Women of all ages
sometimes seek medical help only for pregnancy or gynecological issues.
Don't neglect your routine health care during these busy years. According
to the National Women's Health Information Center, these are the routine
checkups that every woman needs. Further, these exams can be beneficial
in identifying problems and should be performed if you experience any
abnormal symptoms such as pain, lump or discharge from your breast; irregular
bleeding or foul smelling vaginal discharge; vaginal, uterine or ovarian
pain; blood in your stool; skin growths; or dental carries.
of Routine Health Care
Most experts recommend an annual physical by a health care practitioner.
In addition to the tests listed below this should include pelvic,
rectal, skin, and blood pressure evaluations. Pelvic exams, along
with routine pap tests, evaluate the health of the female reproductive
tract and help identify sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, or
other abnormalities. Rectal exams are recommended annually for women
over age 50, earlier if you have inflammatory bowel disease or a first-degree
relative with colon cancer. Skin examinations should also be performed
annually to check moles or suspicious growths.
doctor should perform a professional exam of your breasts annually
and you should perform a breast
self-exam every month. It is recommended that women perform
breast self-exams, as women are often the first to notice subtle
changes in their breasts.
Because breast tissue changes slightly with cyclic hormone fluctuations,
the best time to do the exam is 7 to 10 days after the beginning
of your last menstrual period. For women who experience breast changes
during ovulation, it may be better to perform breast self exam on
the last day of the menstrual cycle. For those past menopause, try
to perform the exam at the same time each month.
mammogram (breast x-ray) can often detect a lump well before you
or your doctor can feel it.
An initial or baseline mammogram is recommended for most women before
their 40th birthday, and follow up exams are scheduled according
to age and risk profile.
women find this procedure uncomfortable, but it is currently the
best screening tool for breast cancer. In
fact, many studies have shown that screening mammograms taken on
a regular basis have the potential for reducing deaths from breast
cancer in women between the ages of 50 to 69 by up to 40 per cent.
your doctor about getting regular screening mammograms.
The Pap test
is a screening tool used to monitor for precancerous or cancerous
cells in the cervix or neck of the uterus. This test is usually
part of a routine examination for women, starting from onset of
sexual activity or age 18. Frequency of the test may be performed
yearly or up to every 3 years depending on your age, risk and history
of normal tests. This is best discussed with your physician to decide
what is best for you.
procedure is uncomfortable, it remains the number one screening
tool we have for cervical cancer. Worldwide, cervical cancer is
the second most common cancer among women. One-half of the women
with newly diagnosed invasive cervical cancer have never had a Pap
test, and another 10 percent have not had a Pap test in the past
tests may be done to screen for a variety of diseases. A blood glucose
test may be performed to detect elevated blood sugar and diabetes.
Total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol should be checked annually to
watch for elevated cholesterol and an increased risk of cardiovascular
disease. Your doctor may also want to check for thyroid disease using
the Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test.
Hemoglobin and ferritin levels may be done to check for anemia. Anemia
can be a risk in women for two reasons, menstrual bleeding and dietary
deficiency. If during menopause you experienced prolonged or heavy
bleeding, your doctor may monitor these levels for development of
anemia. To avoid nutritional deficiencies, be aware of the food sources
of iron, vitamin B12, and folate and include them in your diet daily.
to routine blood tests, other blood tests should be considered.
If you had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985, have injected
illegal drugs, have had multiple sexual partners or have had sex
with a man who had sex with another man an HIV test is indicated.
A physical exam
and/or blood tests for sexually transmitted diseases should be discussed
with your physician if you have had multiple sexual partners.
you have injected illegal drugs, have been an alcoholic or a health
care worker, have been exposed to someone with tuberculosis (TB),
have recently moved from Asia, Africa, Central or South America
or the Pacific Islands or if you have kidney failure or HIV disease,
you should be tested for TB.
this screening procedure, a hollow, lighted tube is used to visually
inspect the wall of the rectum and the left side of the colon. Flexible
sigmoidoscopy can detect about 65 to 75 percent of polyps and 40 to
65 percent of colorectal cancers. Colorectal cancer is the second
highest cause of death from cancer in the United States. Studies indicate
that deaths from colorectal cancer could be reduced by as much as
55 to 70 percent with the use of screening flexible sigmoidoscopy.
occult blood test
fecal occult blood test is a chemical test for blood in a stool sample.
A study conducted in the United States showed a 33 percent reduction
in colorectal cancer deaths among the participants who were annually
yearly for cleaning and checkups.