Women’s health concerns change at different stages of our lives, and as we age, we need to keep an eye on certain things. So, what health concerns should women be mindful of? Establishing a habit of monitoring your health at all ages is essential, so we have put together a timeline to help you manage your health throughout the different stages in life.
Women’s Health: What to Watch In Your 20s and 30s
Staying healthy may not be the foremost thought in a 20-year-old’s mind, but taking care of your health now is a good idea, as the decisions you make now will affect your health later in life. Webdoctor.ie recommends:
- Regular blood pressure tests: if you are taking a contraceptive pill, you will need a blood pressure test every 6 months.
- Cholesterol tests: cholesterol should be checked every 5 years at least.
- Create healthy habits by maintaining a good diet and regular exercise.
Feel the Burn
Regular exercise is imperative in helping to prevent obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and in turn, heart disease in women of all ages. Staying active can also positively impact your mental health, so it’s a win-win. If exercise does not come naturally to you, try building up your stamina with our couch to 5k programme, which can be done at your own pace. Alternatively, check out our blog post on how to change your fitness routine for good.
A woman’s metabolism starts to slow down in her 30s, so it becomes even more important at this age to improve eating habits. Try swapping out sugary snacks with whole foods and vegetables. Protein-rich foods like nuts and legumes give us a boost of energy and keep us feeling full for longer – helping us to beat pesky snack cravings!
Smoking can lead to lung cancer as well as heart disease and emphysema. It also causes a breakdown in the skin’s collagen, which will make you look older than you actually are.
Always Wear Sunscreen
If you’re currently looking out the window and it’s cloudy and overcast, it might sound silly but you should always wear SPF. It’s not just for the summer holidays; a good sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays should be applied every day. The Irish Cancer Society recommend applying a full teaspoon of SPF on the face and the neck which you can apply as the last step of your morning skincare routine, after moisturiser. SPF is not just important to protect your skin against fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, it’s important to protect your skin against skin cancer. Being aware of the early signs of skin cancer is extremely important, particularly among young people.
The incidence of STIs, such as Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia, among young people is on the rise and although easily treatable, can lead to serious health concerns if not detected. Women in this age group and at every age should always insist on a condom or carry their own supply to prevent the spread of the aforementioned infections, along with other infections, such as HIV, syphilis and herpes.
It is recommended to get an STI screening every year that you are sexually active with more than one partner. You can order a Home STI Test Kit through our service and we’ll send a discreetly packaged test to your home, so you can check in without a visit to your local clinic.
Dr Mooney’s Advice:
“Always practise safe sex by using a barrier method such as a condom for any sexual activity to minimise the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. If you notice any symptoms affecting urination or causing unusual discharge or pain lower down in the pelvis, then always get medical advice preferably in a face to face consultation. The sooner a cause is found, the sooner you will relax!“
Alcohol in Moderation
Drinking more than the recommended weekly guidelines can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer and other medical problems. Binge drinking in your 20’s and 30’s can lead to high blood pressure, liver damage, and other health problems.
Women and people with a cervix, between the age of 25 and 65 should ensure they go for cervical screening when it’s due. Also known as a “smear test”, a cervical screening test checks the health of your cervix by checking for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and abnormal cell changes.
When you are eligible for your screening, you will receive a letter from the HSE, inviting you to make an appointment with a registered GP, doctor or clinic. Between the ages of 25 and 29 years old, you will be invited for a cervical screening every 3 years however, you may need to attend tests more often if extra monitoring is required.
It is important that every woman is breast aware. You should get into the habit of looking at, and feeling your breasts at least on a monthly basis. The best time to do this is the week after your period has ended. This will help you get to know what’s normal for you! We’ve made a handy checklist that you can refer back to each month. If you notice any changes in your breasts, please consult your doctor.
Monthly Breast Checklist:
- Check your breast in front of the mirror, so you can look for changes.
- Firstly, raise both arms above your head.
- Look for any changes in the physical appearance of the breast.
- Then, place your hands on your hips and lean forward.
- Look for any changes in the nipple.
- Next, using 4 fingers and the flat of your hand, move your hand slowly around the breast in a circular motion, checking for lumps and bumps as you move. Keep moving inwards, towards the nipple, remembering to also feel the nipple itself.
- Finally, feel up towards and under your armpits.
- Repeat the process for your other breast.
Women’s Health: What to Watch in Your 40s and 50s
Trying to balance work, kids, and looking after ageing parents makes taking care of yourself a difficult, but very important task. Webdoctor.ie recommends:
- Yearly blood pressure tests: you may need tests more often if you test high
- Cholesterol tests: every 5 years
- Following health habits in your daily routine for diet and exercise
Upping your calcium intake in your 40s and 50s to help prevent osteoporosis is a good idea, particularly as a woman enters menopause. If you think your diet is lacking dairy, your GP might recommend taking a daily supplement with calcium and vitamin D (you need vitamin D to properly absorb calcium).
Get a Mammogram
Women aged 50 to 64 years of age can avail themselves of free yearly mammograms through BreastCheck, the national breast screening programme. Women in this age group are strongly encouraged to go for screening as the disease is extremely treatable if caught early.
Generally, women reach menopause at the age of 52, when they haven’t had a period for one year. Symptoms can include night sweats, hot flushes, and irritability. Luckily, treatments are available from your GP that can help make the transition easier.
Menopausal vaginal dryness is one of the most common female health issues for women over 45 years of age but Webdoctor.ie can help. You can learn more about menopausal vaginal dryness here or request a prescription for treatment here.
Women at this age may want to consider changing their contraceptive methods; switching from the contraceptive pill to perhaps an IUD or oestrogen patch is recommended as some birth control pills can lead to increased cardiovascular risks.
As mentioned above, you are eligible for free cervical screening via the National Cervical Screening Programme (CervicalCheck) until you reach 65 years of age. Therefore, you should ensure you attend regular tests.
Women’s Health: What to Watch in Your 60s and Beyond
The good habits developed in earlier years will show their true value now. Keep following the healthy habits in your daily routine for diet and exercise. Webdoctor.ie recommends:
- Yearly blood pressure tests: you may need more frequent testing if you test high
- Cholesterol tests: every 3 to 5 years
- Eye and hearing tests
Avoid The Flu
Women in this age group should get a flu vaccine every year. According to the HSE, flu can cause around 1,000 deaths in Ireland during a severe season, so it’s important to protect yourself and stay up-to-date with vaccinations.
Reduce your risk of falling by strengthening your legs through resistance training. Osteoporosis is also a concern for women in this age group, so building bone density (via moderate-intensity exercise) is crucial.
Reducing the Risk of Cancer
Maintaining a healthy weight can help lower your risk of cancer. Women aged 60 and beyond are encouraged to exercise for 30 minutes, at a moderately intense level, three days a week.
It’s estimated that almost all of us will have to wear glasses or contact lenses by the age of 65. Regular eye tests will also identify diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and general health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Use Your Brain
It’s important to keep your brain active as you get older. New hobbies, social activities, and even doing crossword puzzles all ensure your brain stays busy and alert!
Webdoctor.ie, Caring for Women’s Health at Every Age
Here at Webdoctor.ie, we offer a range of female reproductive health, and general health treatments. Check your sexual health with our Home Test Kits, request prescriptions for contraceptives, or speak to a doctor about health concerns via an online video consultation.