Three must-have health tests

February 14, 2012, 10:53 am Caitlin Chang and Alyssa Giacobbe womenshealth

Our guide to the three health tests you really need.

You and Improved

Short on time but big on staying healthy? Start with the three most important medical tests

Pap smear

Yep, they suck. But like the Kardashians, you can’t avoid them. National Cervical Screening Program guidelines say all women over 18 should be having a Pap smear every two years, but the latest stats show you’re not going as often as you should.

In fact, the number of young women aged 25 to 29 having regular Pap tests has fallen 10 per cent over the past 15 years, according to the Cancer Council Victoria, with a general drop in all age groups.

Kate Broun, manager of Papscreen Victoria, says we’re avoiding the speculum because we don’t make time or we feel awkward. She also says it’s important to know that having the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is not enough.

“The Gardasil vaccine is a primary measure – it prevents certain types of HPV from entering the cells,” she explains, “while Pap tests are a secondary prevention – they detect cells that may be affected.”

Do it every two years, even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine. If you've changed doctors or addresses, register with the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation for a FREE SMS reminder every two years.

“Pap tests are 90 per cent effective,” says Broun. “Have them at regular intervals so if anything is missed, there’s time for it to be picked up in two years.”

Sexual health

Rates of chlamydia have hit epidemic proportions, with more than triple the infections than 10 years ago, says the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.

Experts believe these figures are partly due to lack of symptoms – 75 per cent show no signs – and misinformation.

“The message of STIs has been lost,” says sexual health expert Professor Anne Mitchell. “Women use condoms for contraception, so when they go on the pill, they’ll discard them.”

Chlamydia and other STIs can cause infertility or ectopic pregnancy so it’s worth being proactive.

Dr Kathy McNamee from Family Planning Victoria says an STI test “usually involves a urine test or self-taken vaginal swabs.”

Do it annually if you’re under 30 and sexually active. But “if you’ve had sex overseas or your partner might be at risk, see your GP asap,” says Dr McNamee.


You should have regular cholesterol checks when you hit 40 but even if you’re younger, a cholesterol test can assess your risk of heart disease, which kills four times more women than breast cancer.

Last year around two million women had some form of the disease, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Julie Anne Mitchell, NSW director of cardiovascular health programs for the Australian Heart Foundation, says there are “no obvious symptoms for high blood pressure and cholesterol, which is why it’s important to go to your GP for regular checks.”

Be extra vigilant if you have risk factors like high waist circumference (more than 88cm), diabetes or a history of heart disease in your family.

Do it annually if your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol measures more than 130. If it’s lower, get tested every five years.

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  1. harry12:16am Saturday 03rd November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Important health tests : (1) Do I eat a rainbow every day (blueberry ornage tomato lettuce pineapple beetroot etc) and (2) Do I walk 30 m9inutes average per day ?

  2. 24 0
    Scott M10:48am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    What a bunch of crackpots (making comments on this article)! I rarely bother reading Yahoo news as it is usually rubbish. Little did I know the lunatics that read it & make ludicrous comments. Yikes!

    1 Reply
  3. 0 29
    artists09:58am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Gardasil Vacine deaths are staggering. The mainstream views are designed to brainwash and kill. Think for yourself. You may be seen as a nut but you may save your life. Gardasil vacine is a killler

  4. 1 44
    Anne09:54am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Urgent Warning. This article is dangerous. Gardasil Vacine is dangerous. Please I beg you. Go to you tube type in Gardasil Vacine Deaths. There are many. You dont need it. Just like you dont need their processed fake food. If you believe the mainstream media and do what they say you will increase your risk of illness and death. I know it sounds nuts but your own research will uncover things they wont telll you. Do your own research and you may save your life.

    1 Reply
  5. 3 12
    Michelle09:36am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    One Square Meal Add that is flashing, Pure rubbish. It is GMO will kill you. Genetically Modified Food is everywhere and it will screw up your dna, alter it. Please learn about food do not believe these ads selling poison.

  6. 3 49
    Michelle09:34am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Pap smears are handled roughly and I was in so much pain I will never have one again. It was embarrasing and I would rather die. I dont trust doctors they probably insert some virus into your womb to kill you. Monsters.

  7. 4 46
    Michelle09:33am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    By the way soy is bad for you too. Never believe what the mainstream media tell you. You are being Brainwashed. Learn critical thinking. Question and research for yourself, you may save your own life or the life of a loved one. Please dont believe this garbage. They want to kill you. The governement do not care about you. It is time people realize it is the truth.

  8. 1 20
    Julie B09:29am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    How about just not sleeping around... that way you can save your time and money not needing STI tests.

  9. 2 39
    artists09:27am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    You have more chance of living by putting a gun to your had and firing than taking their evil vacines. For Gods sake wake up and do some research. People are becomong paralysed , dying. Lives destroyed from taking vacines the evidence and testimonies are staggering. It is evil, they are killers plain and simple

    1 Reply
  10. miklos07:53am Wednesday 15th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    thanks for let me make a comment to you yahoo!!! liar liar your house is on fire


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