Being a woman can be tough at times and we don’t do as much as we should about looking after ourselves. With busy lives, demanding families and jobs, sometimes our health and general welfare can get overlooked. But if we just keep thrashing away, ignoring our physical and mental health, sooner or later things will start to hurt somewhere.
Get yourself booked in
So before you get to that rather desperate point, it is wise to make sure that everything is in order as far as your health is concerned. Get yourself booked in for a well woman check-up at your local doctor’s surgery and they will be able to put you through your paces. The healthier you feel the better able you are to cope with everything life throws at you.
First of all the basics will be covered. This will include taking your blood pressure, testing cholesterol levels, urine and weight checks. If these checks highlight any problems you will be advised of the necessary steps to take.
There are many specific health issues that relate only to females so a well woman health check-up is a great idea. If you would rather see a female practitioner make this known at the surgery. Often well woman clinics are run by female health professionals, either nurses or doctors, and if it is important for you to see someone female, it can be arranged.
What is included in a well woman check?
A well woman check is the perfect time for you to discuss any gynaecological problems you may have been experiencing and the nurse or doctor may want to examine you or arrange for further tests. The menopause can present problems for many women and a well woman check is also a good time to raise these matters. HRT or other courses of treatment may be discussed with you to help ease any unpleasant symptoms.
A well woman check will include a breast examination to ensure all is well. Where lumps or thickened tissue is detected a mammography is likely to be recommended. This painless and simple scan will need to be scheduled at a clinic elsewhere.
Family planning is something that can be dealt with at a well woman clinic. IUDs can be fitted and advice can be issued on various forms of contraception (including emergency contraception.) For discreet and private information on options available and what may be best suited to your situation, ask the nurse or doctor in attendance.
Cervical smears are conducted as part of a well woman check-up and are considered important in the fight against cervical cancer. Rates of cervical cancer have fallen dramatically since this test was introduced as a regular date on the medical calendar. All sexually active women up to the age of 65 should be tested. This quick and painless test involves taking samples of cells from the cervix in order to analyse them for pre-cancerous cells. Cervical smear tests should be undertaken once every three years, most results come back normal but if they do indicate any changes in the cervical area, early detection is key.
As women age the chances of osteoporosis become increased. This disease effects the density of the bones and leads to them becoming weaker and more prone to fractures. Often the patient is unaware of the condition until a bone fracture occurs, usually caused by a minor fall. The bones most commonly effected by breaks are hip, spinal vertebrae and wrists. Discuss any concerns you may have about osteoporosis at the well woman clinic and they will be able to advise on diet, exercise and lifestyle changes you can make which will help. If your medical practitioner suspects you are at risk from osteoporosis they may refer you for a DXA Scan. This painless test measures the density of your bones and helps assess how much at risk from fractures you are.
The term ‘well woman’ is a catch all for medical check-ups that are specific to female well-being. Examinations may vary from place to place but the basics remain the same. Viewed as a regular MOT for the body, a well woman check should be an annual fixture on the calendar. If you have questions, doubts or worries about certain conditions that effect women, the well woman check is the perfect time to raise them.