Education, Health, and Safety

Mammogram, HPV test, pelvic ultrasound: What happens at each one and how can women prepare for them?

How often should you get checked: Annually. Dr Tan said a pelvic ultrasound should be part of a woman’s routine screening schedule, especially for women 30 and above, and those who are at risk of ovarian cancer. These include women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, Lynch syndrome or a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer in more than one relative.

Dr Tan Toh Lick, obstetrician and gynaecologist from Thomson Surgical Centre, added that a pelvic ultrasound can also help “check for uterine growth, including fibroid, polyp and cancer, as well as ovarian cyst and cancer”.

Best time to get checked: Between days seven and 10 of your menstrual cycle “when the endometrium (uterine lining) is thin and clear, and the ovaries are less likely to have any large follicles, which may be considered to be an ovarian cyst”, said Dr Tan.

Comfort level: Generally, a TA scan is completely comfortable, though you may feel a little uncomfortable with the ultrasound probe pressing firmly against your full bladder (imperative for the doctor to get good images of the area).

For a comfortable TV scan, the key is to remain relaxed, Dr Tan said. Some discomfort is common as the transducer is moved, but the pain should still be bearable.

Pre-appointment prep: A full bladder is required for a TA scan, so you will need to drink at least three cups of water from 30 minutes to an hour before the scan. If you’re getting a TV scan after, you should relieve yourself as an empty bladder is required for this screening.


And while these are the key checks to do, Prof Yong added that another test you might want to include, especially for women above the age of 65, is an “assessment for the risk of menopausal osteoporosis”. This is because not only does boss loss happen naturally with age, women also tend to have smaller, thinner and less dense bones than men.

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