May 13-19, 2018, is National Women’s Health Week. Ladies, it’s time to focus on you. As we discussed in a recent blog, women are notorious for putting others before themselves. It’s noble. It’s selfless. It keeps households functioning smoothly. But now you need to take a time out—because you can’t help your family if you’re not taking care of yourself.
Where does your health stand?
In addition to eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, quitting tobacco, and getting enough sleep, there are certain things women need to pay attention to, as women’s health needs are different than those of men or children.
Women are more likely than men to report having stress, with almost 50 percent of women reporting an increase in stress over the past five years. Stress has many negative side effects, including depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. Stress also affects women uniquely, as it can cause menstrual problems and reduce a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant.
- Adopt a stress-management technique, whether it’s meditation, deep breathing exercises, journaling, or physical activity.
Many women reach for a drink after a stressful day. But approximately 5.3 million women in the U.S. abuse alcohol, meaning they drink too much on occasion, or their drinking habits result in poor judgement and risky behaviors. The health effects of alcohol abuse for women include an increased risk for breast cancer and heart disease.
- Talk to your doctor about your alcohol use, drinking habits, and family history.
- Ask your employer if an employee assistance program (EAP) is available to employees. These confidential programs assist employees with various personal issues, including alcohol abuse.
- For additional help, click here.
It’s estimated that 12 million women in the U.S. experience depression, and 10-15 percent of mothers get postpartum depression. According to research, women with major depression had a reduced life expectancy of 9.5 years.
Certain cancers affect women. The most common cancer in women, other than skin cancer, is breast cancer. Additionally, approximately one in 60 women in the U.S. will develop ovarian cancer, and 12,000 women in the U.S. will get cervical cancer each year.
- Talk to your doctor about your risk for certain cancers and whether you need a screening.
- Don’t skip preventive care: schedule your yearly well-woman visit.