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June 2, 2024

The Power of Prevention: Key Women’s Health Screenings You Should Know About

There has been a sea change in women’s health over the last few decades making it more and more complex in recent times. The modern lifestyle, diet, rising pollution levels, and exposure to radiation such as that from the microwave, have all contributed to the rise of various health issues that were not experienced by women earlier. Girls are attaining puberty earlier as well.

The number of women suffering from cervical, uterine, and breast cancers has also increased over the years. It is not uncommon for us to hear about such cases from our friends and family circles. Changing lifestyles have also eased society’s acceptance towards multiple partners and casual sex. This exposes women to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

In such a scenario gynaecological screening takes centre stage. They are essential in the early diagnosis of diseases, which can help women seek treatment at the right time, and in many cases, nip the diseases in the bud.

This article aims to provide a deeper understanding of women’s health screenings, and their importance and highlights a few screenings that every woman should opt for.

Why are Annual Gynaecological Screenings Important?

Earlier, gynaecological screenings were based on conditions or symptoms. Slowly, with the rise of cervical cancer and breast cancer, Pap Smear Tests and mammograms were introduced. Many women, even today feel that having these two tests is more than enough. However, the reality speaks differently. Pap smear tests and mammograms are specific to only these two cancers and do not provide a holistic view of a woman’s health.

This is why, most women’s hospitals nowadays offer comprehensive health checkup packages that cover various aspects of women’s health. If you’ve been wondering whether you should go for such yearly health checkups, let us help you with the decision. Below, we discuss a few reasons why women’s health screenings take the central stage in women’s health.

Prevention is better than cure

Preventive checkups have proven their merit in saving countless lives across the world. And yearly examination with your doctor allows them to properly examine various symptoms experienced by you, such as odd discharge, bleeding or any specific issue that you might be facing. This yearly examination can provide you with much-needed peace of mind and help you to remain in control of your health.

Keeping in touch with your gynaecologist

An annual health checkup helps you to remain in touch with your gynaecologist. This builds a relationship between you and your doctor, thus helping later if a more serious issue arises. Having your medical history such as pregnancy, menstrual difficulty and others also helps your gynaecologist to have a clear idea about your health condition, which in turn, can help them treat you in a better way.

Makes it easy to modify your health routine

A yearly visit to your gynaecologist and one-on-one with them will help you understand if you need to bring any change in your health regime. This also helps your doctor to know if you have made any changes to your lifestyle or health regime over the last year.

Simplifies transitions

We all transition in life, women more so. Having an annual checkup helps your gynaecologist to be aware of these phases that you are going through – puberty, early adulthood, marriage, pregnancy, motherhood, menopause and so on.

Provides peace of mind

Last but not least, yearly health checkups can bring you much-needed peace of mind and help you remain on top of your health all the time. With issues being taken care of on time, you will know that you are in good hands and nothing is brewing in the background.

Key Women’s Health Screenings to Know About

Now let us look at a few key women’s health screenings that every woman should know about.

1. Breast cancer screening

Out of all the types of cancer that affect women, people are most aware of breast cancer. While all women should go for breast cancer screening, it is most important for women who are at risk such as those with a family history of breast cancer or those who are identified with a genetic mutation (such as a BRCA gene) which can increase the risk of breast cancer.

In general, breast cancer screenings are done in two ways:


These are low-dose X-rays of the breast. Going for mammograms regularly has proven to be extremely useful in detecting breast cancer at an early stage. Treating breast cancer at an early stage increases its chances of success to a great extent. Early detection also reduces the requirement for aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery to remove the entire breast. They are more likely to be cured as well.

Breast self-exam and clinical breast exam

Women can examine their breasts themselves (breast self-exam) or get it done by a health professional (clinical breast exam). Although not as efficient as mammograms, breast exams can help identify lumps or abnormalities in the breast and seek further assistance. Women should also be aware of how their breasts normally look so that they can seek assistance if something doesn’t feel right.

When and how often should you go for Mammograms?

The answer to this question lies in your risk level of the disease. A woman is considered to be at average risk if there’s no personal history or no strong family history of breast cancer or the presence of a genetic mutation has not been identified or has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30.

For an average-risk woman, the recommended age and frequency of mammograms are:

  • Between age 40 and 54: Screening once a year
  • 55 years and older: Screening every other year, till the woman is in good health.

All women need to understand what to expect from a mammogram, what the test is all about and what can it diagnose.

