Women’s health and preventative screening

Dr Thapelo Motshudi
22 August 2022
2 min read

Preventative health screening tests are used to detect diseases before symptoms are present. The goals are early detection, thus leading to the necessary lifestyle changes; reducing the risk of going on to develop more serious or chronic diseases or to detect conditions early enough for effective treatment. In general, screening tests should be relatively cheap, fairly easy to perform, and not require highly specialised skills; the tests should have minimal or no side effects. In addition, screening should be performed for conditions for which fairly reliable tests exist and for which there is an effective treatment.

What are some of the screening tests available for women?

There are a number of conditions that affect women and can be detected fairly early using the appropriate screening tests. These can then be managed to avoid further progression. The type and frequency of screening tests to consider are determined by one’s age, risk profile, and family history. These conditions include the following:

  • Blood pressure - High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. All adult women should have their blood pressure tested annually.
  • Blood sugar - This should be checked regularly so that diabetes can be detected and managed early, especially in those who are overweight or obese.
  • Breast cancer- Screening is done with monthly breast self-examination and annual or biannual mammograms, which are dedicated x-rays of the breast.
  • Osteoporosis - This is caused by chronic loss of bone density, leading to the risk of developing fractures. It makes bones weak and brittle. The screening should be done by women over the age of 60.
  • Colon cancer - Symptoms include a change in bowel habits, blood in the stools, or unexplained weight loss. Screening can start at the age of 50 years by testing for blood in the stools or endoscopy, which is an examination of the intestines using a camera.
  • Cervical cancer - A Pap smear is done to examine the cells of the cervix, which is the opening of the womb.
  • Dental check-ups - A trip to the dentist is recommended every 6 months to keep the mouth healthy and look for early signs of decay and any other problems.

The content in this communication is for information purposes only and is not intended to be detailed advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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