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Health checks for women over 50

Health checks for women over 50

Health checks for women over 50

10 women’s health checks to consider when you’re over 50

5th – 11th September 2022 is Women’s Health Week. This is a nation-wide campaign centred around improving women’s health and helping you make healthier choices.

The intention for women’s health week is for you to set aside time for your health. One crucial thing you can do is book in a time for a health check. Checking in regularly with your health care provider is one of the best ways to maintain your health and find out early if something has changed.

The women’s health checks to consider when you’re over 50

It’s important that we keep up to date with our health, particularly over the age of 50. This is the age when some health conditions can appear, and it can also be a good time to prevent chronic illnesses that may appear later in life.

Here are 10 women’s health checks you could consider.

The health checks you need will vary for each person depending on your individual risks, medical background and family history. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what checks you should consider.

1. Heart health checks

One in 6 Australians lives with cardiovascular disease. It’s a major cause of death accounting for one in four deaths.

  • Your blood pressure should be checked every 2 years, or more often if you have a family history.
  • You should also get a cholesterol and lipids blood test at least every five years after you turn 50. If you are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, you should be tested every year or two.

2. Diabetes health checks

You’re at higher risk for diabetes if you’re over 45 years old and have a BMI over 30, had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy, have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), have a family history of diabetes, are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander aged over 35 years or belong to certain ethnic groups – including Pacific Islander and Sri Lankan.

  • You should get a blood glucose test every three years or every year if you’re at high risk.

3. Breast checks

Increasing age is a major risk factor for developing breast cancer. If you notice any breast changes, make sure you visit your GP within the next week.

  • Every women regardless of age should do a monthly breast self-examination to monitor for changes.
  • If you’re aged between 50 – 74 with no personal or family history of breast cancer, get a mammogram every two years. If you have a family or personal history, make sure you talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened.

4. Cervical screening

The cervical screening test looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus can cause changes to cells in your cervix and, in rare cases, cause cervical cancer.

  • Women between 25 and 74 should get a cervical screening test every 5 years.

5. Bowel cancer health checks

Bowel cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death.

  • If you’re over 50, you should do a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years. You collect a poo sample at home and send it to the pathology company where they test for blood.

6. Bone checks

Osteoporosis is a disease where bones become more fragile and are at increased risk of fractures. Post-menopausal women are at a particular risk of osteoporosis. Lifestyle factors, family history, and some medications and diseases can also increase your risk.

  • Talk to your doctor about your risk of osteoporosis, and whether you should do a bone density test.

7. Eye health checks

Eyesight can deteriorate with age. Glaucoma is also a risk, particularly for women who have a strong family history and/or are of African, Asian or Caucasian descent. Women aged 50 and over with diabetes, myopia, prior eye injury, high blood pressure, long-term steroid use and migraine and peripheral vasospasm are also at risk of glaucoma.

  • If you have a family history of glaucoma, you should have an eye health check 5-10 years earlier than when the age when your relative developed glaucoma.
  • If you are at high risk, schedule in an eye health check, then have regular follow-ups determined by your doctor.
  • If you’re over 50, you should have eye tests every two years.

8. Hearing checks

Hearing loss is common, particularly with people over 65. You should get a hearing check if you notice symptoms.

9. Dental checks

You should visit the dentist at least once a year to monitor for gum disease and tooth decay.

10. Skin checks

The largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year is skin cancer. Everyone should check their freckles, moles and skin blemishes regularly for changes to size, colour, shape or feel itching or pain.

Visit your doctor if you see anything unusual and see a dermatologist regularly if you are at high risk of skin cancer.

How else can you stay healthy?

In addition to women’s health checks, it’s also important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet, do regular exercise, drink lots of water, quit smoking, limit alcohol and talk to your doctor if you notice any concerning changes.

If you’re finding it difficult to maintain your health, Five Good Friends can help. With our services, we can provide transport to medical and health appointments, and help you access community services so you can maintain your health. Get in touch to find out more.

Learn more: What you need to know about ageing well


Heart foundation Preventative activities in general practice Health direct Jean Hailes for Women's Health Better Health Victoria

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