Health & Fitness

10 things you should get checked by your doc

We spoke to the experts to find out what health checks EVERY girl should be having.

By Edwina Carr

Sore throat? Must be glandular fever. Painful urination? You’ve obvs got a sexually transmitted infection. Do you turn into a health hypochondriac every time you’ve got the slightest symptom? Well, we’ve made your life (and your medical bills) simpler by finding the 10 health checks you should never scrimp on; so you’ll always be a picture of health.

Spotting between periods

Although it might seem pretty insignificant, if you experience spotting in between periods you should definitely talk to your GP; even if you’re on the pill. “Intermenstrual bleeding is quite common and a nuisance and if it persists. If you’re on the pill, you may need to change to a different one,” says Doctor Penny Adams. “Much more significant though is spotting or bleeding after sex (PCB – Post coital bleeding). This must always be checked out as it can be a sign of precancerous or cancerous changes on the cervix.” See? Definitely not something you want to leave to chance.

Pap smear

Ugh, pap smears have got to be one of <the> most uncomfortable procedures us ladies have to endure. But a couple of minutes of discomfort is SO worth it. Why? “Pap smears check for early changes in the cells in your cervix which if untreated can lead to cervical cancer,” says Doctor and health expert Dee Chohan. They also pick up infections so it’s important to pencil one in every two years from age 18, or every two years after you become sexually active.

Breast check

Your doctor will usually perform a breast check on you when you go for your pap smear but being able to self-detect whether your breasts have changed is a skill that could save your life. “To learn how to check your own breasts head to Breastcancer.org for information. A good time to check your breast is monthly after your period,” recommends Dr Penny.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Think using condoms means you’re immune from STIs? Nope. “Herpes and genital warts can still be passed on with oral sex or from his testicles touching your labia (as happens during sex). You should get checked straightaway if you notice sores down there and every few months if you're sleeping with different guys,” says Dr Dee. Even if you have no symptoms it’s still important to get checked so you don’t unintentionally pass on any STIs to other guys you’re sleeping with.

Mental health

Did you know that on average, one in five women will experience depression and one in three will experience anxiety at some stage in their lives? If you’ve been feeling a little down or are struggling with anxiety, be sure to have a chat with your GP about it – mental health should be high on your health priorities list. “If you’re feeling down go to Black Dog Institute and click on the ‘Self-Test for Depression’ option to get an idea as to where your mental health stands. Then follow up on this issue with your GP,” says Dr Penny.

Moles

With the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, us Aussies need to be vigilant about getting our moles and skin checked out by a professional. “Moles can develop into malignant melanoma (skin cancer) so it's vital to have them checked by a GP once a year at least,” says Dr Dee. It’s also important to keep tabs on any changes in moles yourself. How? “Take photos, so you can easily spot any changes and see your doctor straightaway if any mole is getting bigger, changing shape or bleeding,” says Dr Dee.

Dentist

Argh, the dreaded dentist chair where the whizz of the drill is the stuff of nightmares. We know a visit is exxy but it’s important to schedule in an appointment every six months or yearly. “Going to the dentist is important because a simple case of plaque buildup can lead to dental caries, bleeding and tender gums. Also, fillings and brown teeth are not very pretty,” says Dr Dee. Going once a year will save you cashola in the long run, we promise.

Eyes

Even if your eyes have been fine in the past, your vision mightn’t be as good as it was and you could need glasses or contact lenses. “You may be straining your eyes without realising so it’s important to get your eyes tested. It's also important to check for glaucoma and other eye diseases,” says Dr Dee.

Vitamin D levels

Vitamin D is essential for helping the body to absorb calcium and for the health of our bones. One of the only ways to get your prescribed dose of vitamin D is through sunlight. If you’re working in an office, chances are you don’t catch the sun’s rays very often. “A lack of sunlight puts us at risk of becoming deficient so most of us should take a vitamin D supplement daily to prevent osteoporosis and keep our bones strong. I take a capsule every day and get my levels checked each year,” recommends Dr Dee.

Blood sugar

280 Australians develop diabetes every day and it’s our nation’s fastest growing chronic disease. The good news? Up to 60 percent of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented. Be sure to book in for a blood sugar check with your doctor. “Diabetes is becoming incredibly common and can lead to serious illnesses if not treated properly,” says Dr Dee.