Better late than never

Why it’s time to put health checks back on the agenda.

The past few years have been a bit of a blur. Things that would normally make our ‘to do’ lists have slipped off or been edged out. We’ve been bombarded with health news, learnt a new lingo of PCR tests and RATs. We’ve been vaccinated and boosted, had COVID, and recovered from COVID. More than ever, we’ve wondered about that tickle in our throat… weighed up our wellness.

For many of us, health has been so front of mind that part of our personal health care has fallen off the radar: health checks.

The 2022 Jean Hailes National Women’s Health Survey revealed that these important appointments have taken a backseat. Nearly one in three women have not visited their dentist in the past 12 months because of the pandemic. One in five women have missed a health check with their GP, and cancer screenings have also been impacted.

According to Jean Hailes GP Dr Amanda Newman, health checks are one of the most important ways you can take care of your body and your health. That’s why we’re kicking off Women’s Health Week by bringing health checks into the spotlight.

This week is all about getting back on track and taking the time to put yourself first.

Nearly one in three women have not visited their dentist in the past 12 months because of the pandemic.
One in five women have missed a health check with their GP.

What’s stopping you?

If you’re fearing judgement from your doctor about an overdue health check, Dr Newman says she’s never disappointed or angry with patients for delaying their checks. “As doctors, we’re on your side. We want to put you in the best position possible for good health.”

For other women, lack of time, lack of urgency or fear of the test results are the reasons behind their delay. However, as Dr Newman reminds us, the benefits of these appointments and screenings are far-reaching.

“Not only do health checks help your doctor diagnose health conditions such as high blood pressure, they can also reveal early warning signs of several other conditions. In this way, a health check can be the first step in doing something about a health issue before it really becomes an issue,” she says.

If you’re still feeling hesitant and unmotivated to make that appointment, consider taking a support person along, or set up a ‘health check challenge’ with your family or friendship group with a reward for those who tick off the tasks.

Are your checks up to date?

Now you might be wondering which women’s health checks you need and whether you’re up to date.

Check out the health checks poster below and get back on track this Women’s Health Week or make an appointment with your GP to discuss a health check plan that’s right for you.

Watercolour illustrations of Billy Buttons, a native Australian plant.

Words by Jess Gleeson. Illustrations by Tam Bower.

Published September 2022

This article is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health gratefully acknowledges the support of the Australian Government.

© Jean Hailes for Women’s Health 2022

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