Is it time for your yearly exam? What women should know
Women’s health is vital to our well-being, and that includes making sure that we see a doctor on a yearly basis. An annual exam for women will consist of special screenings and tests that women shouldn’t go without. Some women dread their annual physical, and some go into their exam with fear of the unknown. Understanding the different tests that should be performed and understanding how to read the results of said tests is as important as the screening itself.
Physical screenings for women’s health
Women across the globe know that they should be seeing their primary care doctor at least once a year for their annual checkup, but what tests and screenings should women be having done?
Heart and Lung Screening
Your heart health plays an important role in your overall health, and a women’s annual checkup should include a heart and lung screening. Your doctor will take a few minutes to listen to your heart as well as the air moving through your body. If he hears any abnormalities, such as skipped beats, gurgles of air, etc., he will request further tests.
An annual exam should include a simple reflex test that is performed by your doctor hitting your knee with a small mallet. You may also be asked to perform a balance and/or a strength test by pushing your hands against his.
Overall Body Screening
A women’s annual exam should include your doctor feeling your neck, head, and abdomen for any abnormalities or pain points. They may also check the curve of your spine and the flexibility of your arm and leg joints to look for decreased mobility.
Blood tests for women’s health
A women’s annual exam should include lab work. These blood tests can give doctors a better look at how your body is working from the inside. If one of these blood tests is not performed at your annual visit, ask your doctor if it should be.
Blood Sugar Test
This test measures the amount of glucose in your blood. A high amount of glucose can indicate diabetes or prediabetes. A healthy number is below 100mg/dl. The prediabetes range is 100mg/dl to 125 mg/dl. Exercise and healthy eating choices can help keep your blood sugar levels at a normal level.
Lipid Panel Test
A Lipid Panel Test is important for women’s heart health. This test measures cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood. The ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) can tell a doctor a lot about your overall health. A healthy woman should have less than 200mg/dl of total cholesterol with a reading of 40mg/dl or higher of HDL and a reading of 100mg/dl or less of LDL.
Called a TSH Test, this test ensures that the thyroid gland is working properly. Your thyroid produces the thyroid-stimulating hormones. This hormone is essential to women’s health. It helps to maintain the metabolic rate, digestive system, heart system, muscle control, and so much more. When too much TSH is produced, women can feel lethargic, can gain weight, and may feel extra cold. When too little is produced, women may experience heart palpitations, hot flashes, and may lose an unexplained amount of weight. The chart below shows the range for TSH levels.
Low and high levels of TSH can be treated with prescription medicine.
A yearly checkup is an integral part of women’s health, and knowing which tests should be performed and what the results should look like is an important step in being proactive about your health.