Here are some regular tests women must take to keep diseases at bay

Biologically, women are prone to disease earlier in life because of several factors


BIOLOGICALLY, WOMEN are prone to disease earlier in life because of several factors that include hormonal and menstrual issues, childbearing and multitasking. Women’s health is generally ignored because of lack of time, awareness, and the many responsibilities a woman has. Also, regular screening is still not a priority.

A woman's immunity starts to diminish noticeably as early as age 30, and she is likelier than men to be affected by bone density loss, anaemia, thyroid issues, malnutrition, diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle disorders.

One way for women to ensure a healthy life is through early diagnosis. For this, regular checkups and screenings are beneficial. Though most health risks are present throughout life, women should get some routine checkups after they turn 20.

Prescribed tests for women in their early 20s:

PCOD/PCOS screening: This ovarian condition occurs because of hormonal imbalance. It is important to understand that polycystic ovary disease and polycystic ovary syndrome are different conditions. In PCOD, the ovaries release immature eggs that leads to hormonal imbalance and swollen ovaries; in PCOS, endocrine issues cause the ovaries to produce excess androgens (male sex hormone), which makes eggs prone to becoming cysts.

The conditions, in their early stages, can be treated with a healthy and active lifestyle. If one is facing symptoms along with menstrual irregularities, the gynaecologist will suggest screening. This includes a pelvic examination, blood tests and ultrasound. A followup test is recommended only if the symptoms persist.

The cost ranges from Rs200 to Rs3,300, based on various factors.

Pap smear: This is a test to identify cancer of the cervix before it becomes symptomatic. It also identifies precancerous changes and helps identify high-risk populations for cancer. An instrument called a speculum is used to collect cells from the cervix that are later tested. One needs to take a pap test at 21; if the results are normal, the patient should follow up with the test, once every three years, till they reach 65.

The cost ranges from Rs500 to Rs1,400.

Thyroid function test: A thyroid function test is prescribed to check the functioning of the thyroid gland in case of symptoms like weight gain, hair fall, dry skin, fatigue, mood swings, irregular periods and infertility. These could be because of thyroid disorders. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are detected through a series of blood checks. One is advised to take thyroid tests once a year or as frequently as advised by the doctor.

The average cost is between Rs300 and Rs700.

Apart from this, women are expected to get routine checkups for lipid profile and blood pressure, and mammograms at regular intervals as suggested by doctors.

Prescribed tests for women in their 50s:

Bone density test: This is to diagnose osteoporosis, which can cause fractures. Especially in women going through menopause or post-menopause. The bone density checkup should be done every two years. The test is performed through special X-ray beams called a DEXA scan.

The test costs between Rs1,500 and Rs6,000.

Blood glucose tests: Most diabetes cases go unnoticed because of a lack of screening and awareness. The delay in testing can cause vision impairment and kidney issues in women. One should get the glucose level tested as often as the doctor suggests, based on the risk factors.

The test costs around Rs200.

Complete urine exam: Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common condition among older women because of the physical structure of the urethra and the hormonal changes during menopause and post-menopause. It occurs because of the bacteria in the urinary tract. CUE not only helps detect UTIs, but also any hidden health complications in the kidney before it become serious. The frequency of the test depends on the doctor's recommendation.

The test costs between Rs100 and Rs300.

Another test women above 50 should frequently take is one for various vitamin deficiencies as that is quite common among older women.


Apart from the above-mentioned health risks, women are comparatively at a higher risk for conditions like hypertension and heart attack. One needs to get routine checkups to keep a lookout for any health complications, and to help with better treatment. Most conditions are difficult to prevent as the actual causes are not known. However, early detection of the conditions helps the doctor and the patient fight the illness effectively.

The writer is part of the obstetrics and gynaecology department, Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital, Koramangala, Bengaluru