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Your LIFE: What's up down.. BELOW?



FEMALE Chlamydia Home Screen Testing pack, pounds 11.74, from

Tests for: Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which often displays no symptoms in either men or women. However it can damage the Fallopian tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb and is the single largest cause of fertility problems in Western Europe.

Use if: You've had sex without a condom.

How it works: You insert a swab stick deep into the vagina and rub it around the cervix to get a good cell sample. Put the stick into the testing fluid and a colour change will indicate if you have chlamydia.

A positive results means you should see your GP for antibiotics and ask your partner to do the same. The downside with this test is that it's only as good as the swab sample you obtain. The laboratory chlamydia test, pounds 29.95, also from Access, is more accurate as you send a urine sample away for testing.


Vianalyse vaginal discharge test pack, pounds 11.74, from

Tests for: Thrush (a yeast infection) and a range of other bacterial, parasitic and yeast infections of the vagina.

Use if: You have an unusual vaginal discharge.

How it works: You wear a panty liner that changes colour if your discharge indicates an infection (this is picked up by a change in acidity). You'll need to see your GP for further diagnosis if you get a positive screen.


Plan Ahead from Boots, or call 0114 275 5723. pounds 179 plus the cost of a private blood test (about pounds 15).

Tests for: Changes in hormone levels as your fertility drops. The most sophisticated test of its kind, it checks levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) in combination with the hormones inhibin B and AMH which are produced by egg follicles and give an indication of how many eggs you have left.

Use if: You want to know how much time you've got to plan a baby.

How it works: You have to get a blood sample taken privately which you send off. It's tested for the hormones mentioned, above and comes up with your own ovarian reserve index which compares your number of eggs with the expected egg number for your age.


Novogen Menopause Test, pounds 14.95, from health stores, pharmacists and Boots.

Tests for: Rising levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which can be a sign of entering the menopause.

Use if: You think you might be nearing the menopause. Symptoms include irritability, tiredness, hot flushes and night sweats or irregular periods.

How it works: It's a urine test. Pee on the stick and you'll get a colour change result if there's an indication that you may be menopausal. There are two tests so you can double check your result at a later date.

Pregnancy dangers

Amniosense Test Pack, pounds 17.99 for seven tests from

Tests for: Leakage of amniotic fluid in pregnancy, which increases the risk of infection to both mother and baby. Early detection can help prevent complications.

Use if: You are more than 36 weeks' pregnant. Or earlier in pregnancy to identify a possible membrane rupture after amniocentesis (when your baby is tested for abnormalities).

How it works: You wear a panty liner incorporating an indicator strip. Wait until you feel a fluid leak, remove the indicator strip from the panty liner, and check for a change in colour. If the indicator strip is stained blue or green, amniotic fluid may be leaking from your uterus, or you may have a vaginal infection. You should consult your doctor or midwife or go to the hospital without delay.


Urine Infection test, pounds 8.99, from

Tests for: The presence of proteins, nitrite and leukocytes (white blood cells) in urine. These can appear as a result of cystitis (bladder infection). Most are caused by bacteria that settle around the urethra and then ascend into the rest of the urinary tract.

Use if: You have burning, stinging sensations when you pee. You may be particularly prone to cystitis during pregnancy.

How it works: Dip in your urine and read the results. See your GP if you have an infection as you may need antibiotics.


CHLAMYDIA and Gonorrhoea Lab Test, pounds 39.99, from

Tests for: A bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae which causes gonorrhoea, the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK, cases of which are rising every year.

Of those women who contract gonorrhoea, around half of them do not experience any symptoms, which means it can often go untreated for some time. This can cause serious health problems in later life, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which, left untreated, may lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy.

Use if: You've been sexually active with a number of partners and had unprotected sex. Young women between the ages of 16 and 19 are most commonly affected with gonorrhoea.

How it works: You send off a urine sample to a specialist lab. Results are sent to you within five working days. You also get tested for chlamydia, so two tests in one. If you get a positive result a phone consultation with a medical professional will be offered at additional charge.


HIV 1 & 2 antibodies plus P24 Antigen Test, pounds 74.99, from

Tests for: The presence of HIV 1 and 2 antibodies, which indicate established HIV infection, as well as P24 antigen, which detects a more recent exposure to the HIV virus.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects and gradually destroys an infected person's immune system, reducing their protection against infection and cancers. Anti-HIV drugs keep the infection under control.

Use if: You've had unprotected sex without knowing for sure that your partner was not HIV infected, or unprotected sex with someone who has had multiple partners. You're also more likely to be infected if you've had unprotected sex with someone who uses injectable drugs or shares needles.

How it works: You order the pack which comes with with a phone number to ring to arrange some blood to be taken from you locally.

During the phone call you'll be talked through the test so you understand what's involved and can give your informed consent.

Though you'll need to see a medical practitioner to have the blood test, your GP doesn't have to get involved and you don't have to visit a GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic, so it's as anonymous as it gets.

After the blood sample is sent off you are phoned or sent the results via password-protected email within five working days.


Blood Glucose Test

Recommended for the over 40s, this home blood test checks for high blood sugar levels within 90 seconds and tells you whether you may have diabetes.

Cholesterol Test

High cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease and early detection lets you make lifestyle changes such as addressing stress levels, poor diet and giving up smoking. The SELF Check blood test, pounds 9.99, gives results within three minutes.

Bowel Health Test

The SELF Check Bowel Health Test detects the presence of blood in the stool - a common sign of polyps. If detected early, these polyps can be removed before they grow into malignant tumours. You take a stool sample and get results within five minutes.

Stomach Ulcer Test

A tiny blood sample can tell you in 10 minutes if you are infected with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium which affects half the world's population and can cause stomach ulcers or gastritis, and in a few cases progresses to stomach cancer.

All of the above tests cost pounds 9.99 and are available from independent pharmacies and the first three are also available from selected Tescos stores.


JOANNE Morgan, 32, from Nottingham, runs an underwear company.

EIGHTEEN months ago, the last thing on my mind was having children. I was working on the launch of my company, as well as planning my wedding this May.

In the middle of it all I read about the Plan Ahead test which tells you how long you have left to have a baby. I was intrigued and it got me wondering - how easy would I find it to get pregnant when the time came?

Martin and I had decided to put off having kids for a couple of years until our careers settled down. But something made me send off for the test. It was really easy - I got it done through a private GP clinic near my office. I got the results two weeks later and they were a huge shock - my "ovarian reserve" was the same as a woman of 37 but I was only 31. I talked to Martin about it and we decided not to take the risk, we started trying for a baby that month. I was lucky: I got pregnant within eight weeks and my adorable baby boy, Felix, was born in January. It wasn't ideal timing, but when is it a good time to have a baby? I shudder to think what would have happened if we'd left it another 18 months. My fertility could have been like a 39-year-old's, and who knows whether we'd have ended up having problems.

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2007
Previous Article:Your LIFE: Live the dream.. by thinking like a celebrity; LIFESTYLE THE RICH AND FAMOUS ARE USED TO GETTING EVERYTHING THEIR HEARTS DESIRE - AND YOU...

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