Okay, three weeks into the New Year and it feels like…
Financial goals, check!
Relationship goals, check!
Fitness and wellness goals, check!
But wait, what about our health goals?
Thing is, it is easy to get caught up in everything else except the machine that actually gets all that work done…your body. It is also easy to have an “if I’m not sick, I don’t go to the hospital” mentality.
Well sorry, ladies. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” idea doesn’t work for your body. I tend to think of it as more of a health care as a form of routine servicing. Just like you what you would do for your car.
So, to get your body functioning in optimal capacity, here are five things you should add to your checklist this year. In fact, make it the first quarter of the year. Because the earlier the better.
Breast examination and mammography
Living in the 21st century, breast cancer is something you have more than likely heard of. There are quite a number of predisposing factors for the disease including, but not limited to, genetics. Which means you don’t have to ‘have it in your family’ to take action. Practice breast self-examination monthly to know how your breasts will normally feel and look. This is so that, if there is an anomaly, it will be picked up right on time.
Women above 40 and women with high risk (genetics, previous lumps etc) should do a mammogram test yearly.
Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear
Very few people know that it is recommended that 11 to 12-year-old girls (and boys) get two doses of Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine to protect against cancers. Many Africans do not get this vaccine. So, when these children become adults and are sexually active, they end up spreading and passing this virus around.
The virus can be carried by both sexes but manifests in some women as genital warts and cervical cancer.
Not to sound like the grim reaper but, I strongly advise that every female above 21 or who has the intention of becoming sexually active should get the HPV vaccine. If you are already sexually active, you should make sure you use a condom to lower your chances of getting HPV. Although, condoms do not cover all the parts that can be infected by HPV.
Catch-up vaccines are recommended for boys and men through age 21 and for girls and women through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
Routine screenings for women aged 21-65 are also recommended to prevent cervical cancer.
Always do skin patch tests when you are trying out new products. Always check your skin and report any abnormal colours, patches, rashes or fluid. For people that are predisposed to skin cancers are have a family member you suffered from the disease, this is even more important.
Women between the ages of 20-45 should do an occasional cholesterol screening test. If your cholesterol levels are usually normal, you can skip the screening and spread it to once every 5 years. Except if there is a great change in lifestyle. Including diet and weight gain.
If you are prone to having high blood pressure levels above 140/80, or your body mass is greater than 25, you should be screened for diabetes and high blood sugar.
Other screenings that may not be necessary for young women but are important for older women are Bone Density tests which help to prevent and manage osteoporosis, Blood pressure tests, among others.
So, do well to remind your mothers, grandmothers, aunties and other female acquaintances.