Health Tests for Women

11-05-2022

Posted By: EnvisionWell

Health Tests for Women

Health Tests for Women

 

Bone Mineral Density Test (BMD)

Why you need this:

Osteoporosis occurs four times more often in women than in men. Get tested as often as advised by your doctor.

What to do before the test:

Dress in clothing that makes it comfortable to lie on a table.

What to expect:

A common and reliable method used is the Dexa-Scan (DXA). With your clothes on, you lie on a table. A low energy X-ray is taken of your hip and/or spine. Portable BMD screening devices are used to scan a heel or fingers. They are not as accurate as a DXA scan, but may be used at workplaces, health fairs, etc. Other ways to measure bone mineral density are CT scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds.

What the results mean:

Normal is a BMD value less than 1 standard deviation below the young adult mean. Osteopenia (low bone mass) is a BMD value between -1 and -2.5 standard deviation below the young adult mean. Osteoporosis is a BMD value at least -2.5 standard deviations below the young adult mean.

Breast Exam

Why you need this:

Screens for signs of breast problems, including cancer.

What to do before the test:

If you still menstruate, it is best to schedule the exam 3 or more days after your menstrual period. Your breasts are usually more swollen and tender the week before your period.

What to expect:

The doctor or nurse carefully feels your breasts and under your arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.

What the results mean:

If a lump or other problem is felt, the doctor may prescribe a mammogram or other follow up tests.

 

Cervical Cancer Screening - Pap Test & Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Test

Why you need this:

HPV test checks for DNA of high-risk types of human papillomavirus that can cause abnormal cells and cervical cancer. HPV test results are of value only with your Pap test results. Having a Pap test and an HPV test is an option for women ages 30 and older. If both tests are negative, the risk for cervical cancer is very low and women can opt to wait five years before another screening. Note: More than 40 types of HPV infect the vulva, cervix, anus, and penis. HPV testing for cervical cancer does not screen for other forms of cancers linked to HPV. It does not screen for genital warts and  other sexually transmitted infections, either.

What to do before the test:

You do not need any special preparation before an HPV test, but follow the same procedures as for Pap test, listed on this page, if both tests are done at the same time. HPV testing can also be done to provide more information when a Pap test’s results are not clear.

What to expect:

An HPV test is done the same way as a Pap test. The test can be done at the same time as the Pap test, using the same swab or a second swab.

What the results mean:

A negative HPV test means you do not have an HPV type that is linked to cervical cancer.

A positive HPV test means you do have an HPV type that may be linked to cervical cancer. This does not mean you have cervical cancer now. But it could be a warning.

Treatment depends on results your HPV and Pap test results. This includes:

•  Having repeat tests to monitor changes

•  Taking a closer look at your cervix (a colposcopy)

•  Removing abnormal cells

•  Treating for cancer, if present

 

Cervical Cancer Screening - Pap Test (or Pap Smear)

Why you need this:

Checks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not properly treated. Regular screening and follow-up can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early. Cervical cancer is the most preventable type of female cancer. Note: The Pap test does not screen for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers.

What to do before the test:

If you still menstruate, schedule the test for a time you will not be having a menstrual period. Don’t douche, tub-bathe, or use vaginal creams for 48 to 72 hours before the test. Avoid sex within 24 hours of the test.

What to expect:

You need to undress below the waist. You lie down on the exam table and put your feet in the stirrups attached to the bottom of the table. A device called a speculum is inserted into the vagina. A long cotton swab is used to take a sample of cells from the cervical area. This does not usually hurt. You may feel a brief pinch. The sample is analyzed for abnormal cells.

What the results mean:

Results come back as:

•  Negative (normal) — No cell changes were found on your cervix. Continue to get regular Pap tests in the future.

•  Unclear — This means the cells on the cervix could be abnormal. Or, the cells could not be clearly identified. Cell changes could be due to an infection, menopause, or other life changes. The changes could also be related to human papillomavirus (HPV) types that have a high risk for cervical cancer. Your doctor can order a test to check for HPV.

•  Abnormal — Cell changes were found on your cervix. A likely cause is HPV, but this does not mean you have cervical cancer. Abnormal cells can be: Low-grade changes are minor and could go back to normal on their own. Your doctor can order a test to check for HPV types that have a high risk for cervical cancer. High-grade changes are serious. They could turn into cancer if they are not removed. Cancer may be found, but other tests need to confirm this.

 

Chlamydia Screening

Why you need this:

Three fourths of females with this STI have no symptoms, so they can pass it on to others without knowing it. When it is not treated, pelvic inflammatory disease can result. This can make a woman unable to get pregnant.

What to expect:

The doctor takes a urine test or uses a swab or brush to take a sample of cells from the infected area, such as the cervix or uterus. The sample is checked for the bacteria that causes chlamydia. It is also checked for gonorrhea at the same time because this STI has symptoms like that of chlamydia.

What the results mean:

If the test is positive, you have an active infection. The doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat chlamydia (or gonorrhea). Your sex partner(s) should be treated, too.

 

Mammogram

Why you need this:

Screens for signs of breast problems, including cancer.

What to do before the test:

Schedule the test at an approved testing facility. Find out from the National Cancer Institute at 800.4.CANCER (422.6237) or www.cancer.gov. If you still menstruate, try not to schedule the test during the week before a period. On the day of the test, don’t wear lotions, powders, perfumes or deodorant. They can cause shadows on the X-ray pictures. Wear slacks or a skirt with a blouse or top, so you only need to undress from the waist up.

What to expect:

You will need to undress above the waist. You put on a gown that covers your front and back. The test is quick and easy: You stand up in front of the X-ray machine. The person who takes the X-rays places one breast between two plastic plates. The plates press your breast and make it flat. This can feel uncomfortable, but it lasts only seconds. The machine has an automatic release. The same test is done on the other breast. Then side images are taken for both breasts for a total of 4 X-rays.

What the results mean:

A radiologist reads the X-rays and sends the results to your doctor. A report is sent to you within 30 days. A normal result means the radiologist did not find anything that needs follow up. Continue to get screening mammograms. If the result is abnormal, it means the radiologist saw:

•  A change from a past mammogram.

•  A change that needs follow up.

•  Your doctor will order follow up tests, as needed, such as an ultrasound or an MRI. If one of these shows a solid mass, your doctor may prescribe a biopsy of the mass.

The good news is that about 80% of lumps are not cancerous.

 

Pelvic Exam

Why you need this:

Checks for problems on the outside of the vaginal area and inside the vagina and cervix.

What to do before the test:

Follow guidelines for Pap smear.

What to expect:

The doctor does a physical exam of the vaginal area. A Pap smear is usually done with a pelvic exam. The doctor may also insert a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum. This can feel uncomfortable, but does not usually cause pain.

What the results mean:

If no problems are found, continue to have pelvic exams yearly or as advised by your doctor. If a problem is found, your doctor will prescribe follow-up tests or exams.

 

Source: AIPM

 

 

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