - which is the normal reading [8].

As high blood pressure can lead to other health complications, it should be checked every two years. Especially if your reading is 120/80 or below and if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should also be screened for diabetes [9].


3. Mammogram

Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancers, one among the most common types of cancers that affect humans [10]. Breast cancer is not exclusive to women, as it can affect men too. More than 9,500 people seek breast cancer care each year and nearly 1,500 people undergo breast cancer surgery each year [11].

Mammography involves the compression of the mammary gland between two plates and an X-ray is transmitted through the breast tissue [12]. Mammography helps to detect the development of breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease, as well as any lump or other signs of breast cancer [13]. All women should have a mammography to screen for breast cancer and women over age 75, there is no recommendation [14].


4. Breast Exam

Breast exams are carried out, usually when a woman reaches the age of 40. These exams are done yearly where the doctor will manually and visually check your breasts for differences in size or shape, rashes and lumps [15]. Breast exam will also include checking the nipples for fluid discharge.


5. Pap Smear/Pap Test

The test checks for signs of cervical cancer [16]. The Pap test is usually done along with a pelvic exam and in women above the age of 30, the Pap test may be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer [17].

A tool called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina to check the cervix and samples of the cervical cells are taken using a brush or spatula for testing [18].


6. Bone Density Screening

A bone density test is carried out to check for osteoporosis [19]. Also, when a woman reaches menopause and has had a history of bone fracture, it is important to get the test done. If you have a risk of osteoporosis, such as fractures or low body weight, carrying out a bone density screening can be beneficial [20].

The test usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes where a small, portable machine will measure bone density in the bones and the frequency of this screening varies depending on bone density and other risk factors [21].


7. Blood Glucose Tests

This test will help detect the presence of diabetes or prediabetes [22]. If you are obese, or have a family history of diabetes, or are of a race or ethnicity that's at particular risk, it is advisable to get blood glucose tests done before the age of 40 [23].


8. Skin Examination

This can be done at home and health experts point out that women should examine their skin every month. You can get this done by carefully examining your body for new moles or changes to existing moles and if you notice anything out of the ordinary, o talk to your doctor or dermatologist [24].


9. Colon Cancer Screening

Colon cancer screening is conducted through a sigmoidoscopy, in which a lighted tube and camera are inserted in the anus to examine the lower colon or colonoscopy, in which a longer tube examines the entire colon [25][26]. Unless there is a risk of colon cancer, sigmoidoscopy is repeated every 5 years, and a colonoscopy every 10 years [27].


10. Dental Checkup

Dental health is an important part of an individual's overall health [28]. Through regular dental checkups, which involve cleaning and examining the teeth, the doctor will be able to spot early signs of decay and any other problems [29].


11. Eye Exam

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it is important to get vision screenings every other year [30]. However, if you don't, it is not compulsory to get the screening done.


12. Physical Exam

Every woman should have physical exams where they should be screened for obesity, which requires calculating the body mass index (BMI) [31]. Although there are no strict guidelines for how often your doctor should take this measurement, it is important to get one done.


Health Tests You Need In The 20s and 30s

Here is the list of health tests every woman should have in their 20s and 30s [32][33]:

  • Pap smear
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Pelvic exam
  • Physical exam
  • Cholesterol test
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Eye exam
  • Dental exam
  • Immunizations and vaccinations

Health Tests You Need In The 40s and 60s

The tests you began in your 20s will still be used in your 40s. However, the exam timings will vary.

  • Physical exams every one to five years
  • Professional breast exam every year
  • Eye exam every two years, even if you don't wear glasses
  • The other tests are as follows:

    • Mammogram
    • Colon cancer screening
    • Breast exam
    • Skin checks

Health Tests You Need In After 65

During this age, your blood pressure should now be checked yearly and cholesterol should be checked every three to five years [34].

  • Bone density test
  • Hearing test

On A Final Note…

In addition to these tests, you should also consider depression screening and diabetes tests to rule out the chances and possibly nip the problem in the bud, when it is possible. Your health is your worth - so make sure you take good care of it.