Essential health checks every woman should know | Health - Hindustan Times

Essential health checks every woman should know

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Apr 23, 2024 11:04 AM IST

Guiding women through essential health checks is crucial for their well-being. Here are some critical health checks every woman should be aware of

Regular health check keeps a person not only well but also helps in management of certain health conditions however, unfortunately, health check-up is not something that is included in one's self-health care in India yet. Guiding every woman through the essential health checks is crucial for their well-being hence, we got you sorted with a list of some critical health checks that every woman should be aware of, tailored to address common health issues and preventive measures.

Essential health checks every woman should know (Image by Wiroj Sidhisoradej on Freepik)
Essential health checks every woman should know (Image by Wiroj Sidhisoradej on Freepik)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sujit Ash, Consultant, Gynaecology and Obstetrics at PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC in Khar, shared, “Other than blood pressure and BMI evaluation, health check-ups should include investigations such as blood and imaging studies, both having many findings with significance in relation to age and present/past/family history. To name a few, the list of blood tests should include complete blood count with emphasis on the haemoglobin, blood sugar for diabetes, and lipid levels for deranged cholesterol, along with thyroid evaluation; vitamins D3, B12, along with calcium; basic liver and kidney evaluation; urine study; and blood marker for ovarian cancer, i.e., CA-125 (based on age, imaging, and family history).”

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So far as the imaging studies are concerned, Dr Sujit Ash advised to take a mammogram from the age of 40 years in order to rule out the possibilities of breast cancers. He said, “Needless to say, it is expected of one to do a regular self-breast-examination once a month, and to do an annual breast check by a doctor. Ultrasound is advised to look for any pathology of the uterus, like fibroids, polyps, adenomyosis, or any ovarian pathologies, like cysts, endometriosis. A DEXA scan or a bone mineral density scan is one that I would recommend in the process of early detection of osteopenia if a woman is going through menopause and thus to its advancement to osteoporosis.”

The most significant screening test in Indian women is the Pap smear test for cervical cancer screening. Dr Sujit Ash revealed, “It is recommended from the age group of 21 to 65 years, depending on the sexual history, operative history, and previous Pap smear report, after every 3-5 years. This is the single most valuable test that has helped save the life of countless women. To this, a cardiac evaluation (with ECG and a 2D Echo), dental, eye, and ENT checkups may be added so that it becomes more elaborate. The fact is that these check-ups are not only handy for doctors in ruling out any potential health problems but at times may also be useful to diagnose or predict diseases.”

Adding to the list of essential health checks that every woman should know, Dr Mini Salunkhe, Director and Head of Department – Obstetrics at Sahyadri Hospitals in Pune, highlighted -

  1. Breast Examinations: Breast cancer is a significant concern worldwide, including in India. Perform a self-breast examination every month to check for any unusual changes or lumps in the breast tissue. Along with regular breast self-exams, scheduling the clinical breast exams annually is very important. Mammograms are recommended every one to two years for women over the age of 40, or earlier if there's a family history of breast cancer.
  2. Cervical Cancer Awareness: Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death among Indian women. Awareness and preventive measures, such as vaccination, are vital. There is a vaccine available that can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Early vaccination, especially before exposure to HPV (human papillomavirus), can offer protection against the strains of HPV most likely to cause cervical cancer. Starting from age 21, or within three years of becoming sexually active, women should have regular pelvic exams and Pap smears to check for signs of cervical cancer and other reproductive health issues. Incorporating a Pap smear into your annual health check-up routine is crucial. A Pap smear is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It helps in detecting precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. Early detection through routine Pap smears can lead to successful treatment and can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
  3. Proactive Vaccination: It is recommended to protect both adolescent girls and boys with two doses of the cervical cancer vaccine. This not only prevents cervical cancer but also protects against other types of cancers such as rectal cancers. The vaccination is most effective when administered before individuals become sexually active, as it prevents the initial HPV infection.
  4. Abdomen and Pelvis Sonography: An annual abdomen and pelvis sonography is recommended to diagnose ovarian cancers early. Early intervention can be lifesaving. Be particularly vigilant if you have a family history of ovarian cancer and consult with a Gynaecologist for personalized advice and screening recommendations.
  5. Uterine Health: Haphazard or abnormal bleeding can be a warning sign of several uterine pathologies, including fibroids, polyps, or even uterine cancer. Consult with a doctor if you experience any abnormal bleeding patterns.
  6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a common lifestyle disorder affecting a significant number of women. It's essential to focus on a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, to manage and mitigate the symptoms of PCOS.
  7. Postmenopausal Bleeding: Any bleeding after menopause is not normal and warrants immediate medical consultation. Postmenopausal bleeding can be a sign of endometrial cancer or other serious health issues.
  8. Fertility Concerns: The stress of modern lifestyles can impact both male and female fertility. If you are experiencing difficulties conceiving, it's important to seek guidance and support from a Gynaecologist early in the process for appropriate investigations and treatments.
  9. Bone Density Screening: Women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, especially post-menopause. Bone density tests are recommended for women over the age of 65 or younger women at risk.
  10. Thyroid Function Tests: Women are more prone to thyroid disorders. Regular TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) tests can help detect abnormalities early.

Regular health check-ups and being proactive about your reproductive health can make a significant difference in early detection and treatment of many conditions. Always consult with a female health expert and doctors for personalised advice and follow-up on any concerns you may have regarding your health.

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