It’s Women’s Health Week. Women in your 20s, get healthier with one, or all, of the following steps. Start the conversation at your next well-woman visit with the checklist below.
A well-woman visit is a yearly preventive checkup with your doctor. It’s a time to check in on how you’re doing, how you’d like to be doing and what changes you can make to reach your health goals. In addition to talking with your doctor or nurse about your health, you may also need certain vaccines and medical tests. Don’t worry. You won’t need every test every year.
Right now a yearly well-woman visit won’t cost you anything extra if you already have health insurance. (This could change if the new administration is successful in its attempts to repeal and replace all aspects of the Affordable Care Act.) Most private health plans cover certain preventive care benefits, including a yearly well-woman visit, without charging a copay, coinsurance or making you meet your deductible. If you don’t have insurance, you can still see a doctor or nurse for free or low-cost at a local health center.
It’s easy to say you’re going to eat healthy, quit smoking or start exercising, but it’s much harder to do it. Get started with the personalized recommendations at myhealthfinder.
- Eat healthy. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov tips to get you started
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity
- Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Get help to quit or don’t start smoking
- Limit alcohol use to one drink or less each day
- Don’t use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike and wear protective gear for other sports
- Wear a seatbelt in cars
- Don’t text while driving
- Take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid
Talk to the doctor about:
- Whether you plan to have children in the next year or the right birth control for you
- Your weight, diet and physical activity level
- Your tobacco and alcohol use
- Any violence in your life
- Depression and any other mental health concerns
- Your family health history, especially of cancer
- Protecting yourself from the sun and the hazards of tanning
- Tests for blood pressure, cholesterol
- Vaccines for flu hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- HPV (26 and younger)
- Pap smear (21 and older)
- Sexually transmitted infections (including chlamydia and gonorrhea tests for women 24 and younger). Don’t assume this is a standard part of your well-woman visit. It’s not
If you are pregnant, prenatal care can also be a well-woman visit. There are also certain tests during pregnancy to check your and your baby’s health. Visit the Women’s Health pregnancy section to learn what you can do before, during and after pregnancy to give your baby a healthy start in life and to take care of yourself, too.
Don’t ignore the health of your hair. You can take a lot of risks your 20s, when your hair is at its most productive. The growth period in this stage of your life could be as long as six years, where you will grow strong hair with plenty of length as your hair continues to produce itself. But don’t overdo it with heat styling, bad shampoos and conditioners or drastic color changes.
This is the most important decade for your skin. It is at its healthiest, with great collagen support. And because any skin damage isn’t showing yet, you still have a youthful glow. If you’re bothered by the occasional acne breakout—that’s the number one complaint among women this decade, by the way—avoid dehydrating products that strip your skin of its natural oils. Make sure your moisturizer has SPF 15 or 20 and apply it to your face, neck and chest.