Ever notice how we look at health more as an afterthought—treatment over prevention? Well, if you’re a woman in your 30s, it’s about time you consider routine medical screening as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Anatomically, women are at a greater risk of developing certain medical conditions especially due to hormonal changes. And as you grow older, these risks increase.
However, something as simple as regular screening can help diagnose any underlying conditions early on.
10 Medical Screenings All Women Must Get Done Regularly
A great way to cover all your bases is to get regular health checkups. Book lab tests to understand and monitor your sexual, menstrual and reproductive health. We’ve put together a list of tests that you can get before you turn 35.
1. STI/STD Test
Why You Should Get Tested: Whether you’re in a relationship or having casual sex, an STI/STD test is essential. It is very beneficial to know your STI status before you get sexually active. Did you know that unprotected oral sex can lead to STIs and STDs too and It is not just penetration?
It’s always better to err on the side of caution, as HIV (a sexually transmitted infection) can even get transmitted by unsanitary use of needles. Also, most STIs/STDs are asymptomatic so getting tested is always the safer option.
While blood and urine samples are the most common methods for this test, vaginal, cervical, or urethral swabs, Pap Smears and HPV testing are also not uncommon.
2. PAP Smear
Why You Should Get Tested: A Pap Smear is often prescribed once in 5 years, along with a human papillomavirus (HPV) screening, when you are over 25. The test can detect cervical cancer in women and also identify changes in the cervical cells that may indicate the possibility of cancer in the future.
The Pap test involves collecting cells from the cervix using a speculum—the lower, tapering end of the uterus located at the top of your vagina.
3. Vitamin D Test
Why You Should Get Tested: Vitamin D deficiency is more common in women than men. The Vitamin D test is used to screen for or monitor bone disorders. It is also sometimes used to check vitamin D levels in people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, psoriasis, and certain autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D deficiency (not enough vitamin D) symptoms include bone weakness, bone softness, and fractures. The deficiency of this vitamin may present as tiredness, headaches, depression, impaired cognitive performance, and musculoskeletal pain and weakness.
Low vitamin D impairs the function of your skeletal muscles, which is why if you feel tiredness and fatigue, you should get tested.
4. Vitamin B12 Test
Why You Should Get Tested: Vitamin B12 is essential for the efficient functioning of the nerves, the production of red blood cells and protein metabolism. Low vitamin B12 can lead to constipation, fatigue, and weight loss, apart from neurological symptoms.
Vegetarians, breastfeeding women, people with Crohn’s disease and gastric bypass surgery are susceptible to abnormal ranges of vitamin B12.
Low vitamin B12 levels inhibit the production of red blood cells in the body, slowing down the flow of oxygen in the blood. This causes you to experience extreme / above normal fatigue. If you are tired all the time, low B12 levels might be one of the reasons.
5. Breast Cancer Screening
Why You Should Get Tested: About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. However, complete remission and recovery are significantly higher if breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage.
Breast cancer screening, as the name indicates, aims at detecting the presence of cancerous cells in the breasts even before symptoms appear. It seeks to find cancer at an early stage when it can be treated, and perhaps, cured. At times, these screenings diagnose cancers that are very small or are growing very slowly.
Women should get mammography once every year after the age of 40. It is the most common screening test for breast cancer.
6. Iron Deficiency Screening
Why You Should Get Tested: Iron deficiencies lead to a host of medical conditions, the most common being anaemia. According to the National Family Health Survey (2019-2020), more than half of the women and children in India are anaemic.
Low levels of iron can cause extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, dizziness, weakness, and tingling in the legs, among other symptoms that deteriorate the quality of your day-to-day life.
Iron deficiency screening checks for the level of iron in the blood. The most commonly used screening test for iron deficiency is Haemoglobin. This helps determine whether the iron in your body is within the normal range or whether you are deficient in it.
Low iron levels inhibit the production of red blood cells in the body, slowing down the flow of oxygen in the blood. This causes you to experience extreme / above normal fatigue.
7. Diabetes Screening
Why You Should Get Tested: Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease by about four times in women. What’s more, women are at risk of developing gestational diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) when they’re pregnant. Diagnosing diabetes early can improve the quality and longevity of your life, allowing you to manage the condition with medication. If caught later, your treatment plan may involve you needing to take insulin shots at prescribed times during the day.
It is generally recommended that you undertake a diabetes screening test once every 3 years. This is especially important if you are obese or are genetically predisposed to blood sugar irregularities and insulin resistance. Other risk factors for developing diabetes include a family history of the disease, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and a history of impaired fasting glucose (IFG), or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
Diabetes screening tests include Glycated Haemoglobin A1C test, Fasting Plasma Glucose test (FPG), Random Blood Glucose (RBG), urine glucose etc. You can get these tests along with your full body checkup.
8. Thyroid Screening
Why You Should Get Tested: Thyroid conditions are more common in women than men. Results below normal indicate a possibly overactive thyroid, while above-normal imply a potentially underactive thyroid. While it is commonly known that impaired thyroid function can cause weight loss or weight gain, other problems include increased risk of autoimmune diseases, iodine deficiency, inflammation in the body, and nodules.
With hypothyroidism, your thyroid is underactive which slows down your metabolism. With hyperthyroidism, your thyroid is overactive which speeds up your metabolism. In both cases, because your metabolism is not functioning optimally, you end up experiencing extreme / above normal fatigue.
As the name suggests, the screening test measures Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels to analyse the effectiveness of the functioning of the thyroid gland. These blood tests include TSH tests, T4 tests, and T3 tests.
9. Heart Health Test
Why You Should Get Tested: Heart disease is among the leading, most preventable causes of death among women because their symptoms present very differently than in men.
To check heart health, it is necessary to check your blood pressure and undergo a few blood tests.
Lipid profile blood test measures the levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol, along with Triglycerides and T.cholesterol levels. It is also important to check levels of lipoprotein A with apolipoproteins A1and B.
A CBC blood panel can test for basic markers while an ECG or an exercise stress test may be recommended for further investigation of any irregularities.
10. Metabolic Marker Screening
Why You Should Get Tested: Metabolism is the process of how the body uses food and energy. Basic metabolic tests provide important information about the body’s chemical balance and metabolism.
Comprehensive metabolic screening measures different enzymes made by the liver. A urine analysis may also be done as part of a routine medical exam to screen for early signs of disease.
If you’re above 18 and drink alcohol, you can also opt for the alcohol metabolism test. It helps assess the effect of alcohol consumption on your health and can serve as a guideline for you to drink more responsibly. You need to observe overnight fasting before your blood sample is collected and tested. The test can be performed at any time, irrespective of when you last had alcohol.