4 Routine Women’s Health Screenings You Might Be Due to Schedule

November 2018

Get to know more about mammograms, pap smears, cholesterol tests, and colorectal screenings.

One of the routine women’s health screenings you might be due to schedule is a mammogram.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “early detection saves lives,” and it holds true when it comes to some of the most common women’s health conditions, including breast cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease, and colon cancer. With the benefit of today’s advances in women’s health, screenings make it easier than ever to detect warning signs in their earliest stages when outcomes are more likely to be positive. While there are many tests your doctor may recommend that you have regularly, let’s look at four of the most common routine women’s health screenings that you may be due to schedule:

  1. Mammogram
  2. Pap smear
  3. Cholesterol test
  4. Colorectal screening

Keep reading to learn more about these tests and how to know when you’re due to have them.

  1. Mammogram

​​Helps detect: Breast cancer
You’re due if: You are over age 40, it’s been longer than a year since your last exam, or your doctor recommends it

This women’s health screening is one that most women have heard of before. A mammogram is when doctors take an X-ray of your breast to check for irregularities typically associated with breast cancer.

During your appointment, a series of plates are used to press each of your breasts down and hold them in place while the X-ray takes images. The process causes some pressure on your breasts, and some women may find it uncomfortable – especially around their period. However, the discomfort only lasts for a matter of seconds, and then you’re done.

The images of your breasts are sent to a radiologist, who will examine the X-rays and tell you and your doctor the results within a few weeks. If the radiologist finds an irregularity, try and stay calm. It is common and doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer or that you’ll need treatment. Your doctor may recommend additional tests to further identify or diagnose any abnormalities before making a diagnosis.

Some special tips to prepare for your mammogram include:

  • Don’t wear perfume, deodorant, or powder, as these can interfere with the X-ray imaging
  • Avoid scheduling your mammogram around your period
  • Wear a shirt and pants or skirt instead of a one-piece dress or jumpsuit, as you’ll need to be topless for the mammogram

Learn more about what to expect from your first mammogram here.

  1. Pap Smear

Helps detect: Cervical cancer
You’re due if: You are over age 21, it’s been longer than 2 years for women under 30 or 3 years for women over 30, or your doctor recommends it

This routine women’s health screening is used to test for cervical cancer or signs that cancer may develop. The doctor inserts a soft brush and flat scraping “spatula” into your cervix, which is located on the lower end of your uterus at the top of the vagina.

Your gynecologist extracts samples of your cervical cells, which are then sent to a lab and observed under a microscope. If any abnormal cells are detected, your doctor will take additional samples, which will be sent to the lab for further examination.To prepare for your Pap smear, avoid vaginal medicines, gels, creams, or jellies for two days to prevent disrupting cells. Also, avoid intercourse or douching and try not to schedule your pap smear during your period.

Learn more about cervical cancer screening guidelines here and be sure to check with your women’s health team about a recommended routine screening schedule for you.

  1. Cholesterol Test

Helps detect: Heart disease
You’re due if: You are over age 45, it’s been over 5 years since your last test, or your doctor recommends it

Another women’s health screening on our list is a simple blood test that can help determine your cardiovascular risk. Usually after a period of fasting, you will head to your clinic’s lab for a blood draw so your doctor can check the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides. These factors can help determine the likelihood of plaque buildup in your arteries that can be a dangerous precursor to heart disease, the number one killer of women in the U.S. Since there are no outward signs or symptoms for high cholesterol, it’s essential to have this test regularly. Knowing your numbers can help you take steps to avoid life-threatening blockages.

Discover 10 facts about heart disease in women in this infographic.

  1. Colorectal screening

Helps detect: Colon cancer
You’re due if: You are over age 50, it’s been 5-10 years since your last test, or your doctor recommends it

Your colon is part of the large intestine, the last part of your digestive tract. Screenings that detect for cancer here may include stool-based tests that are often done at home or visual exams where a doctor will use a scope or x-ray.

The most commonly known colorectal screening method is a colonoscopy. During this procedure, your doctor inserts a scope that passes through the entire length of the colon and rectum, which helps them look for polyps that could lead to colon cancer. If any are found, they will be removed and may be submitted for biopsy.

The at-home, stool-based test can be obtained at our clinic. Schedule an appointment to discuss with your provider whether this test is appropriate for you.

While these routine women’s health screenings are important to have on your radar, they aren’t the only tests to keep in mind. Check out our Women’s Guide to Recommended Medical Tests by Age infographic for more routine screenings to consider throughout your lifespan.

Our doctors and women’s health team are here to help you determine the tests and frequency schedule that are right for you. Call (920) 885-6090 or request an appointment online today.

This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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