health

The 9 health checks you should be having if you're in your 40s.

Things hit a little differently in your 40s. Many say it's a time in your life when you stop sweating the small things. Others say it's when you start realising what's actually important (erm... you). You stop scrambling. You stop trying to put pieces together. Waaay less f**ks are given. Like, so few. 

Watch: Just on the whole health check thingo - here's why you should talk to your family about their health history. Post continues below. 


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Now, while it's a great time do you, it's also a stellar time to make sure your health is in check.

We've pulled together a list of basic health checks every woman in her 40s should ask for. (Just don't be surprised if your doctor orders a few additional tests or refers you to some specialists).

1. Blood pressure check.

This probably won't be anything new to you, because you might already be having your blood pressue tested every year or two. But your 40s is a time when you should really stay on top of it. 

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for things like heart disease and stroke - sneaky conditions that often don't show symptoms. 

If you have high blood pressure, no stress (seriously, please don't stress, 'cause blood pressure). You'll usually be able to lower it through things like diet, exercise and medication - but your doc will give you the lowdown on this, anyway.

2. Pap smear and cervical cancer screening.

Yep - you still need to do these.

You might not be seeing your gyno as regularly as you used to if you're done with having kids or haven't gone down that path, or maybe you've settled into a monogamous relationship - so, does it still apply? Sure does.

Listen: Check out Mamamia's podcast, The Quicky, where we find out whether science and technology are decreasing the risks of fertility related issues as we age, and what you can do to be in the best possible position to have a baby later on in life. Post continues below.

Women aged between 30 to 65 should have a pap smear and cervical screening test every five years. 

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But trust us, it's worth it. A few uncomfortable minutes could prevent you from cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

3. Cholesterol screening.

Did you know approximately half of all adult Australians have high cholesterol? We had no idea. We're talking about a condition that could lead to heart attacks or strokes, so it would be pretty silly to delay a simple blood test that could save your life. 

It may surprise you to know that heart disease is actually the number one killer of Australian women. In fact, heart disease kills three times as many women as breast cancer. So yeah - make sure you protect yourself.

4. Eye check.

Even if you're *positive* you're still rocking that 20/20 vision, you should get your eyes checked - because restaurant menus and text messages shouldn't be that hard to read, folks. 

Developing presbyopia (trouble reading up close) is super common and usually nothing to worry about, and a pair of reading glasses from the chemist should generally do the trick. 

Image: Getty

However, it should serve as a good reminder that you should see an optometrist for an eye exam, to check everything is okay with your eye health. Starting at 40, you should be tested every one to three years for glaucoma and retinal disease.

5. Skin check.

You should already be doing this on the regular, right? RIGHT?

All those years of laying out in the sun and getting a tan (sooo '80s) can lead to skin cancer - so you're going to want to make sure you keep on top of any moles or changes in your skin. 

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Most skin cancers are highly treatable, especially when they’re caught early, so having skin cancer screenings is an important part of your healthcare routine. 

If you've never had a skin check, DO IT. Like, now. Schedule a full body exam at a skin cancer clinic.

6. Breast exam and mammogram.

While there's conflicting advice on whether the average woman should wait until 50 to have a breast screening, if you have a family history of breast cancer it's probably worth getting tested - as early detection and treatment is pivotal. 

According to the Cancer Council, all women aged 40 to 49 years have free access to the Breast Screen Australia program should you choose to a have a screening mammogram. 

If you're confused, don't feel alone. Speak to your doctor and they'll be able to give you some advice.

7. Thyroid function.

A whopping half a million Aussies have thyroid disease, so it's a good sign that you should get yours checked out - at least every five years. It's usually part of your standard blood test anyway, and your doctor will be able to tell you if it is working the way it should. 

If it is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism), your doctor will be able to give you advice on how best to manage the condition (whether it be via medication, diet or lifestyle changes).

8. Diabetes screening.

If you have a family history of diabetes or are overweight, you've probably been keeping a close eye on your blood sugar over the years. 

However, if this isn't already on your radar, just a heads-up that everyone should be screened for risk of diabetes from 40 years of age - and then have another test every three years.

9. Mental health screening.

This is an important one that often seems to fall by the wayside. No matter what your age, you should be keeping tabs on your mental health. A mental health check can determine whether you're experiencing symptoms like anxiety or depression. 

Curious to know how it works? Your doctor will conduct the initial assessment, and then they'll be able to give you a referral to see a psychologist. You'll get a certain number of sessions rebatable under Medicare, so it's worth taking the leap and following through.

If you have concerns about your mental health, or if you’ve noticed changes in the way you’re thinking or feeling, check in with your GP and make sure everything is okay.

Feature image: Getty

What are some important things you noticed about your health in your 40s? Share you experience with us in the comment section below.

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