Let's see a show of hands - How many of you ladies have had an annual comprehensive wellness check? If you are like me, you wait until something is terribly amiss before you step foot into a doctors office. And if you are like me, you likely engage in all kinds of wellness mind-body treatments - some with real preventative or curative medical value and some that just feel good - because a healthy mind is a healthy body. Most of the time. Sorry Louise Hay. Earlier this month I had multiple visits to various doctors. I was feeling a lot off and despite all of my self diagnosis, I don't have a medical degree so I wanted to get checked out. As it turns out all is well and good - nothing a little sugar and grain detox and extra sleep couldn't help. Nonetheless, I was armed with not only a will to be exceeding well, but a checklist of health points to discuss with my MD. After all, it's my body, right?
Whatever your age, an annual wellness check is a good idea. It takes somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour and includes a summary of your and your family’s medical history, a few standard examinations and tests and a thorough discussion regarding your concerns, complaints or generic well-being at your age. Your annual health checkup is the best time to tell your doctor about all the aches and cramps that have you awake at night with worry. Certain professions and lifestyles might put individuals at specific health risks. So you need to go over your general health status thoroughly. Mention every little thing out of the ordinary, however silly it might seem.
Before you go for your annual check-up, talk to your family about their medical history. Since some diseases carry a genetic predisposition, make sure you mention everything to your doctor. If you haven’t visited your doctor in some time, go over your complete medical history as well. in case you have trouble remembering, it might be a good idea to maintain a log of it. Mention any pre-existing conditions and prescriptions you might be following.
Inquire about supplements
After the age of 30, 40 or 50, a woman has specific needs for certain nutrients that do not get fulfilled with regular food. Also, while taking care of everybody else, women often neglect their own health. For example, Osteoporosis affects women more since they lose bone mass faster. Vitamin D and calcium supplements help. So, make sure you talk to your doctor about filling up the gaps in your nutrition with the help of some supplements. Personally, I only take a probiotic (ActivatedYou) and I find that does the trick, meaning it aids in the digestion of all those good nutrients I'm consuming through my food intake.
Have a heart-to-heart talk
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over 40s. While annual check-ups are good, make sure you keep checking your blood pressure at a more frequent interval. Also keep a check on your cholesterol and blood sugar which are the usual causes for a heat disease. Talk to your physician about the risk factors and how to limit them. And let's not forget about finally tossing that smoking habit and cutting back on the organic wine.
Women over 35, tend to gain weight since their metabolism rates go down. Weight gain in younger women might indicate PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a woman's levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance). An increase in weight might also be due reasons like thyroid or perimenopause. Mention your weight gain to the doctor and figure out the reason behind it. And do not let anyone shame you into thinking you are vain. While your weight is like your age, a number, it's also reflective of your health, stress and wellness.
Apart from the regular tests, women need to get specific tests done according to their age group. Mammograms, thyroid, blood sugar, colorectal cancer screenings, cholesterol and pap smears are just the regular ones you need to ask your doctor about during the annual check-up.
Menstrual cycles/ menopause
Irregular menstrual cycles can be due a lot more than just a change in the weather. Tests will be able to figure out the underlying cause if any. It is important to mention it to your doctor especially if you are planning a baby in the near future. Also, after the age of 40, you need to start preparing for menopause. (I had my daughter at 43, so there are no set rules about female health and fertility). Discuss with your doctor, the impact of menopause on your life and the lifestyle changes you might need to make.
Contraception, screening for STDs are other points to discuss with your doctor.
Good luck, be fearless with questions and stay healthy and well.