It’s no coincidence that Women’s Health Week begins on Mother’s Day; it’s also no coincidence that May is Women’s Health Month. This week calls women to take action and prioritize their health. This means taking proactive measures to prevent diseases and illnesses that routinely affect women to a larger extent than men.
In this post, we cover gender-specific health patterns, the importance of prioritizing personal health, and tips on how to do so.
Gender-Based Health Patterns
Although not all health issues are connected to gender, data confirms that certain issues are more prevalent in one gender over the other. The findings collected can lead to more accurate diagnosis and inform the type of preventative measures both men and women take to maintain personal health. Health issues that affect women at a much higher rate than men include osteoporosis, strokes, and depression.
Because women traditionally have smaller bones than men, it is more likely that their bone density will decrease earlier and more significantly over time. Because of this, approximately 80% of reported osteoporosis cases are attributed to women.
On a similar note, strokes are the fourth most frequent cause of death in women. Each year, there are roughly 55,000 more stroke cases reported in women than men. While there is no definite reason why women deal with strokes more often than men, scientists feel that changes during menopause and patterns of atrial fibrillation in women may be the culprits.
While it is true that suicide is more prevalent among men than women, in most reported cases of depression, the patient identifies as female. For this reason, women must learn to identify symptoms associated with depression. It’s also important that women have a support system of healthcare professionals and loved ones they feel comfortable talking to these about should they arise. Some reasons why depression is more prevalent in women may be due to hormonal changes throughout time and societal pressures or expectations.
Women’s Health During COVID-19
With COVID-19 affecting the operations of healthcare facilities, it can be difficult for women to get the healthcare they need. Some women’s health and reproductive services are being put on hold or delayed. This is especially concerning for women in lower socioeconomic groups who may depend on such services. At this time, it may be difficult to obtain menstrual hygiene products and contraceptives.
There are also concerns that COVID-19 related hospital restrictions could cause pregnant women to miss prenatal appointments. This worry is based on data following past virus outbreaks, with the primary example being Ebola. Prenatal appointments are essential and assist in ensuring a safe pregnancy & delivery with minimal speed bumps. At this time, many prenatal appointments, except those related to high-risk pregnancy cases, are being completed over the phone. Expectant mothers should keep these appointments to ensure safe and healthy deliveries for both mom and baby.
Tips for Prioritizing Health
While some individuals may be genetically predisposed to certain diseases, there are many proactive measures women can take to minimize their chances of contracting these and other, more preventable, health issues. Below are some ideas.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Regardless of gender, maintaining a balanced diet is essential to good health. This means focusing on whole or unprocessed foods. It also includes creating a balance when it comes to deciding what food groups to consume. Women should ensure they are consuming enough iron and folic acid. Both these items can be found in dark leafy vegetables. To maintain good bone health, women should introduce foods containing calcium and vitamin D into their diets. Examples of these may include dairy products, fish, and fortified fruit juices. For additional information on the nutritional needs of females, check out the Office of Women’s Health’s website.
Create an Exercise Routine
We know movement is good for us. According to numerous studies, moderate exercise for 150 minutes each week can lower an individual’s blood pressure, reduce the risk of contracting cardiovascular disease, prevent diabetes, increase bone density, and even lead to improvements in mood and energy levels. With so many sports, exercise regimes, and workout classes offered today, it is easy to find something that’s enjoyable and good for your health. For some out-of-the-box ideas on ways to stay active, click here.
Assess Your Mental State
Because women are susceptible to developing depression, they must be educated on ways to lessen the symptoms and stressors associated with it. Some ways to combat depression and anxiety include seeing a therapist, exercising, practicing mindfulness, meditating, and in some cases, taking medication. Most people find that they can alleviate their symptoms by participating in a combination of the items listed above. One thing to note is that it may take time to see improvement, so be patient in finding what works best for you.
Want to spread the word about Women’s health week? Share how you are keeping yourself healthy on social media with the hashtags #NWHW and #FindYourHealth.
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