This post about women’s health is sponsored by Atrium Health Women’s Care, my personal health-care provider here in Charlotte. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
This is a topic I feel very strongly about: women’s health! I haven’t written about women’s health in some time, but I know so many of you found my blog because of my past posts on hormones, fertility and even pregnancy. I’ve been very open with my struggles and journey, and I’ve done that in hopes that it helps others. And today, we’re going to talk about a few things that every woman in her 30s should be doing for her health.
I hope you enjoy reading this post, and I also hope you think about whether you need to take action on any of the following items, because you and your health truly matter.
Five things every woman in her 30s should be doing for her health
Here we go …
1. Make sure you know your family’s health history.
Have you ever noticed that every doctor and every doctor’s office intake form asks you questions about your relatives and their health? Why do they do this? They do this because your risks for certain illnesses and conditions greatly increase if other people in your family have been diagnosed with the same illness or condition before.
According to Atrium Health experts, if one of your first-degree relatives has had breast cancer, your risk doubles, and that’s something you want to be aware of. There are a few other issues that are commonly genetic, like cardiovascular disease, thyroid problems and even colon concerns.
For women in their 30s (like me, for now), we absolutely need to know the details on whether our parents and grandparents have histories with major conditions.
Personally, I know that cancer runs in my family, and yet I’ve never really been crystal clear with who and what. I recently made a note on my phone with my family’s health history (after talking to my mom), and while this wasn’t a fun exercise, it was a worthy one. I can now accurately share this information with my doctor as needed.
2. Schedule and stay consistent with your annual OB/GYN visit.
If you’re a mom or caretaker, I’d like to bet that your own personal doctor’s appointments take a backseat to the appointments you book for your children and family. And that’s a very common thing. But you shouldn’t only be proactively seeking your own women’s health care when you’re pregnant or dealing with a health issue. Routine visits can keep you healthy, and they are important.
As you move past 40, you may need to get mammograms, colon screenings and even bone-density screenings, and your doctor can tell you when it’s time for all of that. However, in your 30s, you should at least be making time for your annual OB/GYN visit and perhaps an annual primary-care physical too.
Even if you don’t require a pap smear (these days, a pap is not an annual thing, unless you are high-risk, so typically, you only need one every three years), your annual OB/GYN visit still includes a breast exam, a pelvic exam, as well as doing general medical readings like your blood pressure, weight and heart-rate. These markers of health are necessary metrics, and it’s good to have a medical professional take a look at you at least once a year to assess them. This annual OB/GYN visit is also a chance to discuss the regularity of your cycle, whether you’re experiencing any other issues and whether you feel like you need additional care. You can also ask your doctor to teach you how to do a home breast exam, so you can stay consistent with those every month between your doctor’s visits.
Need to schedule your next visit? Call your doctor today and book it. And if you’re in the Charlotte area, may I recommend Atrium Health Women’s Care. I’ve been under their care for more than two years, since I moved here, and they’ve always taken excellent care of me, both through routine women’s health, primary care and even through three miscarriages and D&E procedures. Our whole family is part of the Atrium Health network (including my mom), and we’re all currently quite happy and healthy.
3. Monitor your menstrual cycle and seek help if anything changes.
Periods. Nobody likes to talk about them, but about half the world is getting them. It’s very important to know, as a woman, that the regularity of your menstrual cycle can be a significant marker of your overall health. And I know from conversations with many women, that unless they’re trying to get pregnant, their period is an afterthought, and it shouldn’t be that way.
This is a topic near-and-dear to my heart, as I went through a very tough process of regaining my own menstrual cycle from years of over-exercising. I had something called hypothalamic amenorrhea, and it took about a year to recover from that condition in order to get pregnant naturally. Because I have that history under my belt, I know just how much your cycle matters, whether or not you have plans to get pregnant or not. It’s not just about fertility, it’s about health. When I wasn’t getting a regular period, it was a sign my body wasn’t doing well, and I know that now.
Personally, these days, I track my period on a free app on my phone (I use Flo, but there are many others), in order to check how long my cycles are and even what symptoms I experience before bleeding occurs. I know that if my cycle starts to change, I need to take a look at my lifestyle to see if anything has shifted out of the healthy range. Too much exercise, too little food, too much stress and even illness can alter the length of your cycle.
