8 tests every woman should get in her lifetime

Since March is Woman’s Month, and this, as a matter of fact, is the Health & Wellness section, I have compiled a list of 8 tests a woman should do in her lifetime.
1.   Mammogram
Breast cancer remains the number 1 killer of women all over the world. A mammogram can detect breast cancer at its earliest stage. Ask your doctor for a request every year starting age 40.
2.   Pap smear
Cervical cancer is number 2 after breast cancer in affecting women in our country.
A pap smear cannot prevent the cancer from occurring but it can catch the cancer cells even before they start presenting with symptoms.
Once a woman has even just one sexual encounter, she may already be exposed to the cancer-causing virus. She needs a pap smear ever year.

Related: Yes, it's true: Not all women need a Pap smear

3.   Vaginal or rectal ultrasound
Whether you are single or married, a virgin or not, with children or without children, all women should have at least one ultrasound in their lifetime.
Many diseases do not present with symptoms until it is too late.
Ovarian cancer, myomas, endometrial cancer… all these remain unnoticed because these diseases lie silent and deep in the pelvic organs. They start to manifest with bleeding or pain when they are in their advanced stages.
Not even a yearly pap smear can detect these tumors, but an ultrasound can. Do it today!
4.   Bone mineral density
Another silent disease is osteoporosis. You will never know you have it until you break a bone.
All women start to lose bone mass at the age of 35. This loss is most rapid at the age of menopause.
The incidence of osteoporosis is double the incidence of heart disease, breast cancer and stroke combined. That’s a lot of women who will, out of nowhere, without warning, just cough really hard and they’ll break their back. That’s how fragile and brittle an osteoporotic bone can be.
As soon as you have stopped menstruating and you’ve entered the menopausal stage, have a central bone mineral density screening done every 3 years.
The keyword is “central”. It is more accurate than the “peripheral” bone screening often conducted in malls and product blitzes. (These peripheral screenings are so inaccurate, if you go for the test 3 successive times and you’ll get 3 different results!)
So, insist on a CENTRAL bone mineral density scan.

Related: Women have better sex with an uncircumcised partner

5.   Eye exam
Blurring of vision is gradual, subtle and progressive. Very often you will not know that you have diminishing visual acuity because the eyes adjust to the loss of vision by squinting. Or, you may move your cellphone just a little bit further or just complete ignore a word or paragraph thinking that it was printed using a 6-point font size.
Accept it. Your aging lenses begin to lose their elasticity by age 40. One day you wake up and you can’t read your text message.
Have an eye exam every year beginning age 40.
6.   Hearing test
Just like your vision, your hearing will give way to the aging process too. Exposure to loud music and loud sounds can cause hearing loss to come at an earlier age. Genetics also plays a major role.
Schedule a hearing test every 5 years as soon as you hit 40.

Related: How one tablet can save your life

7.   Colonoscopy
Colon cancer is one of the most curable cancers. It would be a terrible shame if the tumor would be detected at a late stage.
The easiest way to spot a problem in the colon is a yearly stool exam.
But a colonoscopy is more accurate. It is recommended every 3 years beginning at age 45 and earlier and more frequently for women with a relative who has had colon cancer.
8.   Thyroid function test
Symptoms of thyroid disease are very non-specific that they are often ignored.
If you have too much thyroid hormones as in the case of hyperthyroidism, you may experience weight loss, palpitations, rapid heart rate and insomnia.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, those with hypothyroidism or lacking in the hormone complain of weight gain, fatigue, dry skin and brittle nails.
Do a blood test for thyroid function every 5 years.
When it comes to your health, do not wait for symptoms to occur. It’s always best to be ahead of the game. If you belong to the age groups mentioned above, see your doctor for these tests.

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More about the author:
Dr. Diana Sarmiento is a mother of three, part-time doctor, and a full-time wife and mother. The topics closest to her heart are women’s health, parenting, and any new information that she can get her hands on. Read more on her personal blog, Filipina M.D.

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