The healthiest you, in your 20s and beyond


We can't deny it: Time passes, and our bodies change. Our day-to-day health is kind of like the weather. Like sunny days or passing storms, colds come and go. So do sniffles, aches and pains, and pimples and blisters. Our overall health, though, is more like the climate. It's an accumulation of lots of different factors - genetics, chance, and the lifestyle choices we make - which has more impact on our lives in the long run.

Some of the factors that affect our health are out of our control, like our family's medical legacy. If your mother or sister has had breast cancer, you might be more likely to have breast cancer, too. Accidents, injuries, and genetically unforeseen conditions can also sideswipe us and set our health off-balance.

But we can control the lifestyle choices we make, and these choices certainly do accumulate and either enrich or endanger the quality of health we enjoy through the years of our lives. Decisions you make, like whether to smoke or not, what sort of foods you eat, and how much physical activity you fit into your life, may make or break your health.

Each one of us is a unique specimen, and the aging process will touch us each in different ways. In general, to be the healthiest you at any age, you will need to understand the ways your body may change. You also need to keep up with a few routine preventive health screenings and integrate beneficial, age-defying habits into your life. Time passes, so make the most of the time you have, no matter what your age.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Your 20s: body basics


No woman in her 20s is exactly like another, and no two women will experience their 20s in the same way. But there are some commonalities and a few things you can count on.

During this decade, women come to know their own bodies better, gaining a deeper understanding of their menstrual cycles and their arousal patterns. Some women experiment with their sexual lifestyle, perhaps taking on more numerous sexual partners than at any other time in their lives. Because of this, women in their 20s have a higher rate of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, than at any other time in their life.

More frequent sexual activity can also put women at risk for more frequent urinary tract infections. Hormonal fluctuations, use of certain kinds of contraception, and antibiotics can contribute to yeast infections. Douching following sexual intercourse can increase your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis.

Choices will need to be made or re-evaluated regarding birth control. A number of women enter into monogamous relationships during their 20s and the decision whether or not (and when) to have children will become a serious concern. Nonetheless, in most cases, fertility will most likely not be an issue at this age.

In your 20s, you may still struggle with acne, or with finding the best possible skin care products for your skin type. More than likely, your skin will look radiant and healthy no matter what your habits or routines. At this time in your life, you still have a sufficient store of collagen. Some of the biggest skin foes of your 20s will be sun overexposure and inadequate UV protection, and poor nutritional habits. Skin cancer is becoming more and more prevalent in young women.

Putting on too much weight during this time can set you up for health problems later in life, in particular diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Your bones bear the burden of excess weight and poor habits, too. A diet plentiful with bone-building calcium is essential.

Your 20s are a time of limitless possibilities. It's a time to take advantage of your youth, energy, and resilience and to create a strong foundation that can carry you along through a long, healthy, happy life.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Your 20s: time to establish healthy habits

Sexual Wellness Diet and Fitness


Cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Over-extended schedules or lazy, disordered attitudes toward food can keep young women at the mercy of fast food, fad diets, and generally bad nutritional habits. As a twenty-something, you have the chance to explore and experiment with nutrition. Get to know food. Get to love food. Get to know food that loves you back, the kind of food that nurtures you, gives you energy, and makes you feel lucky to be alive to taste it. So clear the take-out numbers from your cell phone, and stop skipping breakfast! Buy a good cookbook or delve into foodie and recipe blogs online. Acquaint yourself with the produce section of your local market, a bounty of nutrient-rich, delicious options.

Get active and stay active. In your 20s, energy and activity may come in bursts: pulling all-nighters studying or partying, adventurous travel with friends, preparing a blitz of resumes and cover letters for a job search. This can also be a great time to experiment and seek out the kinds of physical activities that you most enjoy. Cardiovascular benefits can be felt on the trail or the treadmill, in a spin class, on the soccer field, running the bases, running the track, walking the beach, or dancing 'til dawn. The most important thing is to find things you love to do that keep you moving. Regular physical activity will help you fend off - among other things - excess weight, heart disease, diabetes, bone loss, stress, and depression.

