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Our Executive Manager Client Engagement and Wellbeing, Jodi Haartsen asked doctors, nurses and our team to give us their top tips on women’s health checks – here is what they said.

  1. Women’s health checks are so often considered “secret women’s business” that we don’t talk to friends and family about it. The more we can normalise it and make it part of the conversation, the easier it will be. It may take bravery to be the first one to bring it up but it is such a relief when it’s out there.
  2. It can be scary to get health checks, what if there is (yet another) thing to deal with, or it’s not something you find easy to talk about? It can be simpler to bury your head in the sand and avoid any losses. Something to fear is a bigger driver – so focusing on the consequences of not doing it can be motivating. Finding a GP you trust can also make the world of difference. Sometimes writing down what you want to say so you have a script when you get there can also be helpful.
  3. Many women report feeling uncomfortable about having a cervical screen. There are options for the tests for cervical screening and over the past few years, the timing and the way tests are done has changed. It’s worth talking to your GP about options available to you.
  4. Make health checks familiar and a habit. My day is always February 14. It ensures I don’t forget – every year same time. It then becomes less of an effort to think about it, and I am always just booked into the GP for a long visit that day. Loving myself is just as important and I have no issues rewarding myself for getting it done.
  5. Keeping your brain healthy is essential in MS. Getting health checks such as blood pressure and blood tests for cholesterol, vitamin D, liver function, diabetes and other screening tests mean that any other conditions that may be impacting your health can be managed effectively.
  6. Understanding why we need to have health checks and how often to have them can be an enabler in having them completed regularly. We need everyone involved in people’s care and support to be discussing the tests women need and to not make assumptions that it’s someone else’s job to explain them.
  7. In Australia, many of the preventative screens are free. GPs or MS nurses often have a wealth of knowledge on how to access the free tests and when and where you need them.
  8. Research has shown that the most common reasons for women delaying or not having health checks are embarrassment, fear or discomfort. Sharing your fears with a close friend or trusted healthcare provider can be a relief, its highly likely they have experienced the same.
  9. For women with MS, it’s common to blame MS for the symptoms they may be experiencing. Excluding possible hormonal, thyroid or other contributors to what seem to be MS symptoms is an important part of the women’s health check. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes, so it’s not always negative to switch doctors or health care professionals occasionally to see what you’re experiencing from a different point of view.
  10. Mums often prioritise the healthcare of their children or loved ones, but not themselves and keep moving it lower on the priority list. Making your appointment straight after the kids can overcome this – that’s where electronic supervision can be handy.

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