Women's Health Week runs from 5 to 11 September 2022 and is centred on improving women's health, helping women nationwide to make healthier choices.
According to Jean Hailes, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners conducted a survey asking their members to nominate the most common reason women currently see their GPs. 65% was for mental health support, 21% was for COVID-19 vaccination, 8% was for health screenings and preventative care and 4% was for alcohol and other drugs.
Considering only 8% of women are seeing their GPs for health screenings, it's extremely important that more women are aware of what health checks they should get, in order to prevent any diseases or long term health complications. Throughout the years, as you age, different health checks and routine screenings will be done more regularly or new ones may be started. We've provided a list of vital health checks that you should be getting throughout your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
In your 20s
The 20s can be a decade of exploration and fun, and while health might not be on the top of everyone's priority list, there are certain things which should be considered. Cervical screenings are usually completed every five years for women between the ages of 25 and 74 years, if the results are normal.
Cervical screenings are very important in detecting cancer early and preventing it, and can also detect HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually transmissible disease (STD) that is responsible for causing genital warts, as well as cervical and anal cancers.
Make sure to get a sexual health check annually or every time you have a new sexual partner so you can protect yourself from any sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and STDs.
If you are deciding to start a family, pregnancy health may be a high priority for you. Consult your doctor to see what the best course of action is for you to keep your health in top shape prior to, and whilst being pregnant.
In your 30s
In your 30s you might have decided to start a family or are in the midst of an exciting career. With so many commitments and so little time, it's important to prioritise your health and wellbeing. This includes making sure you're aware of any changes within your body and schedule in regular check ups.
Some things you can do include:
Regular breast checks on your own or by a health professional. This can help detect and prevent breast cancer early. Check every month for any changes, such as rashes, lumps or pain.
Cervical screening test every five years as mentioned previously.
Skin cancer checks regularly. Currently, there are no set guidelines for how often people should get their skin checked. The Cancer Council recommends that you regularly monitor your skin, and visit a doctor if noticing any changes or new suspicious spots. If needed, a doctor can refer you to a specialist.
Baseline health checks from a doctor every two years are also recommended. This is to check your blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol.
Pregnancy health should be a priority if you are thinking of starting a family. By talking to your doctor, you can discuss appropriate vaccinations, what to avoid, getting regular exercise, and healthy diet options.
In your 40s and 50s
As midlife approaches, you can become more susceptible to cancer, and so it's extremely important to catch it early. Breast screenings are vital in helping to detect breast cancer early. BreastScreen Australia targets women aged 50 to 74, although women aged 40 to 49 and 75 years and older are also able to be screened. Screenings usually happen every two years from the age of 50.
Bowel screening is another important one to add to your list, with screenings recommended every two years from the age of 50. Along with cervical screenings, skin checks and blood sugar tests, you should also get regular cardiovascular screenings done, which consists of two-yearly blood pressure tests and five-yearly cholesterol tests.
In your 60s and beyond
You should be well versed on all of the regular check-ups and tests over the years and your health should be top priority. So along with breast and bowel screenings, skin checks, cardiovascular screenings and cervical screenings until the age of 74, there's a couple more that need to be added to the list.
As you age, your bones lose density which can lead to conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Things that can help prevent weakened bones include eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, and regular weight-bearing exercise such as weight training, walking, hiking, jogging and dancing. If this is something you are concerned about, you can discuss options with your doctor.
Equally important is your brain health and keeping physically, mentally and socially active. Not only can this reduce the risk of dementia, but it can also help with a positive lifestyle.
Links to more information about screenings and health checks:
For information about the Cervical Screening Test, go to the National Cervical Screening Program.
For more information about Breast Screening, visit BreastScreen Australia.
For more information on skin checks, visit Cancer Council Australia.
For more information regarding screening for bowel cancer visit the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program website.
You can get involved this Women's Health Week by hosting an event or sharing health information to others so they can become more aware of their wellbeing.
Chat to your GP if you have any questions or need to book in check-ups. You can contact someone at Sonder, who will also be able to provide you with more information.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.