In last week’s blog we talked about how to take care of mom and insure that she remains as healthy as she can. This week we are continuing with that topic with discussing five health issues that affect nearly all women. Women are under a great deal of stress and as we’ve talked about in the past, chronic stress—whether its physical, emotional or chemical—weakens your immune system making you more susceptible to getting sick and suffering from different diseases. Here are five health issues that women may face and deal with at different times in their lives.
Cancer: Unfortunately, cancer is very common. Lifestyle choices play a huge role. One way to prevent cancer from forming is to take a fresh look at your daily habits. Do you smoke, do you drink heavily, do you expose yourself to harmful chemicals, do you eat a relatively healthy diet? By evaluating and changing poor lifestyle choices, you may prevent any early chances of cancer development. Detecting cancer in its early stage is the most important thing that you can do. The most common form of cancers found in women are breast and cervical cancer. See your gynecologist annually and be sure to perform monthly or even weekly breast examinations. Follow up with any abnormalities with your doctor at your next visit.
Reproductive health: Women need access to safe health care in order to be able to carry out their sexual and reproductive functions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), reproductive health implies that women are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. There are several components to reproductive health including but not limited to: adolescent health and puberty, maternal health and infertility, contraception, and sexual transmitted infections.
Violence against women: Today 1 in every 3 women under the age of 50 have experienced physical or sexual abuse, whether it is by a partner, friend, or stranger. Women today are placed under a lot of pressure to be consistently aware of their surroundings and to always be on guard. My mom has always said, “Be mindful of your surroundings” and while women shouldn’t live in fear, we need to be aware of who is around us. Try not to get distracted by your phone if you are walking alone. Also a women should never be afraid of her partner. Someone who is experiencing violence in their life will most likely suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, eating disorders, depression and/or suicidal thoughts. It is important for women to know their voice and to speak out against violence—someone will always be there to listen and they will be heard.
Mental health: Women experience more anxiety and panic attacks than men. There are a multitude of things that can impact a women’s mental health. Depression is the number one mental illness in women and suicide is the leading cause of death of women under the age of 60. As I stated previously, women need to be heard. They need to know that they have a voice and when they use it, they will be heard. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or showing signs of depression: fatigue, lack of motivation, anxiety, irritability; please guide them towards someone who can help. Depression is a lot more common than we think so we must take the acts to help those in need. If you have had thoughts of suicide, please go to your nearest hospital or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Non-communicable diseases: Non-communicable diseases are labeled as the deaths that are caused by lifestyle choices, not infections. For example, diabetes, alcohol abuse, smoking, and obesity are non-communicable diseases. During the year of 2012 more than 4.7 million women died from non-communicable diseases. This number is scary to look at especially because all of these issues and deaths can be prevented. I said earlier in this blog that we have to begin to look at our lifestyle choices. If we have poor lifestyle choices, expect there to be poor results. I understand that change is hard and it may not come natural to exercise, or to quit smoking and stop eating processed foods; however, it is something that we need to do in order to live a healthier lifestyle. We can not expect to live life completely care free of the consequences from our choices, we instead have to ask ourselves “does this benefit me?” Every action (or inaction) we make has consequences. Time passes quickly so the sooner you start, the better your outcomes will be. Start with making small changes, be consistent and never give up on yourself.