If you’re wondering, the average woman’s cycle ranges between 21 to 45 days, and yours should probably fall within that. Of course, it’s important to remember that your cycle can be affected by your birth control methods, so discuss that with your doctor.
If you’d like a little bit more information on what you should know about periods, Atrium Health has this excellent article with facts about what age females can expect to start their periods, when to seek help from a doctor if your period is missing and more.
But at a minimum, make sure you know your numbers on your period so you have a baseline knowledge of whether your cycle is consistent or irregular, and most importantly, whether it changes.
4. Assess your lifestyle and habits and begin to make improvements as needed.
Are you totally sedentary? Are you overweight or underweight? Are you a smoker? Are you overusing caffeine or alcohol too frequently? Are you skimping on sleep? Are you chronically stressed? Are you relying on too many processed foods to get by? Are you holding onto emotional baggage from past trauma that’s bringing you down?
Oftentimes, we know what we’re doing wrong and we think we have all the time in the world to course correct. But once you’re in your 30s, it’s time to get real with your daily habits and lifestyle choices. While it may not be easy to fix everything at once, it’s important to try to get a little healthier in the areas where you’re really struggling.
Maybe that looks like starting your day with a walk instead of going straight to coffee and your computer? Maybe that looks like seeking the help of a registered dietitian or nutrition coach to help you figure out if you’re eating too much or too little and how to get more nutrients into your day? Maybe that means changing up your social scene if you find yourself engaging in unhealthy activities too often?
It may seem easier to stay the same and keep the same bad habits, but once you start to see improvements in your overall well-being by making healthier choices, you’ll wish you had done it sooner.
If you need guidance from a professional, talk to your doctor about what you’re struggling with, and hopefully they can point you in the right direction for further help. And don’t forget to eat plenty of fruits and veggies and stay hydrated, friend.
5. Wear daily sun protection (even when it’s cloudy) and get your skin checked regularly.
If you always put sunscreen on your kids, but you sometimes forget to put sunscreen on yourself, this is your friendly reminder to step up your sun-protection game.
Whether you have light skin or dark skin, sunscreen should be an essential part of your routine, even on cloudy days. And that’s not only because of the aesthetic benefits of protecting your skin from the sun’s rays, but it’s also because of the health benefits of protecting your skin. Skin cancer, which is when you have abnormal growth of skin cells, can happen to anyone from too much exposure to sunlight and UV rays. In fact, according to Atrium Health experts, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, accounting for more than half of all cancers.
While the type of sun protection you choose is up to you, personally, I prefer mineral sunblock, as opposed to chemical sunscreen. And if I’m out in the sun, you can bet I’ve got it slathered all over me, as well as all over my family. I also like to wear a hat and sunglasses if I’m going to be outside for an extended amount of time, for some extra coverage. If you need some additional tips on sun protection, how to apply your sunscreen and more, check out this sun-protection article by Atrium Health.
In addition to protecting your skin, you need to get it checked. The experts at Atrium Health recommend getting your skin checked annually by a dermatologist. And you should always monitor your own skin at home and seek the help of a doctor if you notice any major changes, in between official checks. Remember, your skin is your biggest organ, and you’ve got to treat it right.
And that concludes our top five!
A little bit more about Atrium Health Women’s Care …
Atrium Health, part of Advocate Health, is the most recognized by “U.S. News & World Report” for maternity care and is home to the top-rated gynecology program in the Charlotte area. And Atrium Health Women’s Care has been serving the Charlotte area for more than 50 years, through physicians, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives.
What I like about Atrium Health Women’s Care is that you can make an appointment with your OB/GYN online in seconds, you can always access all your health information and test results with the touch of a few buttons on your phone or computer — all through the Atrium Health patient portal.
If you’re a woman in North Carolina in need of care, head here to schedule your Atrium Health Women’s Care appointment today.
That’s it! Thank you so much for reading, and please, friend, take care of yourself in your 30s and beyond.
This post is sponsored by Atrium Health Women’s Care. While I was compensated for sharing this post with you, these thoughts and opinions are certainly my own. I’ve been an Atrium Health patient for more than two years and am so pleased with the care I’ve received. Have an amazing day!
Questions of the day for you
What’s one thing you need to take control of in your health?
What’s one area where you know you are doing really well?