Devices for Home Evaluation of Women's Health Concerns

Kelly L. Scolaro; Kimberly Braxton Lloyd; Kristen L. Helms

Disclosures

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2008;65(4):299-314. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Purpose: Devices used for home evaluation of fertility, pregnancy, menopause, colon cancer, breast cancer, and urinary-tract and vaginal yeast infections are discussed.
Summary: Ovulation-prediction devices monitor natural changes in a woman's body during the menstrual cycle, including changes in basal body temperature, urinary luteinizing hormone, and urinary estrone-3-glucuronide concentrations. Also available are devices that identify changes in the content of sodium chloride and other electrolytes in saliva and cervical–vaginal mucus. Home pregnancy tests are designed to detect human chorionic gonadotropin in the urine. Both urine and saliva tests are available for home evaluation of menopause; the most common devices use urine to measure follicle-stimulating hormone. The saliva tests measure estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone. Devices for home screening for colon cancer use either the guaiac test or the fecal immunochemical test. For aid in breast self-examination, patients may use a simulated-breast product designed to train them to detect lumps or a thin, silicone-containing pad intended to increase the sensitivity of the fingers to abnormalities. Urine-dipstick tests can be used to screen for urinary-tract infection, and a swab or panty liner can be used to detect vaginal pH changes indicative of vaginal yeast infection. Home-based tests may be convenient and economical but also have limitations; pharmacists can help educate patients and clinicians.
Conclusion: Many devices are available to help evaluate women's health concerns at home.

Today's patients are better educated and more health conscious than those of previous generations.[1,2] In their quest for health, patients frequent health fairs and community screening events, use the Internet to research various diseases and conditions, and purchase a variety of self-testing devices.[1] Frequently, patients seek methods for disease prevention and have a high interest in minimizing risk factors for chronic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and cancer. Early detection of diseases and conditions has become a primary focus of patients and health care providers. The home-testing market is booming.[3] This billion-dollar industry is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 6.7% per year through 2008. Soaring health care costs, decentralization of health care, technological advances, and patient demand for education and empowerment have contributed to the fast growth in this market. Patients frequently seek advice from pharmacists to help them decide whether home testing is appropriate and, if so, what tests to use.

This article discusses devices that are used in the home setting to evaluate women's health concerns, specifically fertility, pregnancy, menopause, colon cancer, breast cancer, and urinary-tract and vaginal yeast infections. The article explores the role these devices play in patient-centered care, the advantages and disadvantages of the devices, and how pharmacists can assist patients in proper device selection and use. The manufacturers of devices mentioned in this article are listed in the appendix.

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