Medical tests for women

Table of contents:

Medical tests for women
Medical tests for women

Three important medical examinations that should not be trivialised! Learn all about the Pap test, breast self-examination and the thyroid gland!


Breast self-examination

At least once a month, you should perform a breast self-examination. For example, choose to always have an exam during your shower after your period. If you examine yourself just before your period and the following month after your period, then it would be more normal to notice some differences. Your breasts change appearance for a month depending on your hormonal cycle, so it's a good idea to always have the exam at the same time in your cycle.

Each breast is unique. Some women have a more bumpy or thicker breast than others. What to look for is a change! So, we must know the normal consistency of our breasts before looking for an unusual appearance. Get to know your breasts and then be able to spot lumps, lumps, changes in appearance or texture, thickening or pain that weren't there before. Note that it is possible to feel pain in the breasts during your period or during pregnancy.

To help you, make a personal map of your breasts to remind you of theirnormal appearance. Also visit this site to see and hear how to do a good breast exam.

General Notes

  • We start with the general appearance of the breasts and nipples to note any changes there before even feeling them.
  • Then, we palpate her breasts standing and lying down. Thus, by changing position, the breast tissue moves leaving you the field free for a very complete examination.
  • Three methods of examining the breasts: clock (movement in a line towards the nipple), circle (we turn around the nipple) or in zigag (from left to right of the breast while streaking the breast). We follow these imaginary lines by making small circular movements.
  • Some people prefer to do the exam in the shower or in the bath, while their skin is wet. The fingers slide more easily and are thus more sensitive. You can also put on lotion or soap to combine business with pleasure!
  • We combine firmness and softness: it is necessary to press well without exaggerating.
  • We examine the entire surface, compare the breasts and vary the positions.

Find out more

  • Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Breast Self Examination PDF Document

Pap test

Also called vaginal cytology or smear, the Pap test (or Pap test) is a very simple examination that aims to prevent cancer of the cervix. The doctor removes with a speculum or a small brush asample of cells present on your cervix and have it analyzed. In less than five minutes, you're done! Unpleasant, but effective! Recent research proves that the Pap test would prevent 90% of cervical cancers! It's a pity that many women do not undergo this examination systematically every year.

Cervical cancer is one of the only cancers to be caused by a virus, HPV (human papillomavirus), transmitted during sexual relations through skin contact with the genitals of an infected person. This virus - which comes in about 100 different forms - is a very common sexually transmitted infection that also causes warts (hands, feet, vagina, anus, groins, thighs, testicles, penis, cervix, etc.). Often up to 70% of sexually active women carry the virus without knowing it because it does not cause any symptoms or make them sick. Their bodies will eliminate the virus without them realizing it! The evolution of cervical cancer is very slow: up to 10 years can separate infection with the virus and the onset of cancer. This is why the Pap test is so important! HPV changes the appearance of cells in the cervix. “Thus, a regular Pap test will ensure early detection of any abnormal cells. The most common reason for the formation of cervical cancer in women is that the latter did not submit to a Pap test,” recalls the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Thanks to the Pap test, specialistscheck whether the collected cells show damage or have undergone changes (even before they developed into cancer). Thus, the test makes it possible to detect anomalies early. A negative result therefore shows normal cells. A positive result means that lesions were found, but does not mean that they are cancerous, that abnormalities are present, or that changes in the cervix have been noted. Your doctor will invite you to consult him again for other examinations (a colposcopy or a biopsy). Taken early, these pre-cancerous lesions are usually treatable without any problem.


The College of Family Physicians of Canada advises caution and urges women to be screened as soon as they begin to be sexually active. “Some doctors will recommend that you have a Pap test every year. Others will tell you to get a Pap test once a year until you've had normal results three times. Then you should have a Pap test at least every three years if they are still normal,” suggests the College. The He althy Women's Network suggests using condoms, quitting smoking, limiting the number of sexual partners and getting regular Pap tests to help your body fight the virus.

Did you know…An estimated 1400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. How many of these cases could be prevented by getting a Pap test?regularly?

Find out more

  • HPV Info
  • College of Family Physicians of Canada

Thyroid Gland

Does your doctor palpate the base of your neck? Great! He's checking your thyroid! Located at the base of the neck in front of the vocal cords (under the Adam's apple), the thyroid gland has a great influence on the organs and cells of our body. Iodine is one of the essential elements for the functioning of the thyroid. PasseportSanté specifies that it produces hormones that regulate cell metabolism, and which determine, among other things, the rate at which our body uses lipids, proteins and carbohydrates.

Thyroid gland disorders affect about one in twenty people in Canada and many more women than men. PasseportSanté reveals that hyperthyroidism strikes eight women for every man and often manifests itself in people between the ages of 20 and 40. IF someone in your family has it, you are more at risk.

Thyroid problems

A nodule without necessarily being painful and usually asymptomatic can be cancerous (about 5% of cases), but can also produce an excess of hormones, thus creating a state of hyperthyroidism. Nodules are more common in women than men.

A goiter is an enlargement of the entire thyroid gland unlike a nodule which is the appearance of a small mass on the gland. Goiter is not necessarily asign of another condition. Puberty, pregnancy or certain diseases can cause goiter. In a case of hyperthyroidism, the body works at full speed! The metabolism intensifies and exceeds the measure. Here are some possible symptoms:

  • weight loss despite good appetite, muscle weakness
  • palpitations, rapid and exaggerated beating of the heart
  • shaking,
  • profuse sweating, hot flashes and heat intolerance
  • diarrhea
  • restlessness, nervousness, anxiety and insomnia
  • appearance of goiter
  • menstrual disturbances.

For hypothyroidism, it means that the functioning of the thyroid is insufficient. Here are some symptoms:

  • weak and slow heartbeat
  • muscle weakness and constant fatigue
  • cold sensitivity
  • swelling and thickening of the skin
  • slowed mental faculties and impaired memory
  • constipation
  • appearance of goiter

Warning! Most thyroid dysfunctions require lifelong treatment or follow-up. Consult your doctor

  • Quebec Association of Medical Endocrinologists
  • The Thyroid Foundation of Canada


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