Mammograms, pap smears, and even a trip to the dentist – Let’s be honest, most of us will willingly embrace any excuse when it comes to delaying these annual pit stops.
And apparently the crazy year that is 2020 with all its COVID focus has resulted in women doing just that.
But as the Prime Minister’s wife Jenny Morrison recently implored as part of Women’s Health Week, women still need to look after their health.
On September 10, Mrs Morrison took to video, urging women to book their annual check-ups, noting data indicated women’s visits to doctors were down significantly this year right across the country.
Reflecting that 2020 “has been such a crazy year” and a “real blur”, Mrs Morrison acknowledged there had been “so much loss, disruption and sadness”.
“During this time, we’ve all been trying to do the right thing. We’re wearing our masks, we’re washing our hands, and maintaining our distance to keep ourselves and others healthy,” she said.
“But there’s some things that we might have put off that are really important as women and that’s something we really need to pay attention to.”
According to the Jean Hailes Foundation, a year of social distancing has had a dramatic impact on screening for potential health problems like cervical cancer and breast cancer.
“Data from a major private laboratory, reflective of national trends, showed that from February to April 2020 – a month after the COVID-19 outbreak – cervical screening rates fell by 67 per cent,” they stated.
“By May, cervical screening rates had improved, but were still down by 49 per cent from pre-COVID rates.
“While levels across most of Australia were returning to normal in August, rates of cervical screening in Victoria were still down by 38 per cent compared to pre-COVID rates.”
And that’s just pap smears. Those statics would likely be mirrored when it came to mammograms and other annual health checks.
“Even in telehealth, GPs are reporting that female face-to-face visits are down as well,” Mrs Morrison added.
“Call the doctor, book that appointment. Don’t let it be the year where we say, ‘I’ll put that off’. Because your health is so important to you and those around you. So, make the call,” she said.
The Jean Hailes Foundation for women’s health has a great guide on what tests women should be having regularly depending on their age. You can find that here, along with a whole host of advice on healthy lifestyle choices.
In the meantime, Mrs Morrison and the Jean Hailes Foundation are urging women to see Women’s Health Week as the opportunity to refocus on their health and book the appointments they need.
“Remember, health checks don’t have to stop because of COVID. And if you’re in lockdown, medical tests are a permitted reason for leaving your home,” the foundation notes.
You can view Jenny Morrison’s Women’s Health Week message here.