The following Article outlining a list of 10 things every woman should know about her health was taken from just one of the articles compiled by Dr. Ciara Kelly and published in the Living Section of the Sunday Independent.
Dr. Kelly reviews and signs off all of Healthcare Screening Ireland’s Health Screens.
“Forty years of periods and PMT, pregnancies, childbirth and then the menopause, not to mention Cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and a whole host of other common ailments. We may live longer than men but we don’t have it easy. Here is a list of 10 things every woman should know about her health”
1. Know the shape of your breasts
“One in ten Irish women will develop breast cancer. Self-examination is so important. Being familiar with the normal size, shape and feel of your own breasts means you pick up changes in them. Breast cancer usually presents as a lump but it can also feel like a thickening or heaviness in a breast or may first appear as skin changes over the breast. Look for change. Women over 50 are entitled to free mammograms with Breast Check, the National Screening Programme. Ring them and see when they will be in your area next”.
2. Your Fertility will not last forever
“Our fertility decreases considerably from the age of 35 and plummets after the age of 37. There is no perfect time to have a child but if you are in your mid 30’s and know you want children but keep putting off until your Finances / Career or relationship is in a better position, remember you don’t have forever to make that decision. Life adapts – you will too”.
3. Know your Healthy BMI
“Your BMI should be between 20 and 25 to be Healthy (BMI = weight in kg/height in mts2). Being too fat or too thin will stop you ovulating and cause infertility. Being the correct weight for your height means that you are more likely to be healthy for longer and to have better mobility into your old age. Obesity is the single biggest cause of Osteoarthritis and subsequent immobility”.
4. Smoking increases your risk of Cervical Cancer
“As do multiple sexual partners and becoming sexually active at an early age. If you have these risk factors, you should look out for any symptoms of cervical pathology, such as post-coital bleeding or spotting, or inter-menstrual bleeding. All women between the age of 25 and 60 should participate in the National Screening Programme, Cervical Check, by having regular smear tests. These are widely available from your local GP or Well Woman Centre”.
5. The longest medical undertaking of your life will probably be contraception.
“Most women require it from their teens to their 50s. Use it, understand it and make it work for you. Being able to plan our families and manage our fertility has allowed women to compete in their careers and to achieve equality financially and in society. Unplanned pregnancy can be avoided as there are so many different forms of contraceptives to choose from”.
6. Huge issue for women is incontinence.
“Both faecal and urinary, especially but not exclusively post-childbirth and with increasing age the pelvic floor becomes lax. This results in an enormous number of women suffering from poor control over their bladder and often their bowels. If you have this problem don’t be afraid to look for help. Pelvic floor excercises, physiotherapy, medication and surgery can all help”.
“Start Pelvic floor excercises from your mid-20s, but if you are past that it is never too late. Clench abdominal muscles and pelvic floor together for a count of 10 and repeat”.
7. Nutrition is a vital cornerstone of your health and it starts in childhood.
“Adequate intake of Calcium and Vitamin D are necessary for healthy bone development. Girls and women who don’t take enough dairy produce need to get calcium from other sources if they want to achieve decent bone strength in later life. Diets too rich in fat, sugar and salt have detrimental effects on your heart, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Young women need adequate intake of calories, protein and iron to achieve full growth potential and to avoid anaemia”.
8. Depression and anxiety are things many women struggle with daily.
“Women are less likely to commit suicide than men, but most likely to self-harm. Women are particularly most vulnerable post-natally. Both Medication and counselling have a role in the treatment of anxiety and depression, but simple lifestyle measures such as getting enough sleep and a moderate amount of daily exercise have a huge benefit on our mental health. One of the major issues that cause stress for women is getting the balance right between work and family. Recognise your limits. One advantage that we do have as women is that we are emotionally evolved and better able to express our distress than our Male counterparts. We talk more and build social networks that offer support when we most need it. Talking is therapy”.
9. A healthy sex life is a joyous thing and a vital part of most intimate relationships.
“It is one of life’s richest seams but sex can also harm you, both physically and psychologically. Women are particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections. These infections can have little or no symptoms to alert you of their presence. Infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are extremely common and can cause chronic pelvic problems leading to infertility if left untreated. Other nasty infections such as Hepatitis and HIV are also spread sexually and can be life-threatening”.
10. You will be changed by the menopause.
“Aside from the obvious symptoms of sweats and flushes our body changes in many ways. Just when the fear of pregnancy is alleviated, we lose interest in sex and it can become uncomfortable. Our skin becomes dryer, aches and pains occur where no aches or pains were previously and our moods dip. Keeping fit and regular paracetamol can alleviate most aches and pains and your moods can be treated as too can the menopausal symptoms themselves”.
The benefits of health screening can be felt by both the employer and the employee alike. Health screening is an effective way of increasing employee morale, and leads to reduced sickness and levels of absenteeism.
Smoking Cessation Programmes, Carbon Monoxide Lung Analysis, Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, Alcohol Awareness/Risk Assessment, Spirometry, Celiac Testing, Weight and Stress Management.