doctor consultation

Life can get busy and at times we forget to love our body – which can in turn have a direct impact on our well being and health. So, as part of our ‘Love Your Body’ theme this week, today we are going to look at the topic of two very important annual check-ups. Health check-ups are not always pleasant – but if you want to stay healthy, they are necessary.

The two we will focus on for today’s article are the Gynaecological and Skin Cancer checks:

1. Gynaecologial check-ups – why, when, and how long it takes

Perhaps most women would place a gynaecological exam at the top of the “Most Unpleasant Check-ups”: for a lot of us women this is somehow embarrassing, somehow disturbing.

But we do it anyway, don’t we? Because, just like most women, we’re sure you understand the importance of having these check-ups at least once a year.

Why are gynaecological exams important to your health?

Every woman should learn to love her body, because it is a piece of art – but like any piece of art, it needs to be maintained. And we all know that the best cure is prevention (it’s a cliche, but it is as true as it gets!).

So in order to prevent any illnesses or health conditions, it is advised that you take 10 minutes of your time (that’s how long this exam takes, really) and go see a doctor.

There are some conditions that have no symptoms whatsoever, but a doctor can immediately see them and advise treatment. So even if you think you’re all good and healthy, the reality might be different – have the exam and know for sure.

Gynae check-up – more than just the Pap test

The Papanicolau exam [‘pap test’ or ‘pap smear’] is one of the most important exams one can take to prevent gynaecologic cancer (cervical cancer). But a gynaecological exam does not comprise just the Pap test.

During the examination your gynaecologist will also check your breasts for lumps and they will also check for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) such as syphilis, HIV, herpes, gonorrhoea or bacterial vaginosis.

So while you’re in the examination room the doctor can also perform tests to let you know if you can have children or not and, if not, they can advise medical treatments to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

All in all, gynaecological check-ups should be part of a woman’s lifestyle, and it should not be regarded as a burden. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a gynaecologist, have patience; in time you will get used to your doctor and you will also learn to trust them.

2. Skin cancer check-ups – why, when, and how long it takes

The most common misconception about skin cancer is that it cannot appear during winter. While it is true that your skin is better protected from UV rays during winter (because we’re covering our bodies under layers of clothes), skin cancer may still appear in cold seasons as an “aftermath” of summer.

How often should you have a skin cancer check-up?

Skin cancer is not a condition that spurs up overnight. Sometimes it takes months for skin leisures to develop into cancer, so it is important that you perform a complete skin check-up at home once every three months.

How long does skin cancer examination take?

A complete skin cancer self-check-up shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. You don’t have to go to the doctor for it. Just stand naked in front of a mirror and look at your skin. Ask a friend or a relative to perform a check on your back and the areas of your body you yourself cannot inspect.

The more often you do skin check-ups, the better you will know the signs of your skin, and you will be able to pinpoint any new lumps, dots, or stains.

It is advised that you visit a doctor at least once a year for a professional examination. If you haven’t had any moles on your skin, the exam takes about 10 minutes, but the more moles you have, the longer the exam. If there are any suspicious growths on your skin the doctor can perform a biopsy and see what those growths are.

Tip: Ask the dermatologist to teach you the right way to perform a skin examination at home.

Common types of skin cancer

The most common types of skin cancer are melanoma (which is also the most dangerous), SCC and BCC. For more information, click here.

The most common place for skin cancer in men is on their backs, while it has been noticed that in women melanoma tends to appear on their legs. So pay increased attention to these areas when you are doing your regular skin check-up.

To keep your skin safe from UV rays use a 30+ SPF cream in summer. During the winter season wear the SPF cream on your face, ears, neck and chest (the areas that are not covered in clothes), and also use a SPF lip balm.

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