Women Health 101

HEALTH:  Hardiness, Energy, Ability, Live/Life, Together, Happy

Synonyms: fitness, strength, well-being, bloom, complexion, constitution, euphoria, spirit, state of mind, form, shape, state, stamina, tone, vigor, wholeness, condition

Antonyms: lethargy, weakness, disease, illness, infirmity, sickness

There are eight areas of interest in women’s health:  Physical, Psychological, Social, Sexual, Spiritual, Emotional, Safety, and Financial.  Balance in these regions lead to a sound body and mind (physical and mental).

Stages of Women Health:

  1. PREGNANCY (12 to 50+ yr.; menses to post menopause)

 Physical

  • Body changes during the pregnancy with weight gain, nausea/vomiting, back pain, cravings, hemorrhoids.
  • Get prenatal care and vitamins (Fe, Ca, Folic acid).
  • May develop co-condition: gestational diabetes (pregnancy-related diabetes), hypertension, and edema; must follow the obstetrician’s advice carefully.
  • Nutrition: eat well-balanced, healthy foods.  Mya is best to prepare for the pregnancy by using multivitamins before conception.  Talk to you doctor.  Avoid fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, tilefish and mackerel; avoid coffee/caffeine and alcohol (and tobacco).
  • Make sure the medication you are on is safe for pregnancy.  If already on baseline medications then it is good to know ahead of the conception of what medications that you are on and their consequences to the unborn.  Avoid cats during pregnancy (toxoplasmosis).
  • Maintain exercise to ensure excess weight gain and to keep weight post-delivery.
  • Educate yourself about pregnancy and mothering.
  • Epidural/Spinal – consider for a more pain controlled delivery.
  • Reduce infections; your doctor will test for hepatitis, bacteriuria, Rh compatibility
  • Psychological & Emotional
  • Exciting time in a woman’s life, but can be scary too.  Many emotions can run wild.
  • Due to hormones depression may present (especially postpartum); Watch for symptoms and use depression reduction techniques to maintain moods as needed. Symptoms include: feel down, sad, hopeless, have felt little interest, or pleasure in doing things; worrisome if these last more than two weeks.  Depression reduction techniques include finding reasons to get up in the morning such as work, community, volunteering, love, pets (avoid cats during preg), volunteering.

Social

  • isolation, lack of support or criticism from parents/in-laws, stigma in culture, unplanned pregnancy, the division of labor, breastfeeding, balancing life/schedule, achieving pre-pregnancy weight.

Sexual

  • Hormones change the urges (mostly increased).
  • Sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis. If present then makes it hard to achieve pregnancy, effects on baby (gonorrhea may cause eye problems and syphilis may cause nerve damage).

Spiritual

  • May become more religious.

Safety

  • Unfortunately, pregnancy may be the start of intimate partner violence.

Financial

  • Plan savings/spending wisely and know what your insurance policy covers.

2. CHILDHOOD – Overall, the young and the old are the most vulnerable to infections!

Physical

  • Growth so needs plenty of exercises and a proper balanced diet.  Limit candy and sugars, fats and salt.  Get plenty of variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Develop good hygiene habits- brushing teeth, bathing, cleanliness, combing hair, lice checks.
  • Get chicken pox.  Get the flu shot and the required immunizations before teenage years are reached: varicella (if not exposed to chickenpox), measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis B and A series, meningococcal meningitis, human papilloma vaccine, diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis booster
  • May develop childhood diseases so watch health carefully with regular checkups and preventions.  Some chronic illnesses of children include asthma, diabetes, cerebral palsy, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, spina bifida, and congenital heart problems.

Psychological/Social/Emotional

  • A women’s health begins with a healthy childhood where the girl child is raised by the values of her society.
  • Encourage curiosity and development of the mind and body.

Sexual/Safety

  • Hopefully none, but beware of predators for abduction, abuse.

Spiritual/Financial

  • Hopefully, no issues but best to start to talk about these early on both.

3. TEENAGE (Thirteen to Nineteen)

Physical

  • Many changes; braces, menses, bra, makeup.
  • Hygiene musts: floss teeth daily; exfoliate skin; wash hair (every 2-3 days is best) and condition (it is best to leave conditioner in for about 3 minutes before rinsing); shave underarm and leg hair (shave in direction of hair growth to avoid ingrown hairs and apply hair conditioner just before shaving to reduce shaving cuts/nicks); and sanitize.
  • Exercise routinely.
  • Peak time for accidents.  Reduce risks and know your blood type.
  • Health checkups: blood pressure screens start at age 18 and recheck every two years. High blood pressure is 140/80 or greater. Untreated high blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack/failure, kidney, and eye problems.

Psychological

  • Notice the opposite sex; start dating.
  • There may be social competition.

Social

  • Family expectations/responsibilities.
  • Pressures to learn to cook, be a homemaker, and look and act in a certain way.

