Female Routine Health Check
Reproductive systems are complex and while most women will have no problems with their health, it is important to undergo routine checks to make sure she is healthy. While some health checks and easy and simple enough to be done at home, others require occasional visits to the doctor. Going through these checks will ensure that a woman is healthy and if something is wrong, it may be detected early. See below for a list of recommended checks/tests.
It is important for adult women to constantly monitor the health of their breasts. Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women and can be easily detected and treated if caught early. Once a month women should preform self check breast exams, which can easily be done before/after a shower or at another routine time. There are 3 steps to this short test:
- While standing, feel with the fingers around the breast for any lumps, hardness or other changes.
- Look at the breasts in a mirror and search for changes such as swelling, blemishes, color, or changes to the nipple.
- Lay down, and raise your shoulders with a pillow, lift each arm above the head and check for lumps, hard areas, or discharge from the nipples.
By preforming this test once a month any changes can easily be spotted and any serious illness can be diagnosed faster. If a woman finds any lumps or other irregularities, she should immediately go to a health care provider to get a mammogram exam.
What is a pap test?
A pap smear (pap test) is a test done by a doctor or nurse to check for signs of abnormal cells in the cervix, infections, or cervical cancer.
Why is it important?
- Can detect abnormal cells and infections.
- Treating these cells early to stop cervical cancer from developing.
- Prevents cervical cancer.
Who should get a pap test?
- Women between age 21 – 69 who is sexually active for the last three years; including oral, vaginal, anal sex, kissing and any other form of sexual activity.
- Women who have had the HPV vaccine still need to take a pap test.
- Women who do not have a cervix because of hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) or an abnormal pap result history do not need to take the test.
How is the test done?
A pap test is simple and quick procedure. During the test, you will be asked to lie on the bed naked from the waist down with your legs. The doctor will insert a metal instrument called a speculum into your vagina and this speculum is used to slightly open your vagina so that your cervix is visible.
A small brush or a stick will then be inserted into your vagina to swab small samples of cells from your cervix wall to be tested.
This will make you feel uncomfortable but it won’t be painful – try to relax!
Then the cells are placed on a glass slide and it will be sent to a laboratory for testing to.
It’s as simple as that!
How often should I take a pap test?
- If you are between ages 21 and 29, you should get a Pap test every 3 years.
- If you are between ages 30 and 64, you should get a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- If you are 65 or older, ask your doctor if you can stop having Pap tests.
How can I prepare for a Pap test?
You have to avoid using vaginal care products, creams or medicines, and having sex two days before the test.
HPV or Human papilloma viruses is a common STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) that can affect the skin of the cervix, anus and the lining of the mouth and throat.
There are more than 100 types of viruses of HPV and more than 40 are spread via sexual contact.
How do you get HPV?
HPV is spread through:
- Skin contact (Kissing, Genital touching, Sharing sex toys)
- Vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
- HPV can be spread even if there are no symptoms.
- This means you can get HPV from someone who has no signs or symptoms.
- Childbirth from a woman to her baby
What are the signs and symptoms of HPV?
Some people suffer from genital warts (flesh-colored bumps around your genital areas) which are not painful but itchy and annoying. These types of HPV which cause genital warts do not cause cancer.
Other types of HPV which can cause cervical cancers do not even show any symptoms and take many years for the cancer to develop. That’s why regular checkups and pap smear test after age 21 is necessary for women to prevent cervical cancers with the right treatment.
When do I get HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine works best when you get it before you have any type of sexual contact with anyone else.
- Girls should get three doses of the HPV vaccine by 11 or 12 years old.
- Girls and women 13 through 26 years old can get vaccinated if they did not get any or all three doses when they were younger.
- The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.
Pros and Cons.
- an important advance in preventing cervical cancer and genital warts
- Protects against HPV viruses which causes 70% of the cervical cancer cases and also 90% of the genital warts.
- At least ten year protection
- Safe and effective
- Has few side effects (Mild pain or swelling at injection site)
- Will not protect patients who are already infected with HPV.
- Three doses are needed over a six month period to be fully protected.
Mammogram is a low-dose X-rays exam to have a closer look for changes in breast tissue while you can’t find any lump or abnormal tissue through a clinical breast exam.
While you’re in your 40s, you should have a mammogram every year. Then between ages 50 and 74, switch to every other year.
It is used for women who have no breast complaints and for women who have breast symptoms, such as a change in the shape or size of a breast, a lump, nipple discharge, or pain.
To prevent breast cancers, women should have a mammogram every 1-3 years. If there is a history of breast cancer is your family, getting a mammogram every year is important.