If you’ve been putting yourself about all others, then this September 5-11 dedicate some time to you as part of this year’s Women’s Health Week, organised by national not-for-profit organisation Jean Hailes for Women’s Health.
Celebrating its 10th year, the Women’s Health Week annual campaign is the biggest week in Australia dedicated to good health and wellbeing for women, girls, and gender-diverse people. This year the popular campaign is all about knowing it is okay to put yourself first. At Family Doctors Plus, we are strong advocates for health prevention, and we encourage women to set aside time during Women’s Health Week to think about your health.
To help, we’ve put a list of five things you can check in with yourself during the week.
If you’d like to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health or have any concerns at any time, please feel free to book an appointment for a discussion with one of our understanding GPs or visiting specialists at Family Doctors Plus.
- Do you know the signs of menopause and perimenopause?
Many women reach menopause between 45-55 years old, and the average age for women in Australia to reach menopause is 51-52 years. Some women might have later menopause (up to 60 years of age) and sometimes it can occur earlier than expected. Perimenopause is the transition or lead-up to menopause (running out of eggs) and lasts an average of 4-6 years. Sometimes it can be one year, or sometimes it can be as long as 10 years. Periods start to become less regular, may be lighter or heavier and menopausal symptoms often begin. Many women talk of perimenopause as a time of emotional chaos due to the fluctuation in hormones.
- For more information, see the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health website here.
- Your pelvic floor
Did you know pelvic floor exercises are important for all women to practise to maintain strong muscles and reduce the risk of incontinence and prolapse as you age? It is also important pelvic floor muscles can be “let go”.
- For more about pelvic floor, including bowel health and exercises you can do, click here.
- Your mind and emotional health
Even if you are mentally healthy, there are still times you’ll likely experience tough or emotional times. The key is knowing how to manage adversity, trauma and stress in a way that positively works for you. Ask yourself if you are getting:
- Enough exercise. Regular exercise has been linked to improved mental and emotional health including improved mood and self-efficacy and reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Endorphins (feel-good hormones) can be released in just 10 minutes of exercise.
- Enough relaxation time for your brain. Practice relaxation techniques to help you wind down every day. This might include listening to soothing music, avoiding screen time an hour before bed, meditating or simply sitting on park bench and enjoying some quiet time to think. Having time to reflect each day is so important, as is having time to do things you enjoy, such as being socially connected or time to be creative.
- Your physical health
If you’re in good physical health you’re more likely to reduce your risk of heart attacks, manage your weight better, have lower blood cholesterol, and lower your risk of falls, among many other benefits. Powerful feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins are released during physical activity, boosting mood and energy levels. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you aren’t a regular exerciser, see your doctor first to set a safe exercise plan for you.
- Further reading about maintaining a healthy weight and exercise can be found on the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health website here.
- Are you due for a health check?
At Family Doctors Plus we are focussed on preventive health care and helping women make healthier choices to live their best lives possible.
- Importance of self-checks
See your doctor for regular yearly check-ups to help pick up any early warning signs of disease or illness. Many diseases such as heart, diabetes and some cancers can be picked up in their early stages when treatment is often more effective. If you have a family history of any illness, or if your lifestyle isn’t as healthy as you’d like it to be, it is recommended you have check-ups more regularly.
Self-checks to make part of your regular home routine include checking for changes in the skin, teeth, maintaining a healthy weight, and leading a balanced lifestyle. Checking in with your emotional health is important and learning the signs of anything unusual with your gynaecological health. Check you are not drinking alcohol excessively (not more than two standard drinks at a time, for example, and have two alcohol-free days a week) and if you are smoking, try to quit as smoking increases your risk of disease. See your doctor if there is anything concerning you during your self-checks or upon self-reflection.
- Checks to see a GP about
At Family Doctors Plus we are committed to women’s health, providing a range of holistic services suited to their needs. Some of the checks women should see their GP for include contraception, pre-pregnancy advice and pregnancy care; management of menopause; cervical screenings, STI screenings; breast cancer checks; eye health; immunisations; heart health checks; bone density tests; and other screenings to detect the likes of diabetes or cancer in early stages.
You know your body better than anybody else so please see your GP if you would like a check-up at any time or if you have any concerns.
Jean Hailes For Women’s Health website is an excellent resource for understanding research, and knowing what tests or screenings are important for women under the age of 20, women in their 20-40s, women 40-60 and so on. Click on this link to find the section relevant to your age group.