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Health checks throughout your life

You will need different health checks throughout your life, depending on your age, risk factors, medical background and family history.

It’s recommended you have certain checks, regardless of your age. For example:

  • have a skin check every year
  • have an eye test every two years, or as needed
  • have a hearing test if you notice any hearing loss
  • have a dental check and clean every year (some dentists recommend every six months).
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Heart health checks

It’s recommended you have heart health checks every two years between the ages of 45 and 79. People with diabetes should have checks from the age of 35 and First Nations people should have checks from the age of 30.

Breast self-checks

It’s important to know how your breasts look and feel so you can act quickly if you notice any changes.

Changes you should look for include:

  • new lumps in your breast or armpit
  • thickening or swelling
  • changes in the shape of your breast
  • changes in the size of your breast
  • changes in the colour of your breast
  • changes in your nipple
  • discharge from your nipple.

Learn more about breast self-checks.

Health conditions

Ask your doctor about other checks if you are at risk of any health conditions, including cancer.

Breast cancer screening

Breast cancer screening (mammogram) is a safe X-ray of your breasts to check for cancer before there are signs or symptoms. Screening and early detection of cancer gives you the best chance of effective treatment.

BreastScreen Australia is the national breast cancer screening program for people who have no obvious symptoms of breast cancer. It’s funded through Medicare with no out-of-pocket costs.

To learn more about the BreastScreen program, visit the BreastScreen Australia website.

You may prefer to have a breast screen mammogram with a private service provider (i.e. outside of the BreastScreen program). You will have to pay out-of-pocket costs for this service. Your doctor can recommend a private service provider near you.

When should you have a mammogram?

Under 40

Screening is not recommended, as younger women have denser breast tissue that makes the results unreliable.

Aged 40 to 49

You can contact BreastScreen Australia to have a free screening mammogram every two years, but you won’t be sent invitations or reminders.

Aged 50 to 74

It’s recommended you have a mammogram every two years. BreastScreen Australia will send you invitations and reminders.

Aged over 74

You can still have a free mammogram through BreastScreen, but you won’t receive an invitation or reminders. Contact BreastScreen Australia or your doctor for more information.

Breast screening for transgender people (aged 50 to 74)

  • Trans women – it’s recommended you have a screen every two years if you have been taking hormones (e.g. oestrogen) for five years or more.
  • Trans men – it’s recommended you have a screen every two years if you haven’t had chest surgery.
  • Non-binary and gender diverse people – it’s recommended you have screening if you were presumed female at birth and haven’t had chest surgery.

For more information, visit the BreastScreen Australia website.

Learn more about breast health.

Cervical screening

Since the introduction of a national screening program in the 1990s and a national HPV vaccination program in 2007, cases of cervical cancer in Australia have decreased.

The National Cervical Screening Program is for people aged 25 to 74. It aims to prevent cervical cancer through regular screening. The Cervical Screening Test (like a pap smear) checks for human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical cancer.

You need a Cervical Screening Test if you:

  • are a woman or person with a cervix
  • are aged 25 to 74
  • have ever had sexual genital contact with another person, regardless of gender or sexual identity.

You need to have a test every five years between the ages of 25 and 74.

For more information, visit the National Cervical Screening Program website.

How is the cervical screening test done?

You can see your healthcare provider to take a sample for testing, or you may prefer to take your own sample (self-collection) at the health centre or clinic.
If your healthcare provider does the test, they will use a plastic or metal instrument (speculum) and small brush to take a sample of cells from your cervix. If you do the test, you will use a swab to take a sample of cells from your vagina.

Self-collection is just as safe and accurate as having a healthcare provider take a sample.

Read our fact sheet about the cervical screening test and self-collection.

Learn more about cervical cancer.


It’s recommended you:

  • have an immunisation review before travelling overseas
  • have a flu vaccination every year
  • have Covid-19 boosters as recommended.

Sexual health checks

If you are sexually active it’s important to have regular sexual health checks. Your doctor may:

  • ask questions about your medical history
  • ask questions about your sexual history, including the type of sex you’ve had and who you’re having sex with
  • do an examination of your vulva and vagina (with your consent)
  • do a cervical screening test if it’s due
  • test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), for example, blood tests, urine tests or swabs.

If you have an STI, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.

During a sexual health check, you can also talk to your doctor about any sexual problems you are having and ask about contraception.

When should you have a sexual health check?

If you think you might have an STI, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. If you get a diagnosis and start treatment early, you may reduce the risk of developing more health problems in the future.

A sexual health check is recommended if you:

  • think you have an STI
  • have a new sexual partner
  • have symptoms such as unusual discharge, pain or itching
  • know your partner has an STI
  • have had unprotected sex or there were some risks to your health during sexual activity
  • are concerned about your sexual health.

Talk to your doctor about your situation and ask how often you should get checked.

You can visit your doctor or a sexual health clinic for a sexual health check. If you need help finding an LGBTQIA+ friendly doctor, visit the DocDir website.

Read more about what happens when you go for an STI check.

Learn more about sex and sexual health.

Mental health

See your doctor if you have symptoms of anxiety that make it hard for you to do things you want to do. For example, if you think about your fears a lot, have panic attacks or avoid places that might make you feel anxious.

Bone health check

A bone health check includes the assessment of risk factors for osteoporosis, such as family history and calcium and vitamin D intake. A bone check should be done every year after menopause and after breaking a bone (e.g. from a fall).

There are different tests to check your bone health.

If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, your doctor may give you a referral to get a bone density scan called a ‘DXA scan’.

A DXA scan is a special X-ray that measures your bone mineral density. It can also be used to:

  • confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis
  • check how much bone loss has happened
  • check if any treatment for osteoporosis is working.

Blood tests may also be used to check calcium and vitamin D levels, as well as your thyroid function. Problems with your thyroid can lead to osteoporosis.

You can also check your bone health with this Know Your Bones self-assessment tool.

Read more about bone health.

Bowel cancer screening test

If you’re aged between 50 and 74, you can get a free bowel screening test every two years. The Australian Government may lower the starting age for the program to 45 years.

You can do the test at home. You collect two tiny samples from two different poos and send them in the mail to a laboratory. You and your doctor usually get the results within four weeks.

If there are tiny amounts of blood detected in your poo sample, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy. This doesn’t mean you have cancer. Internal haemorrhoids or polyps in the colon can cause bleeding.

Some types of polyps can develop into cancer over many years, so it’s good to have these checked and removed.

Learn more about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Read more about bowel health.

This con­tent has been reviewed by a group of med­ical sub­ject mat­ter experts, in accor­dance with Jean Hailes pol­i­cy.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2018
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cervical screening in Australia 2019
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice. 9th edn, updated. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2018.
Last updated: 
19 March 2024
Last reviewed: 
13 January 2024

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