Women’s health is put on the back burner far too often.
Many women lead busy lives and don’t make their own health and wellness a priority. Society also doesn’t make it easy for women to prioritize their own health.
With a lack of funding and education on crucial women’s health matters—females oftentimes find themselves at a disadvantage.
Being able to prioritize your own health and wellness is a human right.
Women need to be given equal opportunities in order to do just that.
What is considered women’s health?
Many specialties makeup women’s health. Some of the most common are:
- Birth control
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Reproductive cancers
According to the World Health Organization, gender plays a significant role in one’s overall health. This is due to both physical and sociocultural factors.
Some sociocultural factors that place women’s health at a disadvantage are:
- Unequal power dynamics between men and women
- Societies that place women’s education and employment opportunities at a disadvantage
- Focusing on women just for their reproductive roles
- Violence against women (physical, emotional, sexual, etc)
As a society, we need to do better at advocating for women’s health.
Women need to be encouraged to visit professionals for women’s health. There also needs to be increased funding for women’s health clinics.
The sad reality is women’s health isn’t given as much attention as men’s health. But at the end of the day, women deserve equal representation in the healthcare system. It is a basic human right to be able to prioritize your health and wellness.
Here are some common women’s health issues that females should prioritize check-ups for:
When we think of women’s health, breast cancer is often the first concern that comes to mind.
According to the Breast Cancer Organization, there are expected to be 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer cases in the U.S. in 2022. There are also alarming statistics showing racial disparities between breast cancer diagnoses.
It’s crucial women perform regular breast self exams, and report any lumps/bumps to their physician. Early detection is key when it comes to effective breast cancer treatment.
It’s also important to learn about your family history. If breast cancer runs in your family, it’s important to see if you’re at high risk. Some women even consider treatments such as preventative mastectomies, if they know they’re at risk of breast cancer.
If you do find breast cancer runs in your family, know there are options. Communities such as Brilliantly are a great place for women at risk of breast cancer to connect. You can learn about women in a similar stage of life, and see what options they explored.
Staying informed on your family health history and prioritizing women’s wellness exams, are key to decreasing your risk of breast cancer.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lower uterus. Some common symptoms of cervical cancer are discharge or pain during sex.
A key part of a women’s wellness exam is a pap smear. Pap smears screen for cervical cancer cells, and help detect cervical cancer early on.
How often should you have a women’s wellness exam and pap smear?
It’s generally recommended that you have a women’s wellness exam once a year. For women between the ages of 21-29, it’s generally recommended to have pap smears every 3 years. For women 30 and over, oftentimes pap smears are recommended every 5 years. These durations will vary depending on your history and personal health.
Be sure to consult your women’s health specialist to know how often you should be having regular screenings done.
A common misconception many people have, is that a pap smear will also detect ovarian cancer. This is not true. Ovarian cancer is not the same as cervical cancer.
Ovarian cancer starts in the fallopian tubes and is often a complex condition. Symptoms vary a lot, and often mimic symptoms of other common ailments.
It’s important women regularly are going to their OB/GYN and getting screened for ovarian cancer. If you present symptoms such as:
- Excessive bloating
- Abdominal pain, back pain, or stomach pain
- Changes in your period
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
It’s important you bring these concerns up to your women’s health specialist. These could be early warning signs of ovarian cancer.
When discussing women’s health, autoimmune diseases are often not discussed.
But, out of individuals diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, 80% are women. This startling statistic makes this a crucial component of women’s health.
Some common symptoms of autoimmune diseases according to Hopkins Medicine are:
- Constant fatigue
- Swelling and pain in the joints
- Abdominal pain
- Digestive issues
- Regular fever
- Swelling in glands
If you think you’re experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your physician. An autoimmune disease diagnosis can be complex and take time.
Since many of the symptoms mimic symptoms of other ailments, it’s important to work with a physician you trust. Your physician should help you focus on looking at the big picture and take your concerns seriously.
Need help finding a physician you can trust? Connect2Heal puts you in contact with vetted medical providers and specialists in your area. They’re helping bridge the gap specifically between patients of color and physicians they can trust. Find a women’s health specialist you can trust, here.
These are just a small fraction of all the different factors that impact women’s health. As a woman, it’s crucial you invest in yourself and your health.
When you feel healthy and in control of your body—it helps you show up as the best version of yourself. Your wellness matters! You deserve to have access to specialists in women’s health that have your best interest at heart.
If you’re visiting a physician and you feel they aren’t giving you proper care—it’s important you learn to advocate for your health.
As a woman, it’s far too common that our symptoms are dismissed or shoved aside.
Don’t let that happen to you! Take ownership of your health and take time to find a women’s health specialist you trust.