Women’s health: the checks you need in your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond
As women, our health needs change considerably over time. Here’s a broad overview of what we know about each decade for women – and a handy guide to the tests you should be having depending on your age. This varies depending on your individual circumstances and family history.
For all ages
No matter how old you are, focus on:
- good nutrition, drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking
- protecting your skin from the sun and monitoring it for changes
- your mental health and developing strategies to keep you happy and healthy
- being aware of unusual changes to your breasts and vulva.
Checkups-may vary depending on your individual history and family history. Some screening may need to be done earlier. They may include:
Throughout your adult life, see your GP for:
- a Cervical Screening Test every five years from the age of 25 until you’re 74
- skin checks
- vaccinations for travel, booster shots and an annual flu shot
- a sexual health check once a year if you are sexually active, or if you have had unsafe sex or think you may have an STI
- blood pressure and cholesterol/diabetes screening.
Your dentist and optometrist will also let you know how often to have dental and eye checks.
Health care in your 20s is largely about prevention – ensuring that your body is fit and healthy for the road ahead.
Aside from what we’ve already listed for women of all ages, if you’re in your 20s remember to:
- eat healthily
- exercise, including keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong
- practise safe sexual intercourse
- understand your contraception options.
When you reach your 30s, carry on the good eating, exercise and sexual health habits you’ve developed during your 20s. Many women in their 30s are juggling families, work and other commitments, and this decade is about prioritising self-care.
Aside from what we’ve already listed for women of all ages, if you’re in your 30s remember to:
- exercise regularly – every day if possible
- stay vigilant with your skin as it begins to show signs of ageing
- look after your mental health – try mindfulness, meditation or yoga practices to help you manage stress.
Carry on the good habits you’ve developed in your 20s and 30s. In your 40s your metabolism may slow down, and your menstrual cycle can change as you head toward menopause.
Aside from what we’ve already listed for women of all ages, if you’re in your 40s remember to:
- remain vigilant about safe sex and contraception. Although lots of women have healthy pregnancies during their 40s, there is an increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects during this time.
- talk to your doctor about when you should start having regular breast screens
- be aware that hormonal changes could have an impact on your mental health – see your doctor if you aren’t feeling like yourself for two weeks or more.
Your 50s usually sees the onset of menopause. Focus on self-care and staying fit during this decade and be aware of some new regular health checks.Start screening for osteoporosis if haven’t started earlier.
Aside from what we’ve already listed for women of all ages, if you’re in your 50s remember to:
- visit BreastScreen Queensland every two years and have your GP check any unusual breast changes between screenings
- use the bowel cancer screening kit that will be mailed to you every two years
- talk to your doctor about bone density testing
- stay active – activities such as swimming, bushwalking or gardening can have social benefits as well as keeping you healthy.
60s and over
Continue a healthy lifestyle when you’re 60 and over and talk to your doctor whenever health concerns arise.
Aside from the checks you’ve been having in your 50s and what we’ve already listed for women of all ages, from your 60s onwards remember to:
- visit BreastScreen Queensland every two years until you’re 74
- use the bowel cancer screening kit that will be mailed to you every two years until you’re 74
- stay mentally and physically active.