Kick Off 2020 By Getting The Right Medical Check-Ups For Your Age
Many women may not be aware of what medical tests and check-ups they need to have done. In fact, these tests are absolute musts, and they are nice to have. Also, as we age how should these medical tests and check-ups change – what should we be asking for? Dr. Katrien Dehaeck, a leading gynecologist at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town who specializes in vulvovaginal health, shares her advice.
According to Dr. Katrien Dehaeck, prior to 40 years of age, women don’t need to undergo any medical blood tests. They should only do so if they have a family history of cholesterol, diabetes or any other hereditary problems. It’s also important to note that if there is a family history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism, a woman should undergo a clotting profile before starting on oral contraception.
Medical Check-Ups By The Ages
PAP smears, preferably HPV testing, need to be undertaken two years after becoming sexually active, and regular breast examinations are always important.
PAP smears are used to examine the health of your cervix by checking for abnormal cell changes. Any abnormalities noted could mean that you have cervical cancer. However, your doctor will have to do further tests to better confirm this.
Additionally, since many of you are sexually active, it’s important to go for regular STI tests. This is especially important if you’ve had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
In addition, all women should undergo yearly Gynae check-ups. These tests generally include a breast examination, palpation of the abdomen and a vaginal examination of the vulva, cervix, and pelvis.
Similar to your 20s, it’s important to have regular PAP smears in your 30s. Also, a lot of women look forward to starting a family in their 30s. Thus, it would be advisable to consult your doctor about reproductive tests such as ultrasounds and urine samples.
Lastly, while you can do it yourself, ask your doctor to perform a clinical breast exam just to ensure that everything is fine. After all, early detection can save lives.
“Once women hit 40, they need to start having mammograms every two years. They should also have a cholesterol test, have their blood pressure checked and have a urine analysis dipstick test done to determine glucose and protein levels, white blood cell count and acidity within the body that can all point to health issues that can be treated pro actively,” says Dehaeck.
From 50 onwards, Dehaeck suggests that the above-mentioned tests be done again and that a bone density test and colonoscopy be added even if there is no prior family history of brittle bone or colon cancer. “If there are signs of Osteopenia (thinning of the bones) then a Vitamin D check and if necessary, liver and kidney function tests should be carried out.
If the woman has risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, stress and a family history of cardiac problems, then a visit to a physician or cardiologist may be necessary,” explains Dehaeck. In addition, as part of a routine gynecologist check-up, an ultrasound of the pelvis may be undertaken.
Dehaeck says women over 60 should continue with the above tests. However, if no previous problems were picked up, PAP smears can be discontinued. “Random hit and miss blood testing are not necessary unless specific symptoms are determined. Also, random CA125 and CEA testing for cancer screenings should NOT be done, unless it is specifically for disease monitoring.
“I would stress that it is important to see a doctor early if any symptoms arise throughout your life. There is only so much testing that can be done to prevent disease but an early diagnosis can be a lifesaver,” concludes Dehaeck.
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