Do you exercise an hour daily, eat healthy, and even for a minute don’t think that you would have any underlying health condition? Well ladies, though we all pray you remain hale and hearty always, we want you to rethink this assumption. Certain health check ups are as important as your healthy diet and fitness regime. They help in early detection of diseases, and in getting you their timely cures.
Even though you might not see any symptoms on the surface, it is said that prevention is always better than cure! To help you out, we bring you here a list of few medical tests that every woman must undergo from time to time.
Ideally you should undergo a ‘Pap smear’ test first when you turn 21 or within three years of becoming sexually active. Yes, you can get this test done even if you are a virgin, there are no possible side effects. This test should be repeated after every three years. It is usually done to detect cervical cancer, which if detected early, can help in removing abnormal cells from the cervix before they become cancerous. Once you hit 30 you can wait for about five years (if you test negative thrice in a row) before going for another one unless you see any changes in your body.
Usually doctors recommend mammograms, a low dose x-ray to screen the breasts and other tissue around it for cancerous lumps, after the age of 40. But you can start performing a self-exam even in your early 20s and 30s. Although some lumps in your breast can be nonthreatening, this test can help you trace malignant lumps too. But, it all depends on detection, so whether you do a self-test or a medical one, keep a close watch on various symptoms and changes. This way, if the lumps are cancerous they can be prevented from spreading to lymph nodes and brain or lungs.
Melanoma (skin cancer) is the second most life-threatening form of cancer among women, after breast cancer. This is the most common health problem for women in their late 20s or early 30s. If you have a family history of skin cancer, then do visit a dermatologist annually. But, if there has been no prior history, then you can do so semi-annually. This is also known as mole screening. A dermatologist will give a fully body examination, including the skin between your toes, behind your ears and your scalp too. They would check for any forms of suspicious looking moles, freckles and skin growths that might be cancerous in nature.
Did you know that two-thirds of women who have no prior history of heart problems die of heart diseases? This is to say that even though you don’t have a family history of heart diseases, you still could be at a risk. The secret to keep a check on it is recognising early symptoms, adopting a healthy lifestyle (exercise, quit smoking and sleep well) and undergoing relevant medical tests listed below:
- Blood pressure
- Waist circumference
- Blood glucose levels checked
ECG is recommended if you are on the other side of 50, even if you have no previous history of heart problems in your family. This test helps to monitor heart abnormalities, if any.
Bone Mineral Density Test
It is important for you to keep a check on the bone mineral density in your body. Especially, women who reach menopause are at a greater risk of having weak bones; and this would increase their risk of getting osteoporosis. You must visit your doctor and discuss if you are at an increased risk of bone deterioration, which comes with age. The most commonly recommended test is DXA or dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. It becomes a must for women above 65 years of age, as with age, bone mineral density reduces and chances of fractures increase. The DXA test will help to measure your bone marrow density and determine risk of osteoporosis.
Most of you would not know, but ovarian cancer is the most common cause of gynaecological cancer deaths. Other than age, family history of ovarian cancer and personal history of breast cancer, endometriosis, post-menopausal hormonal therapy and infertility too are considered contributory factors that increase the risk of ovarian cancer. This risk particularly increases for women between 50 to 75 years of age. Usually during screening, doctors perform a pelvic exam to confirm if the uterus and ovaries show symptoms of cancer or not.
So, take an appointment with your doctor who will be in a better position to recommend– depending on your age, family history and other risk factors– the tests you must undergo. And, ladies, do not ignore your health problems or overlook them. Keep a close watch on any slight symptom and change that you see in your body.