National Women’s Health Week: Take Stock of Your Health, Head To Toe
By Shannon Wagner, Community Engagement Intern
How well do you know your body?
Sure, you could pick yourself out of a line up, but can you say with certainty that your body isn’t trying to tell you something? When was the last time you took stock of your health?
It’s National Women’s Health Week, and this year’s theme is “It’s your time” — time to make your health and wellness a top priority so that you can be the best possible you. We’re posting as part of the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference Blogger Challenge. Read other posts on this topic and join the discussion here.
We found some easy self-exams you can do to keep your health in check. Before or after a shower, as you get ready for work or get ready for bed, take a few moments to get up close and personal with yourself in the mirror.
1. Skin Cancer — The most common form of cancer, skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells, often brought on by excessive sun exposure or tanning. According to the experts at SkinCancer.org, there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than there are new cases of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. When checking moles, birthmarks, or lesions, keep A.B.C.D.E in mind:
- A stands for asymmetry.
- B is for border irregularity (frilly or poorly defined edges).
- C is for color variation (especially black, tan, brown, white, or red).
- D is for diameter larger than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser).
- E is for an evolving lesion — one that changes size, shape, shades of color, or has surface bleeding.
Don’t forget to check between your toes and on the bottoms of your feet. For those hard to see areas, grab a hand mirror. (Don’t be shy!)
2. Breast Cancer — Women of any age can be at risk, though breast cancer is more common among women over 50. Monthly self-exams can help with early detection. The best time to do the exam is one week after your period, or if you’re nursing, after you breastfeed or pump. (If you no longer menstruate, you can simply pick any day out of the month that’s easy to remember.) Keep in mind, even if you’re conducting self-exams at home, you still should schedule regular check-ups and mammograms with your doctor.
3. Head-to-Toe Health — Many of us might already be familiar with how to check for skin or breast cancer, but how do you know if you’re having kidney issues? Or if your cholesterol is too high, or if you have a thyroid disorder? Did you know that symptoms can manifest in your fingernails or on your eyelids? Give yourself a head-to-toe screening with this Women’s Health slideshow. They’ve compiled tips on what to look for when checking yourself, as well as explanations of possible causes of any irregularities.
Regular self-exams can help you spot symptoms of potentially serious issues, but remember, online self-diagnosis isn’t foolproof. If you find something peculiar or worrisome, make an appointment with your doctor.
Now spread the word about National Women’s Health Week to the women in your life, and together you can take charge of your health.
(You can also check-in those health and fitness feats together! Tell us how you took charge of your health!)