Women are recommended to have a general check-up with their GP at least once every year. Part of the check-up involves talking to your doctor about your medical history, your family’s history of disease and your lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise habits and whether or not you smoke or drink alcohol.
Seeing your doctor for regular medical check-ups will help you to stay healthy and be sure to pick up any early warning signs of disease or illness patients may have. Many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers can be picked up in their early stages, when treatment is often more effective. It is also particularly recommended to have regular check ups when you have a family history of a particular disease or illness.
Self Check at Home:
Women are definitely recommended to perform minor self health checks at home as part of a routine regularly.
Skin Checks - Monitor any moles or blemishes that may change in size, colour and texture and any unusual pains or itchiness in the area. Be sure to see your doctor if these occur.
Diet - You can improve your health by eating a very healthy and nutritious diet with a variety of foods. Patients can visit their GP for any advice on a healthy meal eating plan.
Weight - As women approach middle age, it is important to maintain a healthy weight to try and prevent any future chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes.
Alcohol - Alcohol is known to play a part in increasing chances of chronic illnesses and diseases as women approach middle age. 'Low risk' drinking is defined as no more than two standard drinks a day and at least two alcohol free days a week.
Smoking - Smoking significantly increases your risk of many diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung disease and osteoporosis. It is a great idea to quit smoking especially when approaching middle aged, so speak to your doctor about help on how to quit.
Mental and emotional health - If you are experiencing symptoms such as intense sadness/ depression, anxiety, fatigue, or have had changes in sleeping and eating patterns this is extremely important to discuss with your GP on how to manage these issues.
Cervical Screening Tests, STI Screening and Pregnancy Check-ups for Women:
Cervical Screening Test – This is an important screening test to pick up signs of irregularities that could lead to cervical cancer if not treated. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. As of December 2017, the Pap test has been replaced by the Cervical Screening Test, which detects human papillomavirus (HPV). Cervical Screening Tests are necessary if you have ever been sexually active. Your first Cervical Screening Test should be two years after your last Pap test. It is recommended that you have the test every five years until you are 74.
STI Screening – if you are under 30 years of age and sexually active, have a urine test for chlamydia each year, as chlamydia can affect your fertility and often has no symptoms. It is also recommended that you talk to your GP about checking for other sexually transmissible infections.
Pregnancy Check-up – have a general check-up before planning a pregnancy to discuss any pregnancy health risks. Once you are pregnant, regular antenatal checks help monitor your baby’s development, pick up abnormalities and assess your health. Tests include ultrasound scans, urine tests and blood tests.
Heart Health Checks for Women:
blood pressure – have your blood pressure checked every two years after the age of 18.
blood tests – check your cholesterol levels and triglycerides. High levels may indicate an increased risk of heart disease. If you’re over 45, it is recommended that you have these blood tests once every five years. If you’re at high risk of cardiovascular disease, it is recommended that you be tested every year or two
weight check – being overweight is a significant risk factor for many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement every two years.
Diabetes Health Checks for Women:
A common test for diabetes is the fasting blood sugar level test. This involves measuring the amount of glucose in your blood after you haven’t eaten for eight hours. Depending on your risk level, you will need to be tested every one to three years.
You are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes if you:
Are over 45 years old and obese (BMI over 30)
Had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy
Have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Have a family history of diabetes are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander aged over 35 years
Belong to certain ethnic groups – including Pacific Islander and Sri Lankan.
Breast Cancer Health Checks for Women:
If you notice any breast changes, be sure to visit your GP within the next week. Women aged between 50 and 74 years who have no personal or family history of breast cancer are recommended to have a screening mammogram (breast X-ray) every two years. If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, your doctor can help you to decide how often you need to be screened.
Bone density health checks for women:
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle. This happens when they lose minerals (such as calcium) more quickly than the body can replace them.
Bones become less dense, lose strength and break more easily.
A bone density test (DEXA) helps to determine the health of your bones.
Bone density testing is most often used when people have: osteoporosis or concerns about osteoporosis (such as family history) risk factors for osteoporosis – including a thin build, early menopause, long times with no periods when younger, age over 70 years, long-term use of cortisone medication spinal deformity with stooped posture previous fracture, caused by a minor trauma such as a fall from a standing height.
Immunisations for Women:
It is recommended that young women have the vaccine for the human papillomavirus before becoming sexually active. to prevent cervical cancer. Check that your childhood immunisations are up to date and whether you need any boosters such as tetanus.
It is recommended to have the flu shot if you:
are over 65 years of age
are pregnant – especially in the last trimester
have a chronic condition such as severe asthma or diabetes
are worried that you are likely to get the flu and it would impact significantly on you.
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Information provided by Better Health Channel: