Regular health check-ups are vital for every woman, regardless of age, to help identify early signs of diseases or illnesses and ensure you stay on top of your health. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, it is recommended you schedule a health check-up once a year.
However, the type of health check-up differs according to age and lifestyle. Here are some of the health checks women should be aware of.
General health checks
Many diseases and illnesses take a long time to develop, so frequent health check-ups can help detect early warning symptoms and treat them immediately. A general practitioner (GP) will assess your current state of health during a general health check-up. The GP can also:
- Check for current health issues.
- Assess your risk of developing issues in the future.
- Assess your lifestyle.
- Check if you need any vaccinations.
- Offer suggestions to reduce your risk of developing an illness or disease.
Breast cancer checks
Breast cancer checks are one of the most important health checks every woman should undergo regularly as early detection of breast cancer provides you with the best chance of survival.
It is recommended that you check your breasts monthly and schedule a mammogram every two years if you are between the ages of 50 and 74. If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, you should ask your doctor how often you need to get a breast check.
Cervical screening tests
If you are a woman between the ages of 25 and 74 and have been sexually active, you should have a cervical screening test every five years until age 74. This type of cancer is one of the most preventable cancers; hence, scheduling regular cervical screening is your best option for protecting yourself from cervical cancer.
Done via a pap smear, the cervical screening test is done to specifically detect human papillomavirus (HPV) – a common virus that can change cells in your cervix. Even if you have been vaccinated against HPV, it is important to test as the vaccine – though highly effective – does not prevent all HPV infections.
A recent study found that over half a million Australian women have one or more heart, stroke, and vascular diseases and that almost one-third of women’s deaths are due to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
This is why it is important to get your heart health checked at least once every two years once you are over 45 years old, or over 30 if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. During the check-up, your GP will question you about your lifestyle and family history, and check your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Diabetes causes the glucose (sugar) in your blood to increase dangerously. It is a serious condition that can affect other parts of your body and lead to serious complications if not managed.
Depending on your risk level, you may need to get a fasting blood sugar test for diabetes every one to three years. If you feel like you might have diabetes, you can speak to your GP about getting a diabetes check.
Bowel cancer checks
From the age of 50 to 74 years old, women should undergo a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) – to test for blood in their faeces, which may be a sign of bowel cancer – every two years. 99% of early detection of bowel cancer can be treated successfully.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will send a free and simple bowel cancer screening test to women in this age group. Once you have tested, you should post the samples for testing and you receive your result within two weeks. If your result is positive, you may need to do a colonoscopy.
Sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings
If you are sexually active and have unprotected sex, it is recommended that you test for STI every six to twelve months – even if you do not have any symptoms.
Skin cancer is one of the most common diseases in Australia; hence, it is recommended that you check your skin for any changes every three months. If you notice anything different or concerning, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. You can also choose to go to a skin cancer clinic to have a skin check.
Bone density checks
Osteoporosis – or bone thinning is a common problem for women over 70 years old. Menopause can also increase your risk of osteoporosis. If you have stooped posture or a family history of osteoporosis, you should speak to your doctor about getting a bone density scan (DXA).
Vision and hearing checks
If diagnosed early, 90% of all blindness and visual impairments can be prevented or treated. If you notice any changes to your vision, you should schedule a test immediately. On the other hand, women who don’t wear prescription glasses or contact lenses should have their eyes tested every two to three years. If you are over 60 years old, you should have them tested annually as eyesight deteriorates with age.
Meanwhile, if you are often exposed to loud noises, feel a ringing sensation in your ears, or struggle to hear conversations, you have your hearing checked regularly. Similar to eyesight, women over the age of 65 have to check their hearing yearly as it deteriorates with age.
You should see a dentist for a check-up every six to twelve months. Depending on the condition of your teeth, your dentist may recommend more regular check-ups.
Other health tests for women
Everyone is different and you may require other regular tests that have not been listed here such as a pre-pregnancy check or mental health check. No matter the concern, do not hesitate to ask your GP about it at your next appointment.
At Coolaroo Clinic, our team of medical professionals are experienced in a wide variety of medical services and is always happy to address any questions you may have regarding health check-ups. Book an appointment with one of our GPs today!