Health Screening for Women
Health Screening for Women
Health screening is vital as it helps detect any disease early before any signs or symptoms appear. Although you feel absolutely fine, it is important to undergo regular health screening as the earlier you detect any disease and undergo appropriate treatment and follow up, the better the outcome.
Aside from the recommended general screening tests for adults, this article will focus on health screening for women.
For information on General Health Screening for Adults click HERE.
Cervical cancer screening:
With early detection and treatment, cervical cancer is greatly preventable and treatable. It is currently the 10th most common cancer in women in Singapore with the incidence decreasing with increasing public awareness and screening rates among women.
The current recommendation is any women who have had sexual intercourse aged between 25-69 years old, should have regular pap smear test done once every three years.
Breast cancer screening:
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in Singapore accounting for more than 25% of cancers diagnosed in women . The number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing every year with an average of about 3% yearly. Breast cancer can affect women of all age groups but is more common in women above the age of 40 years old.
The best way to detect breast cancer early is to have regular breast screening and being breast aware (knowing your own breast). It has been shown that regular breast screening can reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by up to 50%. Performing monthly self breast examination also keeps you aware of any changes to your breasts.
How to perform Breast Self Examination – click HERE
The current recommended guidelines for breast screening in Singapore are:
Women 40 years and below: Monthly breast self – examination
Women 40-49 years old: Monthly breast self –examination and yearly mammogram
Women 50 years old and above: Monthly breast self- examination and mammogram every 2 years.
Osteoporosis is a bone condition characterized by low bone density causing bone fragility. As a result of this, one becomes more prone to fractures and this is particularly significant if it involves the hips and spine as fractures in either the hips or spine is associated with higher complication and death rates. Osteoporosis is 5 times more common in women compared to men and this risk increases after menopause and if a woman has any risk factors for osteoporosis.
It is recommended that all postmenopausal women (age above 50 years old) should have an osteoporosis screening. This is because after menopause, the fall in oestrogen production leads to bone loss and hence increases the risk of fractures.
For diagnosing osteoporosis, it involves performing a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test. It is a painless and non invasive test which involves low radiation exposure to areas such as the lower spine, hip or forearm.
For couples who have been trying for a baby and are concerned about sub-fertility, it is advisable to see a doctor for further assessments. There are various types of tests involved as part of the fertility screening in women as getting pregnant and staying pregnant requires many different components.
Besides a thorough medical history and physical examination to identify common causes of sub-fertility such as anaemia, weight issues or thyroid problems, your doctor may then proceed to order some tests to assess the different components associated with fertility.
Below is a guide to more common tests performed during a fertility screening in women:
To assess ovulation
The easiest way is by buying ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) from the pharmacy which you can test with your urine daily starting from day 10 of your cycle. On the day that you see a smiley face or a positive line on the kit means there is a LH surge in your body which indicates an egg is going to be released in the next 12 to 24 hours. This is a useful guide to know when you are most fertile and should have sex daily for the next 2 to 3 days.
Another method to assess for ovulation is by blood tests. Levels of different hormones are closely associated with ovulation and also to assess any hormone imbalances such as polycystic ovary syndrome which is a common cause of ovulation issues.
A more accurate method of assessing ovulation is by ultrasound scan. This is performed daily from day 10 of your cycle to assess the size of your follicles in your ovaries. Usually, a dominant follicle will get bigger and bigger every day until it suddenly disappears. When this happens, it means that the follicle has burst and an egg has been released.
To assess the patency of your fallopian tubes
This is done by a test called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) which entails having an X-ray while an opaque dye is injected through the cervix. The dye will identify any blockage in the fallopian tubes and also whether the shape of the uterine cavity is normal.
To assess the womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes and surrounding structures
A pelvis ultrasound scan can be performed either through the abdomen or vagina to assess the woman’s ovaries, womb and fallopian tubes. Certain conditions which can affect fertility such as fibroids, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome can be picked up on an ultrasound scan.
To assess for chlamydia infection
Chlamydia is the commonest sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the world. As it does not always present with symptoms, Chlamydia infection can be left untreated causing issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease and fertility problems.
The above is just a guideline on various types of screening recommended for women. If you are not sure what kind of screening or tests you should be having as it also depends on your age group and risk factors, please our doctors who will be able to further guide you with this.
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