When I was a child, my parents were in complete control of my health care. Now that I’m an adult, I’m not always sure what sorts of things I should be doing to take care of my body. I know I should eat well and stay active, but what else am I supposed to be doing to stay healthy?
Experimental Wifery brings you an “Owner’s Manual” for your body: how to take care of yourself–inside and out–and where to go to understand yourself better.
The best way to keep your body running like a dream is to get routine exams from the medical professionals who know how to take care of you.* Here are a few suggested regular maintenance exams women should consider:
- Dental cleaning, twice a year. A dental cleaning is not only important to keep up a beautiful smile, but a chance for your dentist to look out for your overall well-being. He or she can check for different kinds of cancers, oral side effects of other health problems, and even solve issues like migraines.
- Annual physical. Many people don’t get a physical between their eighteenth birthdays and their fiftieth, but an annual physical is an important time to check in with your doctor. Your physician’s office is the most likely place to catch health problems like high HDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, and high blood-pressure early, before they do any real damage. Plus, you’ll be glad to have a strong relationship with your internist if you get sick.
- Annual gynecological exam and pap test. Don’t wait until you have a problem—experts recommend you get your first pelvic exam two years after you become sexually active or when you turn 21, whichever happens first. Some women ask their general practitioners to do their annual gynecological exam, but I choose not to. First, I’d rather go to a physician who specializes in medicine for women. And second, as a woman of child-bearing age, I want to establish a rapport with the doctor who may eventually deliver my children.
- Annual mole screening. Although this annual exam flies under the radar, it’s a good idea to start checking in with a dermatologist each year after you turn thirty—earlier if you have a family history of skin conditions. A dermatologist will examine your skin, paying special attention to freckles, moles, or skin growths, to catch problems like skin cancer while they are still treatable. (Most skin cancers are now!)
- Vision screening, every one or two years. People with normal vision and healthy eyes should still check in with an ophthalmologist every two years. For those of us with poor vision, most doctors suggest an annual exam to check your prescription and the health of your eyes.
- Other diagnostic tests. Talk to your doctor about regular screening for other health conditions, especially if you’re fifty or older.
For Dings and Scratches
After you’ve taken care of your body’s interior, spend some time taking care of the exterior. While inner beauty is what really matters, a well-maintained appearance can help you feel confidence and self-respect. Here are a few suggestions about regular visits and professionals who can help keep you looking beautiful.
- Manicures and pedicures, every two to three weeks. Maintaining perfect nails takes work, but you can do most of that work yourself at home. Consider starting out with a high-quality, professional mani-pedi to get you off to a clean start. If you don’t want to maintain your nail health yourself, plan for a manicure every two to three weeks.
- Massages, once a month. Massages can be a special treat, but they can also be a great way to loosen up chronically tight muscles, reduce tension, and relieve stress. Schedule a therapeutic massage about once a month. Remember that a massage doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars—keep down costs by finding a massage therapist who works without all the expensive frills of a high-cost spa. If you don’t want to pay for massages, find more budget friendly ways to relax and use exercise, stretching, a good posture to protect the muscles in your neck and back.
- Facials, every one to three months. The better care you take of your face, the more payoff you’ll see every time you give it a little extra pampering. For the best results, pay for or give yourself a facial once every one to three months. Invest money in high-quality products to spread out the time between visits.
- Hair cuts as needed. You don’t really need a cut every six weeks or risk split ends, especially if you have long hair or you’re trying to grow it out. Ask your stylist how often you need to visit to keep up your ‘do. Spread out visits by washing your hair only every two or three days and keeping it well-conditioned.
How Things Work
The best way to keep your body in good shape is to understand how it works and how to take care of it. I highly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It is the best guidebook to a woman’s I have ever read, explaining how the reproductive cycle works in intimate detail and why our bodies do all the weird things they do. Understanding your female body adds to your sense of empowerment and pride about who and what you are.
Don’t forget that Experimental Wifery doesn’t claim to be a medical website. Our ideas are just suggestions. Follow up with your doctor about what’s best for you.
Keep following along with Twelve Months to a Better woman and January, our month of self-care. Be sure you check out the first post in this series to get involved.