New year, new you? Maybe. But we happen to think you’re pretty great just as you are! However, we DO think it’s really important to start the new year right by taking stock of your health. From top to toe and down below, here are 5 essential health checks every woman should have in the new year. How many have you booked in?
- Breast Check
If you’re not regularly inspecting your lovely lady lumps, you should be! Being breast aware is a crucial first step in the early detection of breast cancer, which kills 8 women every single day in Australia.
Try to examine your breasts once a month, at around the same time, as hormonal fluctuations can cause changes. If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your GP to walk you through the steps. Do not hesitate to see your doctor if you notice any changes, as she’ll be able to refer you to a breast screening clinic for a mammogram/ ultrasound if necessary.
Once you hit the big 4-0, you’re entitled to a free mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Australia. However, early detection is crucial, so if your boobs are more casual acquaintances than bosom buddies, start getting to know them. Stat.
2. Cervical Screening Test
If there are two little words sure to make a lady clench involuntarily, they’re Pap and smear. Thankfully, they’re words we’ll be hearing less of as the 2-yearly Pap test has now been replaced nationally with the 5-yearly Cervical Screening Test.
Available for women aged 25 to 74, the updated screening detects human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can cause changes in the cells of the cervix. The new test is expected to protect many more women from cervical cancer each year.
As for the process itself? Well, I’m afraid to say it’s going to feel like a regular old smear with old mate speculum still in the thick of it. Mildly uncomfortable it may be, but it’s over in a flash, and it will buy you that invaluable peace of mind. So, don’t delay screening, if you’re due! (You’ll still need one in 2018 if you had your last Pap smear in 2016, but from then on it will be every 5 years.)
3. Skin Cancer Check
We live in a sunburnt country, so it’s important that all Aussies, male and female, keep a close eye on their skin and moles for early signs of cancer, and deadly melanoma. In addition to conducting regular self-checks (noting things like changes in colour, shape, texture, and borders of moles), the Melanoma Institute Australia recommends a yearly skin cancer screening with a professional. These checks can be conducted by your GP, a skin cancer clinic, or dermatologist.
Got an intimate itch you can’t stop scratching? A discharge that’s gone from mildly annoying to downright debilitating? A period that’s morphed from mere trickle to tidal wave? Get thee to the gyno!
It’s time we stop being embarrassed by our bodily functions, ladies! Because, whatever you’re experiencing in the downstairs department, you can bet your last dollar that you’re not the only one. So never be afraid to ask, ‘is this normal?’ Chances are, it is. And if it’s not, you are in the capable hands of a professional who can give you top notch advice, and any necessary treatment. ( In the meantime, Modibodi undies will support you down there, wink)
5. Bone Density
If you are over 50, or if you are younger but have risk factors for osteoporosis – a common disease that results in brittle bones, prone to breakage – talk to your GP about having a bone density test. The test is a simple and painless way to find out the state of dem bones. And the sooner you address the loss of density, the better the outcome!
Are there any other tests you recommend every woman should do each year?