Sexual

  • Menses, sexual curiosity, cervical checks for cancer, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and human papillomavirus (HPV); May opt for cervical cancer vaccines; abstinence, and safe sex.  Be educated to reduce STD/HIV; start cervical screens with sexual activity. Use pain controls with menses.

Spiritual

  • There may be religious responsibilities.

Emotional

  • Trying time for many, develop friendships (Saheli’s -female friends), start a diary, engage in physical activity.

Safety

  • The risk of rape, abduction, abuse.

Financial

  • Start work – save the cash!

3. WOMANHOOD: (20’s to mid-40’s)

Physical

  • Most Productive period: career, get married, have children.
  • Stress and workload increases.
  • Need to maintain or learn about proper nutrition: plenty of water, fruits, vegetables and protein in a diet.  For healthy eating and reduce constipation and other problems.
  • Start calcium supplements at age 30 because our bodies start using calcium from bones if not present enough (which leaches out of bones to form osteoporosis later in life).
  • May gain weight at this time due to lack of exercise and self-care.
  • Safe medication issues (too much acetaminophen may lead to liver damage and too much ibuprofen to kidney damage).
  • May develop migraine headaches.
  • Urinary tract infections may occur.
  • Still have menses which may cause food cravings and sexual urges; pain is stronger as you age (until menopause when menses have ended).
  • Maintain a healthy weight with enough exercise.
  • High heel shoes may lead to foot damage later in life.
  • Health Screening: Pap smears, blood pressure, cholesterol checks (begin at age 20), self-breast exam (start at age 20 and perform monthly); mammograms (usually start at age 40 then repeat every two years- parameters change so what for new guidelines); eye exams to rule out glaucoma (another silent disease).

Psychological

  • Due to increased demands of life, the woman may ignore self and not sufficiently use stress relievers.  Can quickly develop depression.

Social & Emotional

  • Need a support system, friends, hobbies, and career.

Sexual

  • Use birth control as required for proper family planning.
  • Know about STDs (be aware that your partner may be fooling around, and you may be still susceptible to these diseases).

Spiritual

  • May become more or less engaged in one’s religion.

Safety

  • Domestic disputes, violence, rape concerns

Financial

  • Unless some source savings or money, women are limited in discretionary spending.

4. MIDDLE-AGE (mid 40’s to early 60’s – Happiest time)

Physical

  • Gravity takes effect along with weight gain.
  • May start aches of arthritis or osteoporosis.
  • Consider adding more medicines such as glucosamine sulfate, multivitamins, baby aspirin, vitamin D and B12, Magnesium and other medications as needed.
  • Diabetes signs may be seen with loss of estrogen, which may lead to muscle mass loss.
  • Nutrition needs need to be adjusted with a higher protein breakfast.
  • Add exercises if not already.  Exercise strengthens bones.
  • Hair loss may start (decrease this loss with regular hair washing, not handling wet hair, and sleeping on satin pillow case).
  • Wrinkles –avoid the sun, use sunblock.
  • Drink plenty of water – may need up to or more than 2 liters of water per day.
  • Sleep patterns change with insomnia or increased requirements for sleep.
  • May develop hot flashes.
  • May go through stages of insomnia.
  • May develop headaches irritable bowel syndrome, gallstones, multiple sclerosis.
  • Start colorectal cancer screens at age 50 then repeat every ten years or as recommended by your doctor.

Psychological

  1. Depression due to lack of a career; empty nester.

Social/Spiritual/Emotional-

  • Could be problematic.  Adjust as needed.  Look for support in the community.

Safety

  • Domestic violence and other security issues still a concern.

Financial

  • A huge concern if no income is coming in.

Sexual

  • Many concerns: menopause, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence (start Kegel exercises, gels for sex/estrogen supplement: Menopause increases heart attack risks, cancers.

5.  ELDERLY   (Age when you feel it the most, around mid-60’s and onward). Again, the young and the old are the most vulnerable to diseases/infections!

Physical

  • May develop osteoarthritis, osteoporosis.  Check bone density test and get plenty of sunlight (a vitamin D source) and vitamin D.
  • May develop dementia, heart-lung disorders, diabetes, visual changes, cataracts, urinary incontinence, may need dentures and muscle loss.
  • Medication sensitivity, watch carefully for side effects.
  • Get the flu shot YEARLY and a  pneumonia shot when over age 65 years old.

Psychological/Emotional

  • May develop depression from isolation.  Also increased the risk for anxiety, sleep disturbance, insomnia.

Social

  • Lack of support system, not get enough social activities.

Sexual

  • Pain with sex due to vaginal dryness.

Spiritual

  • May become more religious.

Safety

  • Watch for falling issues.  Maybe robbed easily.

Financial

  • Limited resources or savings lead to limited discretionary spending.

KNOW AND CARE FOR YOUR BODY BEFORE IT STARTS GOING DOWNHILL!!!!!!!