Although a woman may feel well, it is still important for her to see a doctor regularly and have a series of tests, an x-ray of the breast (mammogram), and some other tests. This is due to the fact that a woman can suffer from various latent infections that negatively affect the reproductive sphere and the body as a whole. Health assessment — regular check-ups by a gynecologist and a therapist, laboratory tests and procedures used to detect diseases at an early stage — is extremely important. We have identified 13 studies and procedures that are important for every woman.
Regular examination by a gynecologist
All women need regular check-ups by a gynecologist, starting from puberty and the beginning of an intimate life. A gynecologist is a specialist who monitors the state of reproductive health. In the absence of complaints, it is necessary to visit him every six months, as well as during the planning of the baby and throughout pregnancy, to monitor the development of the fetus and health. If there are problems with the menstrual cycle, abnormal discharge, pain in the lower abdomen or other complaints, the gynecologist should examine the woman as soon as possible, identify the causes of the pathology and prescribe treatment.
During the examination, the gynecologist can also conduct a PAP test. Cells are taken from the cervical canal to detect neoplasia. Today, doctors recommend screening every three years, starting at age 21 and ending at age 65. Any, even minor violations, require an HPV test to identify high-risk strains of the virus.
Detection of HPV infection
Human papillomavirus is the most common intimate infection that can cause cancer of the cervix and other localizations. An HPV test, often done at the same time as a PAP test, is recommended every five years for women aged 30 to 65. Because HPV is common among women under the age of 30, experts say it often clears up on its own. Therefore, the test is usually not done for this age group unless there is an abnormal PAP test result.
In addition to reproductive health, the general condition of the body, which is controlled by the therapist, is also important. It is also worth visiting him once every six months. Health conditions change over time, and annual monitoring can identify risk factors early, before they cause harm or lead to serious or chronic illness. In addition to assessing the family history, which may reveal a predisposition to certain pathologies, the therapist must know the characteristics of nutrition, work and life in general in order to point out possible risk factors. Examination is no less important — it is an opportunity for the therapist to assess blood pressure, body weight and its relationship to height. Based on these data, the therapist gives recommendations on a healthy lifestyle.
Breast examination: at home and at the doctor
It is equally important that a woman is regularly examined by a mammologist. During an external examination, the doctor will evaluate the symmetry of the breast, the location of the nipples, the condition of the skin, probe the tissues of the gland, the armpit area for the presence of seals, discharge from the nipple, pain. Doctor visits should begin at age 20, be repeated every one to three years for women up to age 39, and become annual starting at age 40. In the meantime, breast self-exams should be done at home every month, on the same day of the cycle.
Mammography: X-ray of the breast
Experts say that chest x-rays (mammograms) are the key to preventing and detecting breast cancer early. This is a low-dose tissue radiography, and starting at age 40, women should have an annual mammogram. If a woman is at high risk for neoplasia—for example, if she has a family history of breast cancer—the doctor may recommend early x-rays or breast ultrasound as a safer option.
Screening for sexually transmitted infections
All women should be regularly screened for sexually transmitted infections after starting sex. Not all infections during infection give a vivid clinical picture. If an infection such as gonorrhea or chlamydia manifests itself quickly enough, then genital herpes, HIV or others can be hidden. Usually they do a smear, a blood or urine test, PCR diagnostics.
Colonoscopy may contribute to the early detection and treatment of colon cancer, which is the third most common cancer diagnosed in women. Screening should be done at an early age for patients with colon pathologies or those with a history of familial adenomatous polyposis. They are prescribed a doctor’s examination and a fecal occult blood test. Women aged 19 to 49 should be screened regularly, including through endoscopy, if they have inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease. In general, women should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, starting at age 50.
Starting at age 45, women should be screened for diabetes every three years, and earlier if they are obese or have an unfavorable family history. Diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease and disability and is on the rise due to the obesity epidemic. Early detection of diabetes is critical. Testing is usually done with a fasting plasma glucose test or a glycosylated (A1c) hemoglobin test.
Lipid profile assessment
A series of blood tests help your doctor assess your risk of developing heart disease by looking at your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In the presence of obesity or dysfunctional heredity, these indicators should be checked starting from the age of 20-30, at least once every 3-5 years. With overestimated rates, dietary changes are needed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Drugs are also available to lower bad cholesterol levels if dietary adjustments don’t help.
Tests for hepatitis B and C
With the beginning of an active intimate life, as well as in the presence of additional risk factors, a woman should be checked not only for sexual infections, but also to exclude the presence of hepatitis B and C. The frequency of screening depends on the doctor’s recommendations.
Women aged 65 and older should have a bone density test every two years. And if there are risk factors for osteoporosis, such as eating disorders or a sedentary lifestyle, a doctor may recommend getting tested at a younger age.
Determination of thyroid hormones
A blood test for thyroid hormone levels reveals thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. It should be given as recommended between the ages of 19 and 49 in women at high risk, such as those with autoimmune disease or an unfavorable family history. And then you should repeat it every five years, starting at age 50.
Propaedeutics of internal diseases / Mukhin N.A., Moiseev V.S. — 2008
Guide to Laboratory Diagnostic Methods / Kishkun A.A. — 2013