6 minute read
Routine health testing: a guide for women
Published August 5, 2023
As we go through our daily routines, it's easy to forget about our health until something goes wrong. It can be difficult to keep track of what tests we need and how often we should get them. To help you out, we've put together a guide of certain tests that might be worth considering. This information isn’t intended to cover all health testing recommendations. The recommendations for health testing can change over time as new research becomes available. They might also be different for you depending on your health risks. It’s always best to talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you.
Why is health testing important?
There are many reasons why getting routine health testing is important. Here are a few:
- They can help you stay healthy
- They can help prevent diseases
- They can help detect diseases early, when treatment is most effective
Regular health screenings are important for everyone, regardless of age or sex. But there are some tests that are more important for people of certain ages or genders. It’s important to talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you. Your doctor can help you decide how often you need screenings based on your personal risk factors.
Who makes health testing recommendations?
When it comes to your health, it's important to know what tests you should be getting and when. Luckily, there are organizations that provide recommendations based on your age, gender, and risk factors, including:
- The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of volunteer experts that makes recommendations about preventive services. The USPSTF's recommendations are based on a careful review of the scientific evidence.
- The American College of Physicians (ACP), a professional organization for physicians and makes recommendations based on the best available evidence.
- The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a professional organization for family physicians and makes recommendations based on the best available evidence.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional organization for obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYNs). ACOG is dedicated to the health of women and promotes excellence in women's healthcare.
Health tests to consider every year (or as often as necessary)
Many people who have high cholesterol don't know it.
The USPSTF recommends that women ages 40 to 75 get their total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels checked every 5 years and have your cardiovascular disease risk assessed regularly.¹
Know your numbers with the Cholesterol (Lipid) Panel. Measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels to help identify risk for heart attack, heart disease, and other diseases of the blood vessels.
Type 2 Diabetes risk
Prediabetes is a silent epidemic. About 96 million adults don't know they have it. This condition puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.²
The USPSTF recommends screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in adults ages 35 to 70 years who are overweight or obese. Screening may start at an earlier age in people who are at higher risk of developing the condition.³
Consider the Diabetes Risk Panel to check your glucose (blood sugar) level, hemoglobin A1c, and total cholesterol to help determine your risk of diabetes and measure your heart health.
Thyroid function test
Thyroid disorders can affect women of all ages. Noticeable changes in your weight, temperature, and energy may be a sign or symptom that there is too much or too little thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood. Getting tested is important, especially for those with a family history, as undiagnosed thyroid disease can cause infertility, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis (bone loss), and heart disease.
The Thyroid TSH Function Test checks your levels of TSH produced in the pituitary gland, and can confirm if your thyroid is working properly.
Comprehensive health profile
A comprehensive health profile contains screening tests to provide a deep dive into your health to paint a more complete picture of your overall wellness. A health profile can also be used to track your health over time and identify any changes.
The Comprehensive Health Profile—Women’s includes tests for heart health, kidney health, liver health, bone health, thyroid health, diabetes risk, and other health factors. This health profile also includes physical measurements (biometrics), a health risk assessment, a personalized health quotient score, and the option to discuss your results with an independent physician at no extra cost.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea screening
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 1.6 million cases of chlamydia and 710,151 cases of gonorrhea in the United States.⁴ It’s not always possible to know if you have chlamydia or gonorrhea because many people don’t have symptoms. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
The USPSTF recommends screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea in sexually active women ages 24 years or younger every year and in women 25 years or older who are at increased risk for infection. Women who are at increased risk for infection include those who have a new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a STI.⁵
The Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Test offers an easy and confidential way to screen for two of the most common STIs. Or choose our STD Screening Panel—Expanded to conveniently screen for 7 sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, trichomoniasis, syphilis, HIV-1, and HIV-2).
Health tests to consider at least once (or more depending on your lifestyle)
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening
HIV is a viral, sexually transmitted infection that, without appropriate treatment, will progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV attacks the immune cells and weakens the body’s defense against infection. The virus can pass from person to person through contact with HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, or blood. Most people get HIV through anal or vaginal sex, or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment.
The USPSTF recommends screening for people who are at increased risk of infection. Earlier or additional screening should be based on risk.⁶
Know your HIV status with the HIV 1 & 2 Test with Confirmation—a reliable HIV test that can detect HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection in its early stages, even before antibodies are produced.
Or consider the OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test for a convenient and discreet way to test for antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 at home with quick and easy results—in just 20 minutes.
Hepatitis C screening
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness that goes away on its own. But for about 75% of people who are infected with HCV, the infection becomes chronic (long term). Chronic hepatitis C can cause serious liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.⁷
The USPSTF recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 79 who are asymptomatic (without symptoms) and don’t have known liver disease should be screened for hepatitis C at least once. Adults with a history of injection drug use should be screened periodically. Screening for other ages or additional screening should be based on risk.⁸
Consider the Hepatitis C Test with Confirmation to check for HCV antibodies and RNA to determine if you have been infected.
All women have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. But only some women have mutations in those genes. About one in every 500 women in the United States has a mutation in either their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. These inherited mutations can put a woman at a higher risk of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, and peritoneal cancer.⁹
The USPSTF recommends that women with a personal or family history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer, or who have an ancestry associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, should be screened for these mutations. Women with a positive result should receive genetic counseling and, if indicated after counseling, genetic testing. Women without positive family histories do not require genetic counseling or BRCA testing.¹⁰
You deserve to know as much as you can to help prevent future health problems. Consider the new Genetic Insights health screening, currently available exclusively at questhealth.com, that can help you identify health risks based on your genetics.
No doctor visit is required to buy your own lab test at questhealth.com. PWNHealth and its affiliates review your purchase to ensure it is medically appropriate before submitting the test order for processing. PWNHealth also reviews your test results and will contact you directly if they require prompt attention. Included in each purchase is the option to discuss your test results with an independent physician; however, you are also encouraged to speak with your primary health care provider.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Statin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults: U.S Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2022;328(8):746-753. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.13044
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2021;326(8):736-743. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.12531
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The State of STDs Infographic. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/infographic.htm.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2021;326(10):949–956. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.14081
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for HIV infection: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2019;321(23):2326-2336. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.6587.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hepatitis C. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/viral-hepatitis/hepatitis-c.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for hepatitis C virus infection in adolescents and adults: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2020;323(10):970- 975. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1123.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BRCA Gene Mutations. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/bringyourbrave/hereditary_breast_cancer/brca_gene_mutations.htm.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Risk assessment, genetic counseling, and genetic testing for BRCA-related cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2019;322(7):652-665. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.10987.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org
- American Academy of Family Physicians. Clinical Recommendations. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.aafp.org/family-physician/patient-care/clinical-recommendations.html.
- American College of Physicians. Clinical Information. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.acponline.org/clinical-information.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Clinical. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.acog.org/clinical.