2. Other Cancer Screenings

Women are susceptible to specific types of cancer. Hence one of the most important components of a yearly screening should be screenings for the various types of cancer. The most important cancer screenings applicable to women are:

  • Cervical cancer: Women should go for regular Pap Smear tests for cervical cancer screening after they turn 21. Between the age of 21 to 29, this screening should be conducted every three years. Between the ages of 30 to 65, this screening should be conducted every five years. Women over the age of 65 do not need to go for it unless they have a history of pre-cancer diagnosis. In such a case, they should continue the scan for at least another 20 years.
  • Ovarian cancer: At present, no screening tests are available for ovarian cancer. During your normal health screening, your doctor may conduct a pelvic exam to check the ovaries. However, this examination may not reveal ovarian cysts unless they are very large. Some hospitals offer risk assessment programs to identify ovarian cancer. If you think you are at risk, contact your gynaecologist for conducting tests. You can find more information about the risk factors and early detection for ovarian cancer in our Health Articles section.
  • Uterine cancer: All women, till the time of menopause, are at risk of endometrial cancer. Symptoms of uterine cancer include vaginal discharge or bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure. If there is a medical history, women should consider going for endometrial biopsy at least once a year.
  • Vaginal cancer: No screening tests are available currently for vaginal cancer. However, regular checkups can help your doctor to look for signs and symptoms of this cancer. Your doctor may conduct a pelvic exam to look for lumps or changes in your vagina or the skin of your vulva as a part of identifying symptoms of vaginal cancer.

3. Blood Tests

Apart from the tests discussed above, a general blood test can indicate further abnormalities. The most commonly performed blood tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): A CBC provides a complete understanding of your blood count. It shows haemoglobin levels, red and white blood cell count and platelet count. CBC is especially useful in detecting anaemia, infections and other conditions.
  • Blood glucose tests: These are used to measure the level of glucose or sugar in your blood. Blood glucose tests will include a fasting blood sugar test (measures the level of glucose after 8-12 hours of fasting), a postprandial blood sugar test (measures the level of glucose after 2 hours of eating) and an HbA1C test (measures the average glucose levels over three months). Your doctor may also conduct a random blood glucose test to measure your blood sugar randomly at any time of any day.
  • Lipid profile: Lipid profile measures the level of cholesterol in your body such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides, total cholesterol and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). These are important indicators of cardiovascular health.
  • Liver function test: Commonly known as LFT, this test is used to measure the levels of proteins and liver enzymes in the blood. It is used to diagnose diseases related to the liver such as hepatitis and cirrhosis and monitors the overall health of the liver.
  • Renal function test: This test is used to monitor kidney function and diagnose kidney-related conditions. Creatinine, sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) are integral parts of this test.

4. Urine Analysis

Another group of tests commonly used along with blood tests is urine tests. They are used to screen for urinary tract infections, diabetes, and liver and kidney issues. The general parameters measured in kidney tests are:

  • Colour and clarity
  • pH level
  • Glucose levels
  • Protein levels
  • Specific gravity
  • Ketone levels
  • Leukocyte levels
  • Bilirubin levels
  • Nitrite levels
  • Urobilinogen levels
  • The presence of blood in the urine
  • Bacterial or other microorganisms

5. Bone Density Test

Bone density scan or dual-energy-X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is another essential test that determines the calcium and other minerals in one’s bones. Women below 65 with no risk of accelerated bone loss should go for this every 3 to 5 years, while those above 65 should go for it every two years.

6. HIV Testing

Each woman should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. However, if your gynaecologist identifies risk factors, they may repeat the test every year.

7. Hepatitis C Testing

Women born between 1945 to 1965, who are unaware of the infection status should go for this test once in their lifetime.

8. Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea Testing

These are sexually transmitted diseases which if left untreated can lead to bigger issues such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Sexually active women under the age of 25 should go for this test every year. Women above 25 should go for it if they have recently been diagnosed with other sexually transmitted diseases, have a new partner, have several partners at the same time or have been exposed to these diseases.

Summing it up

Women face different kinds of health risks at different phases of life. From the commencement of periods to menopause and more, a woman’s body goes through a variety of changes.

An annual gynaecological screening is the best tool to mitigate risks associated with their health. They should be given utmost importance and should not be missed at any cost.

To arrange for a health screening at your convenience, please get in touch with our Avisena Wellness Centre at 03 5515 1888 or visit our Women’s Health Department page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a women’s health test?

A women’s health test is an annual screening to assess the general health condition of a woman. It plays a crucial role in the early diagnosis of diseases in women. Every woman should opt for it once a year, after attaining the age of 21.

Why is screening important for women’s health?

Women’s bodies go through different kinds of changes at different phases of their life. Health screenings allow them to take more control of their health by detecting diseases early and seeking intervention when needed.

What is a Pap smear for women’s health screening?

A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer in women. It detects abnormal cell changes in the cervix (the opening between the vagina and the uterus).

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