A checklist for women’s health

To commemorate Women’s Day this year, we’re exploring the screenings and checks that help our communities prioritise the well-being of women.

Most of us know we need to schedule our annual health checks, but the rush of daily life tends to cause these appointments to fall through the cracks. Generally, women are more likely than men to forego their needs to prioritise those of others. Beyond this, the deeply entrenched gende inequalities in our society mean that women experience significant barriers to accessing and paying for healthcare.

In particular, women living in poverty and those living outside of major metropolitan areas often face exceedingly long waiting periods for consultations, diagnosis and treatment. As a result, they can be more susceptible to preventable diseases that could be combated through early detection.

Did you know?

  • In South Africa, women remain more affected by the HIC epidemic than men.
  • Women in Africa are more likely than those one any other continent to die from communicable diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria), maternal conditions and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Following the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of African countries reported disruptions to healthcare services for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent care.

The importance of regular health screenings

Several diseases – including cardiovascular disease and certain cancers – can be detected in their early stages by medical screening, making treatment more effective. Consult our handy guide below to see which checks women should prioritise.

Can’t get to them all this month? Don’t feel defeated. Your health is an ongoing journey that you can take control of. Dedicate some time this August to sitting down and scheduling your appointments across the next six months or year.

It’s important to note that if you have a family history of any of the below conditions, you may need earlier or more regular check-ups. Speak to a medical practitioner for sound, condifential advice.

Screenings to schedule now

Breast cancer

When: Manual exam from the age of 20, mammograms from 40
Frequency: Annually
Homework: Perform monthly self-examinations as directed by a healthcare practitioner

Cervical cancer (Pap smear)

Age group: From the age of 20
Frequency: Annually

Blood pressure

Age group: From the age of 20
Frequency: Annually

Cholesterol

Age group: From the age of 18
Frequency: Every four to six years

Osteoporosis

Age group: From the age of 65
Frequency: Every two years

Deep breath!

Try not to feel anxious about your health screenings – you’re not looking for problems, you’re being proactive about keeping yourself as healthy as possible. These health checks, combined with medical consultations, are an excellent way to show care and appreciation for everything your body helps you to do.

References:

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