Confession time: I don’t remember the last time I went to the dentist.
Some people might think this is no biggie. But I’m prone to serious gum problems – it runs in the family (thank you, genetics from dad’s side, I wanted nothing more than a lifetime of flossing like a maniac). As a result, I’m meant to visit the dentist every six months. At least.
But you know what? Life gets in the way. And I can think of at least four hundred other things, just off the top of my head, that I’d rather do than go to the dentist. Even going for a Pap smear. Which, incidentally, I only recently did because my doctor had a note in her system that I was overdue and sprung it on me as a surprise during an appointment relating to something else entirely.
Worst surprise ever.
Nevertheless, it’s no secret that we ladies are terrible at keeping up with our appointments. We get distracted by life. We prioritise everything in front of our own health – including the health of everyone else we know. We underestimate the importance of looking out for our health, despite the fact that we know perfectly well that we’re supposed to put our own oxygen mask on first before helping others.
So here is our guide to the appointments you should be making – and how often you should be making them. Have a read and then pick up your phone and make some appointments if you’re overdue for any…
Every two years
1. According to the Australian government’s National Cervical Screening Program, all women over the age of 18 who have had sex should have a pap smear every two years – even if they are no longer sexually active.
You are recommended to continue having pap smears even after menopause… that’s a lot of Pap smears to look forward to. Of course, if a smear shows significant cell changes or if your medical practitioner is concerned, you may have to get them more frequently.
2. An eye exam is recommended for adults every two years. After the age of 40, the Optometrists Association of Australia recommends paying special attention to changes in your vision and making even more regular appointments, as you are at a much higher risk of certain eye conditions, which can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Incidentally, eye examinations provided by optometrists are subsidised by Medicare for all permanent residents of Australia.
3. The Cancer Council of Australia recommends that women aged 50-74 should get a mammogram every two years to check for breast cancer. This involves checking for cancer even if there are no symptoms, and can be an incredibly effective way of picking up cancer in its early stages. Of course, if you notice any changes in your breasts at any age, please go and see a doctor. Appointments are free and women across Australia can book by calling 13 20 50.