Medical screening tests assess your current health status and provide the opportunity to identify any potential health risks before they become problematic. As we age, the odds of developing certain diseases/conditions increase irrespective of lifestyle choices. The recommendations below are provided for women who do not currently have any health conditions and are otherwise healthy. If you already have a health condition, testing may need to be done more regularly in line with your doctor’s recommendations.
- Pap (smear) test: This is done to check for abnormal cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer. Women aged ≥21 years should endeavour to have a pap test done every 3 years. Cervical cancer can be cured if it is caught early.
- Mammographs: Before the age of 45, women should inspect and fell their breasts monthly to check for changes in the look and feel of their breast, especially if for genetic reasons, there is a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer. Women aged ≥45 years should aim to have an annual mammograph.
- Colonoscopy: This is done to check for abnormal cells or growths in the colon and rectum that may lead to colon cancer. However, it is not necessary for women with an average risk of developing colon cancer before the age of 50. Women aged ≥50 years should talk to their physicians about which tests to do and how often.
- Chlamydia test: Sexually active women aged ≤25 years should have this test done annually. If left unchecked, chlamydia infections can lead to infertility and serious pelvic complications.
- Blood pressure: Blood pressure should be checked every one to two years even if you have live a healthy lifestyle. If you live an unhealthy lifestyle and are at risk of developing high blood pressure, have it checked every six months.
- Cholesterol tests: These are done to determine the levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and thus assess the risk of developing heart disease. Women aged ≥40 years should have this done every five years.
- Blood sugar test: This is done to determine your risk of developing diabetes. Women aged ≥45 years should have this done every three years.
The more regularly medical screening tests are done, the better the prognosis will be especially if any irregularities are found.