Most of us only pay close attention to our health in later life. But good health isn’t something that just happens. It’s a set of lifestyle choices that we make every single day. What to eat, how much to exercise or when to go for a routine checkup. Collectively, it’s these small choices that over a period of many years gives us the sum total of good health. So even in your twenties, it’s not too early to start that journey. Here are some things to think about:
1. Well-woman exams
Stay on top of your health with a well-woman exam. Separate from a general checkup, this exam focuses on your gynecological health. Your doctor may carry out a pelvic exam and breast exam, both of which can help detect problems before they start.
2. Sexual health
Whether you’re in an exclusive relationship or have had multiple partners over a period of time, sexual health is an area that requires your attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the three most common sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. In 2018, the total number of cases of all three diseases reached an all-time high.
Left untreated many STI’s can have long term consequences such as:
- An increased risk of giving or getting HIV.
- Long term abdominal pain.
- An inability to get pregnant.
STI’s do not always have obvious symptoms so it’s important to get tested. Doctors recommend routine testing every year. But for those involved with multiple partners more regular screening is recommended.
3. Mental health
Mental health is an area frequently overlooked. While it’s important to take care of your body, it’s equally important to take care of your mental health.
- For those times when you’re going through a difficult patch, speak to someone about it. Whether it’s a family member, friend or a counselor, talking about your emotions can be cathartic.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work or school, reach out and ask for help. Look for resources that are available to you as a student, as an employee or as a patient at your doctors clinic.
- Take time off when necessary. Recognize that sometimes you need to take a break or scale back.
- Remember to schedule ‘me time’ into your weekly activities.
4. Eat right and exercise
It is worth repeating the importance of trying to stick to a healthy diet -lots of fruits, veggies and a limited intake of saturated fats. Your body will thank you for it today and years from now with lower cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease or diabetes.
Furthermore, integrate exercise into your day. Walk or cycle to work, try swimming as a form of relaxation or consider early-morning workouts as a nice way to start your morning.
For women thinking about having children now (or in the future) consider the various forms of contraception that are appropriate for you right now. This usually changes over the course of your life but it’s important to know what options are available to you.
- Discuss your contraceptive options with your doctor.
- Schedule a pre-pregnancy check up when you’re ready to start a family.
- If you have any health concerns about becoming pregnant, this is also something to discuss with your doctor. The sooner you do it, the better.
Your twenties can be a turbulent time. And with so much going on in your life it’s easy to forget those little health issues that crop up. But invest in your health right now. It’s an investment that’s worth the effort.
- Centers for Disease Control. The State of STDs – Infographic. https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/infographic.htm
- New CDC Report: STDs Continue to Rise in the U.S.https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2019/2018-STD-surveillance-report-press-release.html