By now, we all know the importance of getting a check-up from the Doc once in a while. But we’re all still guilty of putting it off or forgetting to book in. And that’s because, well, life. Life gets in the way. There’s always something more important going on.
Well, this is your wake-up call. There’s nothing more important than your physical and mental health. And yearly check-ups ensure everything keeps ticking along as it should. But where to start? Here are the top annual check-ups every woman should schedule today.
1. General Check Up
Even the healthiest people in the world should get a general check-up from their doctor. They can do blood tests, blood pressure checks, cholesterol reviews, and more. Because they have a good general knowledge of medicine, they can help you figure out a multitude of issues. Plus, it’s a much better place to get answers than Google.
Past getting a general check-up, your doctor can refer you to a specialist if you need it. This is especially important when it comes to your mental health. Sometimes you don’t know who to turn to. So you can go to your doctor, tell them how you’re feeling, and they can ensure you get the help you need. Remember, there’s always someone there to help. No matter what you’re going through.
2. Eyes And Teeth
The most underrated check-ins of all. Visits to the dentist and optician are some of the most important you can have each year. But for many of us, these check-ups, especially the dentist, are filled with fear and worry. So let’s get ahead of it.
Take the control back into your own hands. Do some research and find practitioners that you like the sound of. Then go in for a consultation. You don’t have to commit to coming back for further appointments. But it does give you a chance to speak to the practitioners and see if it’s a good fit for you. And if you hate talking on the phone, book eye exam online. Thanks to the modern digital age, it’s that easy.
Now this check-up isn’t to be done annually. But the importance of it makes it a worthwhile mention. Mammograms are essential for detecting breast cancer early, the most common cancer in women worldwide. And they’re really straightforward. They work using low-dose X-rays that create detailed images of breast tissue.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer at very early stages. A lot of times, even before symptoms have presented themselves. And catching cancer early improves your chances and makes the treatments available more effective. In Canada, you’re recommended to get a screening every 2 to 3 years between the ages of 50 and 74. If you have a family history of breast cancer, sit down with your family doctor to discuss whether this needs adjusting to fit your personal situation.
To prepare for your upcoming appointment, follow these simple tips:
- Schedule for a week after your period ends so your breasts aren’t tender.
- Don’t put on any deodorant, perfume, lotion, or powder products, as they can interfere with the imaging.
- Wear comfortable, easy-to-remove clothing.
- Had a mammogram before? Bring your past results with you.
- Let the technologist know if you’re breastfeeding, pregnant, or have breast implants.
4. Pap Smears
The Pap smear. Every woman’s least favourite check-up. And, thankfully, another that doesn’t actually need doing every year. But it’s another potentially lifesaving test, so don’t put it off. The smear test screens for cervical cancer. Cells are collected from the cervix and sent off for analysis in the lab. Technicians are looking for abnormal cells that could develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.
It’s recommended that sexually active women start going for their Pap tests at 25. Or within 3 years of becoming active sexually. Whichever comes first for you. Between the ages of 25 and 69, you should go every 3 years if your test results return normal. Once over 70, smears can stop if you’ve had 3 consecutive negative results that presented no abnormalities.
Paps aren’t always the nicest experience. However, these tips will make it much more comfortable:
- Book in when you’re not on your period.
- Don’t use any creams or have sex at least 24 hours beforehand.
- Wear comfortable clothing that’s easy to get on and off.
- It might be difficult, but try to relax. Tension in your pelvic muscles can make it more uncomfortable.
- Still nervous? Talk to the practitioner beforehand. They can talk you through the procedure so you’ll know exactly what to expect.
There you have it: the top four annual tests every woman should schedule. Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive. Depending on your health needs and personal situation, there may be additional check-ups you’d benefit from.
Take charge of your health, and don’t put off taking care of yourself. Get informed, determine what works for you, and identify the necessary tests before creating a comprehensive health plan. And finally, start taking good care of yourself.
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