Health Lifestyle Wellness

The General Health Checks Women Should Be Having At Every Age

We asked Dr Emma Rees, a GP Specialist with additional qualifications in women’s health and founder of digital healthcare solution, Femma for her tips on what health checks we should be having at every age.

Regular health checks assist in the early detection of disease or illness and are an important part of staying well. The health checks recommended here relate to your age and stage of life.

It’s important to stress that if you have any symptoms that you are concerned about, don’t ask for screening tests, see a doctor to discuss your symptoms and have a full assessment.

Health checks for women aged 18-39

Sexual health screening

Sexually transmissible infection (STI) check for sexually active women who would like to be screened or feel they have a need to be, for example those who have changed partners or have been exposed to STIs.

Cervical cancer screening

Women are invited from age 25 and have their last screening over the age of 70. The test screens for human papilloma virus and if present, the particular version infecting the cells will be identified. This will then help to determine whether an individual needs immediate assessment or review after 12 months. If HPV isn’t found a
review screening test will be scheduled for 5 years time.

Skin Check

Monitor your skin, particularly for changes in the size, shape or colour of spots, or anything unusual such as pain or sensation. If you have any new or concerning symptoms see a doctor to discuss it. Consider having an annual skin check, particularly if you are fair, sunburn easily, have plenty of moles or a family history of melanoma.

Breast Examination

The age to start examining your breasts has been controversial over the years. I feel the earlier you start doing this the better because you get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts. If anything changes in terms of shape, appearance,
size or pain you can see a doctor who can examine you and arrange any investigations they
consider necessary.

Blood pressure check

Every 3-5 years after you turn 18, more frequently if you are on medications such as the pill.

Health checks for women aged 40-49

All of the above health checks are important plus include:

Breast Cancer Screening

If you are between the ages of 40-49 you can ask for free breast screening but you won’t receive an automatic invite into the programme. It’s important
to stress that if you have any symptoms that you are concerned about, don’t ask for screening, see a doctor for a full assessment.

Bone Health Discussion

Talk to your doctor about your risk of osteoporosis (bone thinning) and ways to maintain strong bones including resistance exercise. This may not
seem hugely relevant but as you transition through menopause bone density reduces. Understanding how to promote bone density during peri-menopause is incredibly important to help reduce long term fracture risk.

Blood pressure check

Over the age of 40 the frequency of blood pressure checks will depend upon your family history of cardiac disease and any other health concerns you have. I usually recommend all women consider a cardiac health check at the age of 45 to allow a
baseline for subsequent health monitoring – an early to mid term check!

Diabetes and cholesterol check

Once again this will depend upon personal and family history but if it hasn’t been done before I recommend tests around the age of 45 as part of
the early to mid term health check.

Weight check

Everybody (myself included) is fearful of the weight check. It is important to understand that this can be a window to other health concerns such as hypothyroidism and also provides us with some insight into risks of other conditions. Metabolism slows down as we progress through menopause and adjustments to lifestyle can be key to
minimising the long term impacts of this transition.

Health checks for women aged 50-70 and beyond

STI Checks, Skin Checks and Cervical Screening as above plus include:

Breast Cancer Screening

You will receive an invite every 2 years if you are between 50- 74 years old. Women over the age of 74 can request a mammogram but won’t be
automatically invited to the programme.

Bone Health Screening

Women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis after menopause. If you are at higher risk, your doctor may suggest a bone density scan (DXA) to
assess your bone density and advise on treatment. Resistance exercise can help to maintain bone density.

Bowel cancer screening

Between 50 and 74, you will receive invites every 2 years. This programme is fantastic for identifying people with blood in their stools who can then go on to have a colonoscopy to assess for cancer. It is unpleasant because you self-collect a stool
sample, but it’s incredibly worthwhile.

Blood pressure check

This will depend on your risk but once you have turned 50 cardiovascular risks increase and many doctors will check blood pressure every year.

Diabetes check

Once again, individuals have different risks, but we know diabetes becomes more likely as we age and often you will be offered an annual blood test to check.

Cholesterol check

Cholesterol will usually be assessed as part of a cardiovascular assessment.

As the old saying goes, prevention is far better than cure so keep up to date with your regular health checks and keep on top of your physical health.

Want more? Click here for How to Age Without Pain and here for How to Keep Healthy Eating on Track.

To se more about Femma visit here.

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