Aug 29, 2023

Are you up to date with your health checks?

Do you ever feel like life gets so busy, you forget the important stuff? We get it. But despite how hectic your schedule gets, what’s most important is your health. Yes, that means getting good sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising and looking after your mental health. But it also means keeping up to date with your health checks. Let’s discuss four health checks you need to know about - breast check, cervical screening test, skin check and sexual health check - and how to stay on top of them.

Breast check

The best thing about a breast check is how easy it is - you can do it yourself! All you have to do is look for any changes to their usual shape and colour, any discharge from the nipple, and any redness, rash or swelling. For what you can’t see, remember to also do a physical check. This involves feeling and massaging your breasts with your hands for any lumps, pain, or skin that is unusual, like skin that is dimpled. Some ways to feel your breasts are under the shower so the skin is more slippery, lying down or just standing upright. Remember not just to feel the breast but also your collarbones, armpits, and stomach. Try to do a self-check once a month. Also keep in mind that for people over 50, a breast x-ray screening (aka a mammogram) is recommended every two years.

If you do feel a lump, rather than panic, stay calm and don’t jump to conclusions. Lumps don’t always equal breast cancer - they could be benign lumps or cysts, which are quite common. Just make sure you schedule a breast examination with your doctor to get to the bottom of it. The same goes for any other symptoms we listed above; be on the safe side and seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Cervical screening test

Cervical screening tests used to be known as ‘Pap smears’, but a few years ago the test was improved and given a name change. The cervical screening test looks for signs of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common infection linked to the development of cervical cancer.

As awkward as it may sound, getting a cervical screening test is easy and can be life-saving. Tests are recommended every 5 years once you turn 25, and there are 2 ways to undertake it. With a GP, the test involves gently inserting a metal or plastic tool (called a speculum) into your vagina, inspecting your cervix and collecting a sample of cells with a swab to be reviewed by a lab. It only lasts a few minutes and may feel uncomfortable, like a pinch or pressure, but it shouldn't be painful. 

And if you don’t wanna do that, you can always do it yourself! There’s now a new self-collection option for cervical screening. This involves receiving a sample testing kit from your healthcare professional, who will give you proper instructions on how to do it. Essentially, though, the self-check involves inserting a swab inside your vagina, rotating gently for about 30 seconds, and then sending the swab for testing. Easy as!

Skin check

We all know how important SPF is, but another important way to avoid skin cancers is to undertake regular skin checks. This means, once a month, inspecting your whole body for any new or changed spots, be it freckles, moles, or anything in between. If you notice any changes, check further with your doctor. 

Also, keep an eye out for skin cancer pop-up clinics over the summer. You can swim at the beach and stay on top of your health at the same time. 

Sexual health check

Sexual health checks test for a range of STIs, including HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea. A sexual health check can only be performed by a doctor or specialist, and how often you should be tested varies based on individual circumstances, so be sure to ask your doctor. 

There isn’t a one-and-done sexual health check. Sometimes, it can just be a urine sample, blood test or throat swab, and other times your doctor may need to inspect your genitals or collect anal or vaginal swabs. 

One way to ensure you keep up to date with all your health checks is to add recurring dates to your calendar. It’ll remember so you don’t have to! What you should remember is to put you - and your health - first! If you're ever concerned about anything to do with your health, book an appointment with a medical professional.

Love, Libra x

Essity makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.


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