Don't smoke. It's a simple and scientifically proven fact that cigarette smoking is bad for your health - and in so many different ways! You may feel like, "Hey, I'm young. I can get away with it" and just puff away. True, lung cancer doesn't usually occur until late in life, but smoking also puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cervical cancer, and problems with menstruation and fertility. Not to mention there's nothing glamorous or cool about low bone density, yellow and decayed teeth, or swollen, bleeding gums.

Build a strong foundation. By the time you hit your late 20s, your bone density has nearly reached its peak. Your work now is to build what you can and to maintain what you have. And it is a bit of work, in terms of both fitness and the foods you choose to eat. See, at this age, you need to pull in about 1000 mg of calcium per day. To get an idea, a cup of plain yogurt contains a little over 300 mg. Other food sources of calcium include cheese, tofu, many kinds of beans, and some dark, leafy greens. Your bones also appreciate an ample supply of vitamin D, 600 IU per day, which will help your bones to soak up the calcium you feed them. You can take supplements to get the minerals and vitamins you need, or you can go the tastier route and work them into your diet. Do weight-bearing exercise to fortify your bones, and core training to create your body's central, stabilizing powerhouse. Your knees also have needs. As you get older, they'll need all the help they can get, so scaffold them with strong quadriceps and calf muscles.

Protect your skin. Our skin ages right along with us. No one can completely escape the natural and environmental oxidative damage that eventually leads to our skin's structural breakdown. Wrinkles and sagging skin may be delayed, though, with healthy habits, a balanced diet, and a skin care routine that emphasizes protection, cleansing, and exfoliation. Whenever you head outdoors, wear sunscreen on exposed skin, and reapply it as needed. A moisturizer with higher sun protection factor (SPF) may be necessary on your face, and don't neglect your tender, vulnerable lips.

Squeeze in sleep. More and more people seem to be getting less and less sleep. Too bad: sleep is a precious health commodity, crucial to a healthy, functioning body and mind. In your 20s, you may face the occasional sleep deficit after an all-nighter or during a stressful time. Or you might experience full-blown insomnia. Chronic sleeplessness may lead to depression, diabetes, and diminished ability to learn and retain information. Lots of things contribute to sleeplessness - scattered and busy schedules, depression and anxiety, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, and smoking, to name only a few. Set yourself up for a good, nourishing sleep of 7 to 9 hours each night by avoiding those sleep-snatchers and establishing consistent sleep routines.

Practice safe sex. The best protection against STIs is the latex condom, though they are not 100% effective. Even if you think you've been as careful as possible, you still may have put yourself at risk for STIs like human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Incorrect condom use can lead to STIs, such as HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer. If you're sexually active, you should be screened for infection, including a Pap test, every 3 years during your 20s. Consult with your doctor on how often to get Pap tested and if an HPV vaccine is suitable for you.

Flush infections. Women in their 20s may experience some very private pains down there. Urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis can all be avoided by practicing a few hygienic and lifestyle habits. Sex can introduce bacteria into your system, from your partner's genitals or by the disruption of the balance of the bacteria caused by spermicide. Women used to use douching for this purpose, but the process can actually disrupt the balance of "good" bacteria in your genital area. Rather, you can flush away bacteria by urinating right after you have sex. And you may have learned this way back in the potty-training days, but make sure you always wipe from front to back after you use the toilet.

Safeguard your reproductive health. Consult with your gynecologist or reproductive specialist to choose the best possible contraceptive option for you and your lifestyle. Oral birth control pills may work for one woman, while another option will better meet another woman's needs. Optimize your fertility by getting sufficient levels of folic acid before and during pregnancy. A supplement containing 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid can complement a diet with folic-rich foods, like whole grains, spinach, and lentils.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Your 20s: check-up checklist



You're never too young to start monitoring your health. Use this check-up checklist to stay on top of the tests and examinations you need all through your 20s.

