The midlife years are an important time in a Women's health.
It's an opportunity to make sure you are looking after yourself and keeping up to date with all your health checks.
Here is a summary of the basic checks you should be doing and how often:
You should get in the habit of checking your breasts regularly, preferably every month.
If you are still having periods, its best to check them in the week after your period.
You can find a helpful guide on how to examine your breasts here
It's a good idea to see your GP at least once every year to have the following checks:
- Blood pressure
- Height and Weight for BMI
- Bloods Tests (especially Cholesterol and Diabetes)
Having a full skin check once every year is advised from at least the age of 40.
These are unfortunately not funded. They can be done by private dermatologists, Molemap clinics or with some GPs.
You can check with your GP practice if any of the doctors have further training in dermatology and can offer you full skin checks.
EVERY 2 YEARS
In New Zealand, screening mammograms (which means having a mammogram when you do not have any symptoms concerning you) are free from age 45 to age 69.
However, research says women should start them from the age 40.
You can often self-refer for a screening mammogram from the age of 40 and it usually costs around $150-$200.
If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may be eligible to have funded screening mammograms from an earlier age than 45. You can see your GP if you are not sure.
If you ever have any symptoms, which include either a breast lump or nipple changes/discharge - you can see your GP and be referred for a fully funded Mammogram (and often ultrasound also) at any time and at any age.
You can find out more about the NZ Breast Screening Programme here
EVERY 3 YEARS
Cervical Smear Test
In New Zealand, these are advised every 3 years from the age of 25 until 69.
If you’ve ever had an abnormal smear, you may need them more frequently. You can call your Practice Nurse at your GP if you are not sure how frequently you should be having your smears.
If you ever have any symptoms, such as bleeding after sex, pain with sex or abnormal discharge - then you should see your GP or Practice Nurse to have a smear, regardless of when your last smear was.
You can find our more about the NZ Cervical Screening Programme here