Women talking
This article waslast modified on November 7, 2018.

Women lead very busy lives fulfilling roles professionally as well as personally, and it can sometimes be difficult to pay attention to one’s health. In addition to health issues that affect men and women equally, there are some conditions unique to women or that affect women disproportionately. Use the resources in this article to learn about these conditions, the ways that lab tests can help identify and/or monitor these conditions and what you can do to stay healthy and extend your healthy years.

Learn about general health screenings for women

Preventive medicine is one area of healthcare in which all women can exercise more responsibility and control over their health. Getting regular screening tests for common health problems is a simple and effective first step.

Screening tests can give you and your healthcare provider the information needed to identify health risks and take preventive measures before they become more serious problems. Getting routine tests performed even though you have no symptoms can help detect problems early and help you benefit from easier and more effective treatment. It can sometimes even prevent disease.

Two panels of tests are frequently used as general health screenings. These tests can screen for a number of health issues at the same time. Your healthcare practitioner may order these when you have a general health examination:

Blood Test Panels Examples of Conditions Screened
Complete blood count (CBC) Anemia, infection, iron deficiency, bleeding disorders
Complete metabolic panel (CMP) Liver disease, kidney disease, electrolyte and acid/base balance

 

It's easy to take these tests for granted, but their power to keep you healthier longer should not be underestimated. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about getting the recommended health screenings. Learn about other screening tests that can help keep you healthy:

Condition screened Tests
Diabetes Glucose, A1c
Heart disease, high cholesterol Lipid panel
High blood pressure Blood pressure reading
Obesity Body Mass Index (BMI)
Osteoporosis Dexa scan
Sexually transmitted diseases Chlamydia, Gonorrhea tests
HIV HIV antibody and antigen test
Breast cancer Mammogram
Cervical cancer HPV test, Pap smear
Colon cancer Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT), colonscopy

 

Do you take biotin for healthier hair, skin and nails?

You should know that if you take biotin pills or supplements, it can interfere with some laboratory tests. If you are scheduled to have some lab work done and take biotin, view the video Biotin: Friend and Foe and  read the article Biotin Affects Some Blood Tests Results to learn more.

Learn about some conditions that can affect women's health

Understand conditions that can affect women’s health and learn about some related tests that may be done to help screen for, diagnose and/or monitor the course and treatment of these conditions:

Conditions/diseases Examples of related tests

Autoimmune diseases
(e.g., lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), scleroderma)

Antinuclear antibody (ANA)anti-dsDNALupus anticoagulant, Scl-70 antibody, Centromere antibody

Breast cancer

BRCA mutationHER2Estrogen/Progesterone ReceptorBreast Cancer gene expression tests

Cervical cancer

HPV testPap smear

Chronic fatigue syndrome Iron tests, Thyroid panel (TSH, Free T4), ANA 
Fibromyalgia Thyroid panel, ANA, CK (creatine kinase)
Infertility

Luteinizing hormone (LH)Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)ProlactinProgesteroneEstrogenAnti-Müllerian hormone (AMH)

Menopause

FSH, Estradiol, Thryoid panel, AMH

Ovarian cancer

CA-125 (Cancer antigen 125)HE4 (Human epididymis protein 4)BRCA mutation, Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)Lactate dehydrogenase (LD)

Pelvic inflammatory disease Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Urinalysis, Urine culture
Polycystic ovary syndrome LH, FSH, Testosterone, Estrogens, Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), Androstenedione, AMH
Thyroid diseases
(e.g. Graves disease, Hashimoto thryoiditis)
Thyroid panel (TSH, Free T4, Total and Free T3), Thyroid antibodies
Vagninosis and vagnitis Gram stain, Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, Syphilis, HIV testing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight: Pregnancy

 

Pregnant woman

Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life that puts extra stress on her body and health. Prenatal care is important for ensuring your health during this special time as well as ensuring the health of your developing baby or babies. You should plan a visit to your healthcare practitioner when you are planning a pregnancy or when you think you are pregnant, so you can get an early start on a wellness plan.

When you are planning a pregnancy or already expecting, your healthcare practitioner will likely recommend that several tests be done. Prenatal tests are used to screen for and diagnose any existing problems that may affect your health or baby's health, identify and address problems as they arise, and assess the risk of a baby having a chromosomal or genetic disorder. The tests generally require just a small sample of easily obtained blood, urine, or cervical cells.

Some of these tests are performed prior to a pregnancy and at specified times throughout the pregnancy. Others are ordered as needed to detect and address conditions or problems that arise during pregnancy. Still others are offered to women who have increased risks because of their age or other factors and, finally, certain tests are selectively chosen based on the personal and family medical histories of the woman and her partner.

To learn more about the recommended tests during pregnancy, read the following articles: