Getting your health checked regularly is a good habit to get into and, generally speaking, women are pretty good at it.
The chances are that in the course of seeing the doctor, you will get your weight and blood pressure checked, but for other things, it may require you to be a bit more proactive.
We know it’s easy to let things lapse, or to just never get things checked at all, so we’ve compiled a quick checklist to help you.
And, remember to discuss this with your girlfriends and other female relatives.
• Let’s start with an easy one, dental checks: In an ideal world, you should’ve been having regular six monthly check-ups for as long as you’ve had teeth. But we all know how easy it is to not do this, especially if you are moving around. So if you haven’t seen a dentist lately, make it a priority to get seen soon. As with other areas of health, having healthy teeth and gums are important for your overall wellbeing.
• Eyes are things that you might not get checked until you think you may need glasses, but it’s worth going just in case – again an optometrist can tell a lot about you from examining your eyes – so don’t delay!
• Cervical smears are important for all women as is getting vaccinated against HPV (human papilloma virus) from the age of 12 – ideally the vaccine should be given before a girl becomes sexually active, and one of the vaccines helps to prevent against genital warts as well as cervical cancer. Keep going for your smears and don’t ignore your reminders. Although it is a highly treatable cancer, it is still a common cancer for women under 35 and you need to keep it on your radar.
• Breast screening is normally only done on women over 50, but is important to be ‘breast aware’ and be familiar with how your breasts look and feel, and how they change during your monthly cycle. Take any changes seriously, and see your doctor straightaway if you feel any lumps, see puckering or have discharge from your nipple. There are multitudes of innocuous conditions that can affect your breasts, but don’t leave it to chance and get checked out early.
• Sexual Health. If you are sexually active and not in a steady relationship, make your sexual health a priority and get screened for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) either by your GP or a clinic. Most of these can be treated very easily, but some can be symptomless and can affect your fertility later on.
• Check your fertility! Once you start your periods and until they stop for good, a woman is designed to be fertile and if you’re not, it can be an indication of another underlying health condition or a lifestyle habit which is impacting your well-being. Regardless of whether you are actively planning to have a baby, it is good to be aware of your cycle and your fertility and to track this as the years go by – age and lifestyle mean that our fertility will inevitably decline, but you will only know by how much if you get the tests done.