Being women, we have specific concerns and needs when it comes to our health. Whether you have an appointment with your OB/GYN or your general physician, make sure you voice any and all concerns or questions you may have about your health. Please do not feel embarrassed or silly when asking a question, it really is better to be safe than sorry. You only have one life and one body!
According to WebMD, the top five health concerns for women are heart disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, depression and autoimmune diseases.
Heart disease, not cancer, is the leading cause of premature death and disability in women. Statistics show that nearly 500,000 women die from heart disease every year. Risk factors for heart disease include: heredity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes and increasing age. Also, minority women are at a greater risk.
Changing your lifestyle to include more physical activity and a healthy diet will greatly lower your risk of heart disease. Also, it is recommended to get a yearly blood test to check your total cholesterol levels, and get routine blood pressure checks.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. However, it is second to lung cancer as a leading cause of death due to cancer. 90 percent of which is caused because of cigarette smoking. Risk factors for breast cancer are heredity, menstruating before the age of 12, not having children, use of medication, alcohol abuse, obesity, poor diet and increasing age. White women are also at a greater risk of having breast cancer; however, black women have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer.
Even though genetics plays a large role in having breast cancer, women who do not have a family history of breast cancer can still develop it. SO make sure to do monthly self-breast exams, annual clinical breast exams, and beginning at age 40, get a mammogram done every one to two years. For women who have had a relative diagnosed with breast cancer, they should get their first mammogram 10 years before that relative was diagnosed.
Osteoporosis is a common problem that causes disability and even death. Your body will build most of its bone mass by the time you reach 30, so forming early habits, such as sufficient calcium consumption, is key. Osteoporosis can affect about 44 million Americans each year, 68 percent of those will be women. Risk factors for osteoporosis include: having a small and thin build, heredity, anorexia, irregular menstrual cycles or low estrogen production because of menopause, smoking, alcohol abuse, inactive lifestyle and a diet that is low in calcium and Vitamin D. White and Asian women are also at a greater risk than other women.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 12 million women are affected by depression every year. Depression seems to affect women more than men, but there is not too much to explain this. Sometimes hormonal issues can be blamed. Risk factors include: having previous depression, family history, heart problems, marital problems, drug abuse, a tragic event, physical or sexual abuse, or having an anxiety disorder.
Research shows that women, and men, who have stable and loving relationships in their lives, are less likely to be depressed. Also try to find hobbies and work that help you feel satisfied.
Autoimmune diseases affect the immune system and attack the body. There are 80 plus autoimmune diseases, some of which include, type 1 diabetes, lupus, thyroid disease and MS. When looking at these diseases individually some can seem uncommon, but when grouped together they become the fourth leading cause of disability in American women. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association says that 75 percent of these diseases affect women. Many of these diseases are hard to understand so aside from some genetic or hereditary cause, focusing on specific risk factors is difficult.
Aside from these leading health concerns, there are many issues that affect women. So as an extra bonus, Dr. Donnica Moore, the president of Sapphire Womens Health Group, gave us her advice on some important things women should know. She says to remember to get annual Pap smear and pelvic exams or get one whenever your doctor recommends. Keep up on your monthly self-breast exams, annual clinical breast exams and mammograms as directed. If you are 30 or older, ask your doctor to have an HPV test. Girls and women ages 9 to 26 should ask their doctor about the HPV vaccine which can help prevent cervical cancer. If you are considering becoming pregnant, take a folic acid supplement. If you are pregnant, take prenatal vitamins. She also advises to get enough calcium; if a calcium supplement is needed, make sure it has Vitamin D with it.
Remember to stay your healthiest and prepare yourself to better combat future problems, voice concerns with your health care professional, dont smoke, exercise regularly and eat a well balanced diet.