The right job in times of uncertainty can be valuable if it offers benefits that go beyond just a monthly pay packet. In addition to a general physical, eye and dental exams, annual checks in your 20s may include screening for:
Women’s cancers: a pelvic exam and Pap smear every three years after the age of 21, as well as breast cancer screening. As women become sexually active, they might find themselves at risk of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
Cholesterol: From the age of 20, get a baseline screening for cholesterol levels and triglycerides if there’s a risk for coronary heart disease.
Blood pressure screening: Because high blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to other complications, it should be checked every two years. Those diagnosed with high blood pressure should also be screened for diabetes.
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Immunisations: Consider the HPV vaccine if you’re not yet 26. An annual flu vaccine, and, if you’ve never had chickenpox, the varicella vaccine.
Thyroid tests: Women at all phases of their lives are more likely than men to experience low thyroid hormone levels. The hormone regulates our metabolism, influencing how our bodies regulate temperature, heart rate and even brain function. As our bodies change with age, it helps to keep tabs on thyroid levels. Women with lower levels of the hormone can benefit from thyroid hormone replacement, so it is worth testing for them if you are likely to develop thyroid disease. If you have a medical history, or notice spikes in your LDL cholesterol level or inexplicable weight gain, do consider getting a test so you can start tracking.
Individually, you can also consider additions such as depression screening, as well as tests related to individual lifestyles, habits and hereditary risk factors. Or, if a wedding is in your plans, consider premarital health screening. Gynaecological complaints (irregular, heavy or painful periods) also benefit from investigations early in life.