I’m a woman, what’s your superpower?
Women’s Health Week 2023 – celebrating the Wonder Woman in all of us
September 4–8th 2023 marks Women’s Health week.
A healthy woman is truly a wonder woman – in mind, body, and spirit.
To help ensure you are maintaining your superpower at your maximum charge, here are our top 5 checks, aiming to ensure any health issues are detected early.
Being familiar with your breasts can help ensure that if anything ‘unfamiliar’ appears, you will know quickly. Undertaking monthly breast checks will help you keep on top of any changes (add them to your diary – away from your period).
Click here for a short video on self-examination.
Eligible women in Australia who are over 40 years are entitled to a free mammogram every two years via BreastScreen Australia.1 For further information, head to the BreastScreen website in your local state, or speak to your GP.
Heart health check
Heart disease can develop over years, in some cases without any clear symptoms.2 Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in Australia, and develops when the major blood vessels supplying blood to your heart become narrowed or blocked.3
To help you get the best possible outcome with heart disease, early identification and prevention is key. When you know your risk, you can take the necessary steps required to reduce the risk of having a future cardiac event.2
In Australia if you're 45 years and over, or 30 years and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, it is recommended to book a heart health check.4 Speak to your GP for further information.
Mental health check
A good mental health status has beneficial effects on learning, creativity, productivity, social relationships, physical health, and life expectancy.5 In contrast, some mental health conditions may cause distress, reduce self-esteem and confidence, and negatively impact day-to-day functioning and social relationships.6
A quick weekly check-in with yourself can assist you in noticing any changes in your ability to cope with the day-to-day.
Some of the questions you may like to ask yourself can include:5
- How am I feeling – am I worried, irritable or having mood fluctuations?
- What are my thoughts like – am I feeling self-doubt, confusion, difficulty concentrating?
- Have my routines changed – am I sleeping properly, reaching for alcohol or comfort food more frequently?
- How am I reacting to others? Am I short tempered, unable to focus, reaching for alcohol or comfort food more frequently?
- How does day-to-day life feel – struggling to complete daily tasks, not finding enjoyment in activities?
One suggestion is to choose a check-in buddy - someone you trust and feel like you can be honest with. Set up times to support each other as often as you need to and build self-care plans to help.
If at any time you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please immediately call Triple Zero 000 in Australia, or urgently seek medical or psychological support.
A monthly skin examination will help you notice any changes in existing moles, or see any new ones, both of which can be early signs of skin cancer.7 Be thorough and include your face, scalp, between your toes and fingers as well as palms, soles of the feet and armpits.
You can learn more on our website about skin cancer, by clicking here.
If you believe you are at increased risk for skin cancer or have a family history, you should speak with your GP or skin specialist about having a skin check and for further information.
Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist measurement checks
BMI is a measurement that can give an estimate of whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height.8
Although BMI can be a useful measurement, you may also wish to measure your waist as a further consideration.
- Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs.
- Breathe out normally.
- Place the tape measure midway between these points and wrap it around your waist.
- Check your measurement.
Men: Over 94cm (about 37 inches)* Women: Over 80cm (about 31.5 inches)*
*These guidelines are based on World Health Organization and National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations.
In addition to the above, your age, ethnicity, gender, and body composition are part of your health picture, along with other factors such as family history.2,8 It is recommended to speak with your GP about a comprehensive overview of your health and wellbeing.
Women do not need to start having cervical screening tests until they turn 25. If you’re younger than 25, you are highly unlikely to have cervical cancer. The test is carried out by your GP every 5 years.10
You need to have the test if:10
- you are aged 25 to 74 years old
- you have a cervix
- you have ever been sexually active
You need to have regular cervical screening tests even if you have been vaccinated against HPV.10
Early detection and diagnosis are key to managing and preventing many of the diseases and conditions that negatively affect women’s health. Being familiar with ‘you’, through regular checks, will help ensure you are functioning optimally.
Any medical procedure or treatment involving the use of radiation carries risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with treatment, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.
Please note: The links below are outside of GenesisCare who cannot accept responsibility for the content.
- Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. About the BreastScreen Australia Program. Updated 18 April 2023. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/breastscreen-australia-program/about-the-breastscreen-australia-program (accessed September 2023).
- Heart Foundation. Are you at risk of heart disease? Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/Bundles/Your-heart/are-you-at-risk-of-heart-disease (accessed September 2023).
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts. Updated 30 June 2023. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts/contents/summary-of-coronary-heart-disease-and-stroke/coronary-heart-disease (accessed September 2023).
- Heart Foundation. Time to book a Heart Health Check? Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/Heart-health-education/Heart-Health-checks (accessed September 2023).
- Beyond Blue. What is mental health? Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/mental-health/what-is-mental-health (accessed September 2023).
- Connell J, et al. Health Qual Life Outcomes 2012;10:138.
- Cancer Council. Check for signs of skin cancer. Available from: https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer (accessed September 2023).
- Heart Foundation. What’s your body mass index (BMI)? Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bmi-calculator (accessed September 2023).
- Heart Foundation. What waist measurements mean for your heart. Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/your-heart/waist-measurement (accessed September 2023).
- Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Who should get a cervical screening test. Updated 16 August 2023. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/national-cervical-screening-program/getting-a-cervical-screening-test/who-should-get-a-cervical-screening-test (accessed September 2023).