For a woman, each life stage comes with a different challenge, from puberty to menopause, and with those challenges come a certain responsibly to look after our bodies’ long-term health.
What you can do without a doctor
From the age of 18, you can start checking your skin for suspicious moles or colour changes. This is especially important for fair-skinned females, and early detection can go a long way in keeping you safe from melanomas and other types of skin cancer.
From your teens onwards, you can also give yourself a monthly breast self-exam, thoroughly checking for any abnormalities, lumps or hard lesions. Like with skin cancer, early detection of breast cancer can stop it from spreading and make a huge difference in treatment.
Screenings you will need for the rest of your life:
A general hearing test from childhood every 10 years. After age 60, a hearing test every year can make a big difference to your quality of life.
An annual trip to the dentist from an early age can help protect your teeth long into life.
Regular eye tests might seem like a hassle, but having your eyes tested can keep things like headaches at bay, as well as detecting any early issues such as cataracts.
Have your body mass index (BMI) tested as a baseline every couple of years, ensuring that you have an accurate representation of your body’s health and fitness.
Cholesterol is known as the silent killer, so a test every four to six years lets you know how your heart is doing as you grow older and what steps you can take to lower it.
What can you do in your teens, 20s and 30s?
From the age of 21, a pap smear and HPV screening is necessary every three years. Your doctor should also do a full pelvic exam.
Once sexually active, regular STI testing is a must. Take advantage of free HIV testing at schools, clinics and universities near you.
What can you do from 40 onwards?
From the age of 40, a regular full-skin examination at the dermatologist is recommended. This might be required earlier in life, depending on how fair your skin is.
A colonoscopy at around the age of 45 to check for any early signs of bowel or colon cancer, as well as any lesions. If your family has a history of colon or bowel cancer, you should speak to your doctor and start these checks sooner in life.
From the age of 45, an annual mammogram is highly recommended, and after the age of 55, switch it to twice a year. If your family has any history of breast cancer, you should speak to your doctor and start checks sooner.
Diabetes becomes ever more dangerous the older you get, and having a glucose check every three years after 45 is imperative. Ethnicity and obesity can play a factor in diabetes, meaning that early checks could be required.
Speak to your GP at any stage about diabetes, just to be sure that you’re not at risk.
As we get older, our bones start becoming weaker which leads to a loss in bone density. So having it checked after the age of 50 is encouraged.
After 65, a full osteoporosis screening is recommended, especially if there is a history of it in the family or you suffer from psoriasis.
If you were a heavy smoker at one point in your life, a full lung cancer screening is encouraged around the age of 55.
Health screenings are important at almost every stage of your life. Check with your health provider to see what screenings are covered.
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https://consumer.healthday.com; https://www.everydayhealth.com; https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007467.htm; https://www.mayoclinic.org; http://www.kznhealth.gov.za; https://www.psoriasis.org