  • Pap test and pelvic exam: Once you've hit 21, you should get your first pelvic exam. Most experts and advisory groups do not recommend routine pelvic exams for most women. Some reasons for routine pelvic exams could include the following:
    • abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
    • pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
    • pregnancy
    • family history of ovarian or cervical cancer

    Ask your doctor if you need a pelvic exam. If your Pap smears are normal, then testing is done every 3 years. Pap tests screen for cervical cancer, while the pelvic exam allows your health care provider to examine your cervix and vagina and to get a sense of the health of your uterus. Your health care provider might also look for signs of infections.  

  • Breast exam: Breast cancer is a very common cancer among women. At the age of 25, your chances of getting breast cancer are less than 1 in 1,000. Because of this, most women in their 20s do not need to receive breast cancer screening via a mammogram. There's limited evidence to support breast cancer screening via other methods such as self-examinations, MRI, or clinical breast exams.
  • Skin check: You may figure that you're years away from peak risk age, but anyone at any age can develop skin cancer. In addition to minimizing your risk with healthy sun habits, your health care provider should do a thorough skin check to screen for new or changed moles or marks. You can also do a skin check yourself (or with a helpful partner). Remember that when looking at skin growths, the letters ABCDE are things to be concerned over:
    • Asymmetry (not round)
    • Border (irregular)
    • Colour (uneven, changing, different from other moles)
    • Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser)
    • Evolving (changing in size, shape, or colour)

    If anything seems out of the ordinary or alarming, contact your doctor.

  • Dental check-ups: Visit your dentist for preventive check-ups and routine cleanings. The frequency of visits will really depend on individual needs, though most authorities on the subject recommend at least once or twice a year.
  • Eye exams: Even if your vision is 20/20 in your 20s, you should have your eyes examined every 2 to 3 years. After all, optometrists check for other things besides how good your vision is - like signs of glaucoma. If you have a condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of vision problems, your optometrist will let you know if you need more frequent eye exams and check-ups.
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol: You're not at too much risk of elevated levels now, especially if you're following healthy heart habits like exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and not smoking. Any time you go in for any health care visit, your blood pressure will be gauged, and you should get a cholesterol work-up every few years. If you fall into a higher-risk group based on your medical history, your doctor may screen your levels more frequently.
  • Immunizations: You think shots are just for kids? Certain vaccinations you received as a child may need to be updated, while other immunizations are available that can protect you from needless health issues. Ask your doctor if you're due for any of these:
    • Get shots to protect you from measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) if you've never had the vaccination before. Should you find yourself in certain risky situations, you'd also need the MMR vaccination. Those risky situations include working in health care, attending college, and travelling to certain countries.
    • The tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended for anyone whose last Tdap shots were more than 10 years ago. Others who should get the Tdap include those who work in close contact with infants, those who plan on becoming pregnant, and those who have received a "dirty" wound (e.g., from a rusted nail).
    • Each year, get the influenza vaccine. The flu shot is especially important if you have medical conditions that put you at risk of complications from the flu.
    • Considering world travel? Consider being vaccinated against meningitis and hepatitis A and B, and consult with a travel clinician or your doctor in regards to other risks of particular destinations.
    • If you never had chickenpox as a youngster, you should get vaccinated against it now. And if you're unsure whether you did, go ahead and get the vaccination, just in case. It's a good idea to get it, too, if you're hoping to get pregnant sometime in the future. Hold off, though, if you're already pregnant (or hope to be within several weeks of vaccination).
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common but totally preventable sexually transmitted disease. Condoms can't fully protect you from the virus, and though it is a silent, symptom-less virus, it can put you at increased risk of cervical cancer. The three-dose vaccination provides a means of protection.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: