Women’s Health Week Reminders from Dr. Mostofian, OB/GYN
National Women’s Health Week begins on Mother’s Day every year. This week serves as a reminder for all women to better take care of themselves and to make their o
wn health care a priority. Women are the center of communities and families, yet, their sacrificial nature means that they may tend to put other’s needs above their own. We know that when moms and daughters are taken care of, their children, siblings, extended families, and communities are more likely to be healthy, as well.
The Women’s Health Services team at NCHS is proud to provide care for women throughout her healthcare journey with services ranging from well woman exams, family planning, cancer screenings, and much more. Each women’s health care journey will differ, but below are a few steps she can make to ensure a safer and healthier life.
Get Recommended Screenings and Preventive Care
Regular check-ups are important. Preventive care can keep disease away or detect problems early, when treatment is more effective.
- If you are in your 20’s: the focus may be primarily on family planning needs, screening for sexually transmitted infections, menstrual issues, and screening for chronic conditions, such as obesity.
- If you are in your 30’s: a women may have already completed childbearing or she may just be getting started, there are separate issues that come with both ends of the reproductive spectrum.
- If you are in your 40’s: a woman is at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and menstrual issues. Women may have been on birth control for many years, but now need or want to change their method. Alternatively, some women change relationships in mid-life and become intimate with new partners for the first time since completing childbearing. Women may have concerns about their sexual health, and are still at risk for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies. In this age group, the health care team will also begin mammogram screening, look for onset of urinary incontinence (increased trips to the restroom), and screen for symptoms of menopause.
- In your 50’s and beyond: the preventative services will focus on continued cancer screening, with the addition of screening for colon cancer and treating symptoms of menopause, incontinence, and utero-vaginal prolapse (descent of the uterus and/or vagina). Women can continue to be sexually active into their 80s and beyond, and may have concerns about atrophic vaginitis (thin, dry, and inflamed vaginal walls) and other hormone-related conditions, such as osteoporosis (weakening of bones).
- Physical activity is one of the most important things a woman can do for her health and has many benefits, including lowering your risk for heart disease—the leading cause of death for women.
- Adults should strive for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity that requires moderate effort. You don’t have to do it all at once. Even a few minutes at a time has health benefits, and some activity is always better than none.
- More than one out of four older people falls each year, with women falling more often than men. Strength and balance training can help reduce falls.
Enjoy a Healthy and Balanced Diet
- Nutrition is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Women need folic acid every day for the healthy new cells the body makes daily. It’s also important to help prevent major birth defects when pregnant. Women who could become pregnant need 400 micrograms (400 mcg) of folic acid each day. Two easy ways you can get enough folic acid are to take a vitamin that has folic acid in it every day or eat a bowl of breakfast cereal that has 100% of the daily value of folic acid every day. Folic acid pills and most multivitamins sold in the United States have 100% of the daily value (DV) of folic acid; check the label to be sure.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions and can lead to the development of chronic diseases. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is up to one drink a day for women.
Prioritize Mental Health – this starts with a conversation, talk to your health care provider about your concerns.
Practice Healthy Behaviors – Daily decisions influence overall health. Small actions can help keep you safe and healthy and set a good example for others.
- Stay up-to-date on cancer screening tests and protect your skin from the sun when outdoors.
- Getting enough sleep is important for overall health. It impacts how you feel and perform during the day. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid distracted driving, which is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road. Each day in the U.S., approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
- Only take prescription medicine as directed by a health care provider. More than 7,000 women died from overdose of prescription opioids in 2016.
- Be smoke free. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) or visit Smokefree Women for free resources, including quit coaching, a quit plan, educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live, and even get tips from former smokers.
Author: Dr. Eimaneh Mostofian, NCHS OB/GYN & Clinical Director of Women’s Health Services
We are here for you and look forward to taking care of you through your healthcare journey. Call or text NCHS at (760) 736-6767 to schedule your appointment today.
For more information on National Women’s Health Week, visit: https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/about