Have you had or are you due a midlife health check? It's so easy to forget what we need to do to safeguard our long term well-being but midlife is an important time for reviewing our health and particularly as a woman.
The NHS offers free health checks every five years to men and women between the age of 40 and 74 to assess their likely risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease or diabetes. A two stage process, the first is a fasting blood test to measure your cholesterol level and blood glucose. The second is an appointment to discuss the results and your lifestyle in more detail and if necessary to devise ways of making changes to proactively improve your long term health.
How much do you weigh? How big is your waist? Have you ever smoked? How much do you drink? What is your blood pressure? What is your family health history? The information gathered is not only used to review your physical health status in its entirety but is also fed into an online programme to give you an overall score on your heart health.
The review is a comprehensive health MOT and is one which should not be ignored.
I turned 50 in February of 2017 and thereafter received a constant stream of correspondence from my GP about all the checks on offer.
Prior to this my last health review was actually at the age of 40. I was working at the time and benefited from the BUPA well woman check through my company's health insurance. Since then I have religiously attended the women's health screenings offered to me over the years but have undergone nothing more comprehensive in the last decade and count myself lucky that aside from a burst appendix in my mid 40's I have never had any significant cause for concern.
There is no denying that midlife is a period of monumental change for a woman and there is a need to embrace those changes and adapt accordingly.
To be honest I don't do change very well and there have been some areas of my midlife status I have found harder to accept than others.
I don't want to fall into that bracket of women that worry about their looks but the honest truth is that despite my best intentions on turning 50 some physical changes have irked me. Why? Well I suppose they signify a loss of youth, resilience and all that I have learnt to know and love about myself and more importantly what I have quite simply been used to until now.
Does that make me weak or superficial? Maybe. No one likes to admit to their faults but how can I spend my days telling my teens not to worry about their looks and to be accepting of who and and what they are on the inside and not the outside if I am suddenly so self-critical of my own appearance?
Appearances however can be deceptive and despite bemoaning my increasing waist size I consider myself to be generally fit and healthy and certainly embraced being fifty and fabulous with vigour in the early days of my fifth decade.
Health, however, is not just a physical state. It is about more than the packaging for want of a different expression and the absence of disease, it is about the inner mechanics too, our mental and social well-being.
For me midlife also came with issues surrounding my mood and whilst reviewing my exercise regime helped to improve that, there was more to it so I sought help to review my hormones as I entered that peri-menopausal phase.
My fluctuating hormones as it turned out had a lot to answer for including a lengthy period of insomnia which of course was also having a knock-on effect on my mood. With the help of my bio-identical hormone therapy these areas are now almost a year on improving for sure.
So where am I now? Well fast approaching 51 a lot of boxes have been ticked over the last year and I have completed all my health check appointments and sitting here with another New Year ahead I am so glad for those checks. Issues have been thrown up I need to address and as it happens my waist size is the least of my worries and more of that later.
Ladies we need to keep on top of our health and those reminders are there for a reason. Don't ignore them, don't put them off until another day follow them up and if you haven't had a call to action yet then be proactive and ask your GP for one.