It’s Women’s Health Week. Women in your 30s, get healthier with one, or all, of the following steps. Start the conversation at your next well-woman visit with the checklist below.
You may look and feel much as you did a few years ago, but your body starts undergoing changes slowly when you hit your 30s. Your yearly well-woman visit is a good time to check in with your doctor about 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
- Tests for blood pressure, cholesterol
- Vaccines for flu hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- Pap and HPV
- Sexually transmitted infections (Screening for STIs is not a regular part of your well-woman visit. Ask for it.)
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. If you’re in good health, you’ll most likely have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. But note that your fertility starts to decrease in your 30s, especially after age 35. It may take longer to get pregnant, and chances of miscarriage increase as you age. Talk to your health-care professional if you’re having trouble conceiving.
Baby your hair in your 30s. Your prime reproductive years can contribute to a thicker, faster-growing mane. But you lose that extra hair shortly after you give birth. Ease up on styling gels, sprays, lotions and mousses, and massage your scalp while you shampoo to encourage blood circulation.
The first skin changes creep up during this decade. Even if you’ve taken good care of your skin, you may notice fine lines and wrinkles, especially around your eyes and mouth. Those of us with darker skin might see discoloration and uneven skin tone, while our sisters with lighter skin might see brown spots and ruddiness. It’s during your 30s that skin becomes thinner and finer. You start to lose some collagen, and cell turnover begins to slow, making your complexion look dull. You can fix this by exfoliating. If your nighttime regimen includes a retinoid, you’re doing enough. If not (or you have sensitive skin and can’t use a retinoid), add a cleanser, moisturizer or night cream with salicylic or glycolic acid. Continue to use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or 20, but now you’ll need one with antioxidants, like green or white tea, pomegranate or vitamin C to protect your skin from damaging free radicals. Eye cream should become your daily friend. Choose one with hyaluronic acid for extra moisture; for puffiness, use one with caffeine.
You can’t see it, but bone loss begins in your 30s. That can lead to osteoporosis, the bone-thinning disease, later in life. Your muscles may also start to lose tone. Prevent bone and muscle loss and reduce your risk for developing osteoporosis with these steps:
- Stay active, focusing especially on weight-bearing exercises. Make sure you include strength training two to three times a week.
- Eat a calcium-rich diet.
- Talk to a health professional for more information on how to maintain strong bones and to see if you’ll need to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals.