General Health for Women
General Health for Women
From periods and babies to rolled ankles and girl logic, the way a woman’s body works is an incredibly confusing miracle. As the lovely comedian, Iliza Shlesinger stated, ‘we’re like a contradiction wrapped in a bow’. She’s not wrong guys.
Though there has been a taboo around talking about women’s bodies for years, it is something we need to discuss. Therefore, keeping to the theme of Monday’s post, today I’m outlining SPECIFIC things that women – young and old – need to do to maintain their general, overall health.
You don’t have to go to a doctor to make sure you’re healthy
Self-checking is GOOD and ENCOURAGED. You’re already examining yourself in the mirror (is that a pimple? POP IT), so what’s the harm in adding a few extra steps in?
- Check your skin regularly. Monitor freckles, moles and skin blemishes for changes in size, shape or colour or anything unusual such as pain or itch.
- Take care of your teeth. Brushing, flossing and reducing your sugar intake can reduce your rish of tooth decay, gum disease and holes. You also need to see a dentist once a year. Once. A Year. Not every three years guys.
- Turns out eating healthy does more than help you fit into your jeans. Eating nutritionally valuable foods is (gasp) good for you. You also need to be having regular meals.
- On that note, you need to also manage your weight. Poor weight management (hello freshman 15) can lead to long-term chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes. And if you found my blog, I would suspect you already have enough of those.
- Unfortunately, you gotta reduce your alcohol too. You want to stay in the ‘low risk’ drinking category. That means no more than two standard drinks on any day and at least two alcohol-free days per week. Whoops.
- Like I said earlier, stop smoking. This bad habit increases your risk of many diseases including heart disease, stroke, lung disease and osteoporosis (loss of bone strength). Just…quit. Please.
- Exercise is surprisingly good for you. Regular exercise can prevent diseases developing, as well as being good for your emotional health. At least 2.5 hours of exercise per week is recommended.
- Keep an eye on your mental and emotional health – If you are experiencing symptoms such as intense sadness, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, or have had changes to your eating or sleeping habits, see your doctor to discuss these symptoms. There’s a ‘check in’ printable in our resource library for this reason.
Tests You Should Be Taking
Remember how I said that ‘as long as I got regular checkups, I’d be fine’? This is what I was talking about. This information is entirely to the credit of the Better Health Channel, as I found their information on this was way better than anything I could give you. I’ve put links to the direct articles in, so you can explore more on their website if you would like to.
Health checks from your doctor can include:
- Pap tests – you should have a Pap test every two years if you are sexually active. This is an important screening test to pick up signs of irregularities that could lead to cervical cancer if not treated.Your first Pap test should be within two years of the first time you have sex, once over the age of 20. You should continue to have them every two years until you are 70.• STI screening – if you are under 30 years of age and sexually active, have a urine test for chlamydia each year, as chlamydia can affect your fertility and often has no symptoms.If you have sex with one or more new partners without a condom, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about checking for other sexually transmissible infections
• Pregnancy check-up – you should have a general check-up before planning a pregnancy to discuss any health risks during pregnancy. Once you are pregnant, regular antenatal checks help monitor your baby’s development, pick up abnormalities and assess your health. Tests include ultrasound scans, urine tests and blood tests.
You also need to check up on your heart health regularly
Health checks for heart disease may include:
- blood pressure – have your blood checked every two years after the age of 18.
- blood tests – check your cholesterol levels and triglycerides. High levels may indicate an increased risk of heart disease. If you’re over 45, you should have these blood tests once every five years.
- weight check – being overweight is a significant risk factor for many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement every two years.
It’s good to get diabetes checkups too
A common test for diabetes is the fasting blood sugar level test. This involves measuring the amount of glucose in the blood after you haven’t eaten for eight hours.
You are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes if you:
- are over 45 years old and obese (BMI over 30
- have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- have a family history of diabetes
Of course, then there are boobs.
Women of any age should visit the doctor within a week or so if they notice any breast changes. Women aged between 50 and 74 years who have no personal or family history of breast cancer should have a screening mammogram (breast x-ray) every two years.
If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, your doctor can help you to decide how often you need to be screened.
Gotta keep your eyes healthy too
Eyesight tends to deteriorate with age, and therefore it is recommended that all women have an eye health check for glaucoma by the age of 40.
- Women at increased risk of glaucoma include those:
- with a strong family history of glaucoma
- of African, Asian and Caucasian descent.
- Women at higher risk of glaucoma include those aged 50 and over with:
- prior eye injury
- high blood pressure
- long-term steroid use
- migraine and peripheral vasospasm.
It is also recommended that:
- women aged between 50 and 65 have a general eye examination every two years
- women aged over 65 have an eye examination once a year.
Bone density health checks for women
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle, often found in menopausal women. A bone density test (DEXA) helps to determine the health of your bones.
Bone density testing is most often used when people have:
- osteoporosis or concerns about osteoporosis (such as family history)
- risk factors for osteoporosis – including a thin build, early menopause, long times with no periods when younger, age over 70 years, long-term use of cortisone medication
- a previous fracture, not caused by a fall or major trauma.
Immunisation for women
Young women should have the vaccine for the HPV virus before becoming sexually active. Luckily for us, it’s part of the bundle of vaccines we get when we’re young. Talk to your doctor about checking your childhood immunisations, as some need booster.
It is recommended that you have a flu vaccination if you:
- are over 65 years of age
- are pregnant – especially in the last trimester, because your baby will also be protected
- have a chronic condition such as severe asthma or diabetes
- are worried that you are likely to get the flu and it would impact significantly on you.
Again, thank you to the Better Health Channel and Google Scholar for providing me with the basis for this information.