When it comes to our health, aside from eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly, one size does not fit all. Women can benefit from paying attention to certain health needs over others throughout their lives.
Here are the top 10 health tips every woman should know:
1. Understand HPV (human papillomavirus) and how to prevent it in. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that is so common almost all men and women who are sexually active will get it at some point in their lives. For women, HPV can cause cervical cancer. Boys and girls ages 11 to 12 should get vaccinated, and women through age 26 should get catch-up vaccines.
2. Take calcium and vitamin D, but not too much. Women younger than 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium and about 600 international units of vitamin D every day; if you’re older than 50, bump that up to 1,200 milligrams and 900 international units, respectively. However, don’t take too much and make yourself sick. Be sure to balance the supplements you take with your diet and lifestyle.
3. Pay more attention to your hormones. Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, changes to your body will happen years before menopause begins. Take note of night sweats, hot flashes, tightness or dryness during sex, trouble falling or staying asleep and mood changes, including depression. If you notice any of these changes, check in with your OB/GYN or primary care doctor and talk about what they might mean. They could indicate perimenopause, or they could be symptoms of something else entirely.
4. Make informed decisions about medication use. Most women take medication during pregnancy and their babies suffer no negative effects. When you get pregnant, don’t stop taking medication, especially prescription medication. It might be more harmful to stop, depending on your medical conditions. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking or might be taking before, during and after pregnancy.
5. Make time for yourself – especially if you’re a caregiver. If you’re a caregiver and you find yourself getting overwhelmed physically, financially and emotionally, you’re probably experiencing caregiver stress. Manage this stress before it gets the better of you! Do the things you enjoy, eat well and exercise regularly.
6. Don’t accept anxiety as a way of life. Women are more likely than men to have generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, some phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you’re experiencing anxiety or fear more days than not, and especially if it’s interfering with your life – get help. There are many resources and options for treatment and management of anxiety disorders, including depression.
7. Don’t be a victim – speak up against sexist treatment and gender discrimination. These are real concerns for women in the workplace. Dealing with harassment at work can lead to health problems like anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches and more. If you’re feeling harassed at work, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell your manager, human resources department or other official, and make sure you feel safe at work.
8. Focus on your heart. Heart disease kills one in every four women in the US, and, almost two-thirds of women who die of coronary heart disease don’t have any symptoms. Take care of your heart, monitor your blood pressure and get screened for heart disease.
9. Make and keep regular OB/GYN appointments. Keeping regular appointments with your OB/GYN is the best way to catch early warning signs of gynecological and breast cancers, and to maintain good reproductive and sexual health.
10. Know your own risk factors. Genetic makeup, family history, geographic location – there are many personal aspects that impact your health risk factors. Talk to your doctor and do some research to see what you might be at risk for, and then maintain a lifestyle to minimize those risk factors when possible.
Every woman is different, so maintain good diet and exercise habits, do what’s right for you and let your OB/GYN help you make the most of your health whatever stage you’re at in life.
Dr. Susan Greene is an OB/GYN in practice at Memorial Health University Physicians | Women’s Care Pooler. Call (912) 350-5937 to make an appointment or book one online.