Take Care of Yourself- Schedule Regular Health Check-Ups

It goes without saying that our physical health is a key component of our overall wellbeing. Without our physical health, everything else just falls away. I am reminded of this from time to time when I rarely do get sick. You kind of take health for granted until you get sick or injured and are reminded of how vital our physical health is to EVERY aspect of our lives- big and small.  

We all know the importance of maintaining our health with regular check-ups, but how often does a couple of years pass before you realise you haven’t had that eye test, or been to the dentist for a check and clean?

Committing to scheduling regular health checks means that there is a greater chance of identifying any health issues early, and they’re more likely to be picked up by the trained eye than if you were to rely on discovering them yourself. Early identification of health issues also means there is a greater chance of successful treatment.

I put together a list of key check-ups every woman should be having on a regular basis, and checked how often we should aim to have them done. 

Below is a table outlining what check-ups are encouraged in order to maintain our optimal physical health (if you are generally healthy and have no specific health concerns that need to be monitored accordingly), alongside the recommended frequency to have them.

Type of check-up Frequency
General health check with your GP (Discuss you & your family’s medical history, your lifestyle choices, and concerns or questions you have- particularly if you have a family history of a particular disease or illness- like diabetes, heart disease or any type of cancer. Any concerns relating to your emotional or mental health should also be discussed).

Ask for a general physical exam, including;

– BMI checkHearing test
– Skin check
– blood pressure check
– blood test (to pick up any warning signs of things your GP feels apply to you, like high cholesterol, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, issues with allergies or intolerances, hormone levels and blood sugar levels).
Once a year
Cervical Screening Tests

All women aged 25-74 years should have the Cervical Screening Test.  

From December 2017, the Pap Test (usually done every 2 years) has been replaced with the Cervical Screening Test (done every 5 years).
Your first Cervical Screening Test should be 2 years after your last Pap Test.

Following this, you will only need to have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years (if your results are normal) until the age of 74[1].
Breast Check Generally, women aged between 50-74 who have no prior history or family history of breast cancer should have a mammogram every 2 years[2].  

If you have a prior history or family history of breast cancer, it is best to discuss with your GP how often you should be screened.
Eye Test If you have no sight concerns, see an optometrist every 2 years[3].
Hearing Test The frequency of tests will vary depending on your age and condition.

All adults should have routine hearing tests throughout their life. It is best to book in for a hearing test, and based on these results the practitioner can advise you how often you should repeat testing.  
Dental Clean and Check-Up Every 6-12 months depending on your individual needs.

Talk to your dentist about how often you should be getting your teeth cleaned and checked[4].
Skin Check You should be in the habit of monitoring your own skin, spots and moles for any changes to size, shape or colour every 3 months.

If you do notice any changes, see your GP straight away[5].

Everyone should also have regular skin checks done by their GP, dermatologist or skin clinic once a year[6].  
Emotional and Mental Health

Sometimes it’s good to have a general check of where we are at emotionally and mentally.

If you think you would benefit from talking it out or workshopping any particular issues you’re having that could affect your wellbeing, seek professional support sooner rather than later. Try not to let yourself get to the point of overwhelm or breaking point before you seek support. If you are definitely experiencing emotional or mental health issues, please reach out to someone you trust as a starting point. If you have a family member or friend you are comfortable talking to, start with them. Or, reach out to your GP or a service like Lifeline 13 11 14.
As required. Some people even find talking to a counsellor or psychologist at regular intervals every year helpful, regardless of whether they have burning issues to discuss or not.

Sometimes even if life feels like its balanced and tracking well, it’s good to take some dedicated time out to actually sit down and focus on you and your life, and think about where to from here with the guidance of a professional, who can be subjective and ask thought provoking questions.

Some helpful supports can be;  

– Your GP (as a starting point for referral if required)
– Counsellor
– Psychologist
– Lifeline 13 11 14  

I encourage you to take a look at this list and think about the areas your physical health may be lacking (or it’s simply been awhile since you’ve paid them attention), and book appointments to have these checked. Once you’ve made that initial appointment, put a reminder in your phone for the typical frequency of that check-up, so you’ll be reminded of when it’s time to have this checked again down the track. 

The above list is a basic list of considerations for a generally healthy woman with no particular personal prior history or family history concerns. There will be additional tests and check-ups for consideration if you fall into the category of having prior history concerns, and these should be discussed with your doctor.

It’s also important to note that if you have concerns about anything to do with your physical or emotional health, it’s important not to wait to have it checked, even if it is outside of the recommended timeframes for regular check ups. If you are concerned about your vision, but you just had an eye test 6 months ago, it doesn’t mean you should wait another year and a half to have your eyes tested again. Even when we have regular check ups, things can come on quite quickly, so it is better to get it checked and dealt with as soon as possible rather than wait it out until your next routine check up.

Depending on the stage of life you are at, other check-ups may also be worth considering too. For example, a pre-pregnancy check-up with your GP is a good idea if you are thinking about trying to conceive, or STI screenings are encouraged if you are sexually active and under 30 years of age. It is a good idea to talk about your own circumstances with your GP to get an idea of how you can best look after your health and maintain your wellbeing.

It may seem like another thing to add to your already stretched to-do list, but it’s well worth it for both peace of mind, and for prevention and early intervention of something that could be so much more impactful for your health & quality of life down the line. Invest in yourself and your health.

I find it handy to have the above chart printed out at home, as a reminder of what needs to be checked and when.

If there’s something you think should be added to the check-up list, please comment below.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and the above information is a basic list of check-ups to consider in order to optimise your health and maintain your general wellbeing. Always seek professional advice from your GP regarding your own individual needs and circumstances.

[1] Cancer.org.au

[2] Cancer.org.au

[3] Specsavers.com.au

[4] ada.org.au

[5] Cancer.org.au

[6] https://www.skincancercentres.com.au

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