Doctors are expensive but your health is so worth it. We all know that we should be going to the doctor more often, but tend to wait until there’s something wrong before we do so. Remember that prevention is the best cure and book yourself in for that gynae appointment you’ve been putting off for four years today.
Here are the 6 most essential tests to get done if you’re a woman:
1 Your Breasts
The test: A breast exam and/or mammogram
Did you know that breast cancer is the most common cancer in South African women? All the more reason to get super familiar with how your breasts look and feel ASAP.
When checking yourself the thing that should cause concern is change. So if your nipples have always been inverted it’s no big deal, but if they suddenly turn inverted go get that checked out. If you’re under 40 then self-examination should do you well.
Any time you go to your gynaecologist or GP you can ask them to do a quick check too though as part of your regular check up. A mammogram is only essential if you’re over 40 or have breast or ovarian cancer in your family.
2 Your Blood Sugar Levels
The test: A simple finger prick blood test done at a pharmacy or clinic
Another one for South Africans to look out for: diabetes. It is estimated that 5 million people in South Africa have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. If left untreated it can lead to blindness, amputation, kidney failure and heart disease.
The issue is that the symptoms are initially somewhat mild and develop slowly. They include:
- excessive thirst
- excessive urination
- blurry vision
- getting thrush regularly
- slow wound healing
Being over 35 and overweight also heightens your chances of developing diabetes.
3 Your Cervix
The test: A pap smear
Another prevalent cancer in South African women is cervical cancer. It’s treatable if found early though, you just need your gynaecologist to check you for any abnormal cells.
If it’s been three years since your last check up at the gynae book an appointment today, seriously. If you really can’t find the time you can actually order an HPV test (HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer) to do at home here, so now you really have no excuse not to look after yourself.
4 Your whole body TBH
The test: A complete physical
The best cure for anything is prevention. By getting regular general check ups you will be able to notice any changes better and your doctor will become more familiar with your body and what it’s up to. Your doctor will get your family’s medical history, which is super helpful to know for your own health. They’ll also check your vitals (blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate), conduct a visual exam (where they inspect your body by sight) and a physical exam (where they feel for any abnormalities). Your doctor will also take some blood and send that off for testing. Your blood exam will cover a range of checks including iron levels and Vitamin B12 levels.
5 Your sexual health
The test: A STD test
Not all STDs show obvious symptoms. Some are relatively silent, and if left untreated can lead to infertility.
If you’re sexually active you should get tested once a year. Also whenever you and a partner want to stop using condoms be sure to get both of you tested first.
6 Your skin
The test: Being examined by a dermatologist
You should get your skin looked at once a year, especially if you have a lot of moles. South Africa has one of the highest incidences of malignant melanoma (i.e. the most deadly kind of skin cancer) in the world. By regularly going to a dermatologist any changes to your moles can be tracked and if caught early skin cancer is totally treatable.
Read more about body health.