Check me out – the health checks you should get (and when)

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Have you ever found yourself looking at the calendar and needing to remember your last health check?

We all know the last few years have been tough, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are several important health checks to keep in mind no matter where you are in life.

This Women’s Health Week (September 5-11), Women’s Health Matters is sharing all the health checks you may be late with (or just need a cheeky reminder).

Any age

skin controls

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma in the world. Anyone can get skin cancer and it’s important to do regular self-checks using the ABCDE method and see your GP if you notice any changes.

breast exams

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and it is important for women of all ages to be aware of their breasts. Do self-tests every month, learn how your breasts normally look and feel, and see your GP if you think something is wrong.

It is recommended that you have a mammogram every two years between the ages of 50 and 74, however you can get a free mammogram from the age of 40 if you are at higher risk.

cervical cancer screening

The cervical screening test now replaces the Pap smear and is required if you have ever been sexually active and are over the age of 25. Have your first cervical screening test two years after your last Pap test, and then every five years until age 74. In some situations, based on the results of your cervical exam, your GP may recommend more frequent exams and follow-up visits.

Some may find the test invasive, so you can also opt for a self-administered cervical cancer screening test under the supervision of a nurse or doctor.

blood pressure checks

From the age of 18 you should have your blood pressure checked every one to two years, and more frequently if you have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or heart disease. You can visit your GP or pharmacy to get access to a blood pressure monitor.

Screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you’re sexually active, it’s important to talk to a doctor about how often you need to be checked for STIs. There are several locations within the ACT where you can access these sexual health screening services. Check out the Women’s Health Matters page on STDs.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Check

Regardless of your age, it is important to take care of your mental health and well-being. If you have symptoms such as severe sadness, irritability, tiredness, anxiety, or have changed your eating or sleeping habits, contact your GP as early as possible to discuss these symptoms. Consider making an extended appointment with your GP to talk about your mental health and well-being.

pre-pregnancy care

It is important to check with your GP if you are planning or considering becoming pregnant in the future. They can help you review your egg supplies and discuss options related to fertility and pregnancy planning. Once you are pregnant, it is important to have regular check-ups with your pharmacist, family doctor and obstetrician to monitor the health and development of you and your baby. Having a baby in Canberra can help you navigate all stages of your pregnancy.

Age 45+

cholesterol check

From the age of 45, cholesterol control is important. Depending on family history and risk factors for cardiovascular or heart disease, you may need to have this test earlier or more frequently. Talk to your family doctor if you are not sure.

heart health check

From the age of 45 you should have a heart health check carried out by your family doctor at least every two years. These health checks can detect problems with your heart health, and about a fifth of people between the ages of 45 and 74 are at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.

Keeping your heart healthy, regardless of your age, is the most important thing you can do to prevent and treat heart disease.

Women don’t always feel pain in the middle of their chest when they have a heart attack, and it’s harder to spot a heart attack. Therefore, it is important to know how symptoms can differ in women.

Intestinal screening test

Colorectal cancer screening tests are available free of charge for children between the ages of 50 and 74 and are performed by you at home using an easy-to-use stool occult blood test. Colorectal cancer is the most common type of cancer in Australia and if caught early it is treatable. Check out the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Program to learn more.

Bone health check (fracture risk).

From the age of 45 or after the menopause, you should have a bone health examination once a year. There are several factors that can increase your risk of osteoporosis (fragile bones) and it is important to have regular appointments with your GP.

It is important to have a GP you can trust. Your GP is your first port of call when considering what health checks you might need.

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