Competing priorities or a lack of time stand in the way of a healthier lifestyle for many women. Often, women are too busy prioritising the health of others – children, siblings or parents – resulting in their own health being sidelined.
This Women’s Health Week, we encourage all women to put themselves first and make some time for your physical and mental health. We’ve got your to-do list ready to go, so make a cuppa, grab your phone and book your annual health checks in!
A cervical screening test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix if you are 25 to 74 years old and have ever been sexually active. Once you have had your first cervical screening test, you will only need to have a test every five years (instead of every two years as previously required with Pap smear tests) if your results are normal.
Click here to find out everything that happens during your Cervical Screening Test appointment.
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.
However, it is also important to reguarly self-examine your breast. Being breast aware is important for women of all ages. This means knowing the normal look and feel of your breasts, including the tissue above and below the breast and across into the armpit.
Make checking your breast part of your self-care routine. Keep an eye out for any of the following changes:
- Any new lumps or lumpiness
- A change in the size of your breasts, the shape or how they sit
- A difference in your nipples like crusting, an ulcer, discharge that happens without squeezing the nipple, or redness
- A newly ‘inverted’ nipple, meaning the nipple is pulled backwards into the breast
- Redness, dimpling or puckered skin on your breast
- A pain that doesn’t go away.
If you notice any changes in your breast, or if you have a family history of the disease, you need to speak with your GP. To became more breast aware, check out this blog.
Regular health checks with your GP should include a regular check of your blood pressure – routinely every two years. If you have a high reading or a family history of stroke or heart attack you should have this checked more frequently.
A cholesterol check is a great tool to assess your risk for developing heart disease or stroke. If you’re over 45 it’s advised, you to have a cholesterol blood test every five years. Knowing exactly what your cholesterol is, and how to manage it is key to staying healthy. For more information about blood cholesterol click here.
Self-examination can start early and should be a monthly habit. Regular examination by your doctor or a dermatologist should be ticked off every two years, or more often if you at increased risk for skin cancer or have a family history. See your GP if you have any suspicious moles (unusual in shape, size or colour or if they itch).
Immunisations aren’t just for kids. To provide the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccinations are needed at different times in both childhood and adulthood.
Regular flu vaccinations are important, and if you’re pregnant speak to your GP or midwife about recommended vaccinations such as whooping cough and rubella. Click here to read the breakdown of recommended vaccinations for adults at different ages and life stages.
Blood glucose tests
From the age of 45, a blood glucose test should be on your health calendar every one to three years. Depending on your risk level for type two diabetes (if you have a family history of diabetes, are obese, are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or belong to certain ethnic groups), you may need to have this test earlier and more frequently.
Our bones are hidden out of sight and out of mind, so often we don’t give them much thought. However, with nearly one in 10 people over 50 developing osteoporosis, screening is important.
Screening for osteoporosis is done with a bone density scan and woman should start getting screened from age 65, or earlier if you have other risk factors noted by your GP. For more information on osteoporosis, and if you’re at risk, click here.
Bowel and colon cancer screening
A Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), or stool sample test is used to check your poo for blood. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program recommends that women between 50 and 74 years of age have an FOBT once every two years.
If you notice any changes to your bowel habits or have any concerns don’t wait, make an appointment to see your GP.
If you have a family history of bowel cancer your GP might send you for a regular colonoscopy every two to five years.
For more information about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, or to order test kit, click here.
Mental health and wellbeing
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as getting physical exams. We all have bad days, make mistakes and can feel stressed, overwhelmed and worried. However, if you notice these feelings increase, or if you’re not feeling like your normal self, it’s time to seek support.
- Blog: How to look after your mental wellbeing in a crisis
- Beyond Blue has a dedicated team of counsellors available 24/7 to speak with you over the phone, via online chat or email - visit www.beyondblue.com.au
- Discover the building blocks to a better you by visiting https://mentalwellbeing.initiatives.qld.gov.au/
In a medical emergency, call 000. If you’re concerned, speak with your GP.
Appointments now available for mobile women’s health clinics
Our mobile women’s health clinic nurses offer confidential services to all women including:
- Cervical screening tests
- Breast awareness
- Sexual health testing.
They can also offer advice on issues such as:
- Family planning
- General wellbeing.
To make an appointment or to find out when a clinic is visiting your area, visit our website: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/darlingdowns/our-services/womens-health-clinics