Let’s discuss women’s health. The importance of women’s health remains true every day of the year. With the everyday chaos of women’s responsibilities to their jobs, their families and the communities, it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on everything and everyone but themselves.
It is important that all women understand that while it may be important to show up for your responsibilities, it is even more important to show up for yourself. You cannot be there for others without first ensuring you’re well enough by taking care of yourself. The following are five ways women can focus on their health all throughout the year.
1) Exercise and get moving
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent illness while also being beneficial for your overall health, including mental health. Heart disease, diabetes, and bone disease are just among the illnesses that can be prevented or their effects lessened by consistent workouts. While implementing a workout regimen where you didn’t have one before may seem daunting, the good thing is that it is never too late to start, no matter how old you are. Start small and build up your routine. A recommended 30 minutes a day doing cardio and aerobic exercise mixed in with some days of strength training can do wonders for your overall health. You will reap the benefits of this habit both in the present and future.
2) Consume a healthy diet
A healthy diet goes hand in hand with exercise to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Making good nutrition a priority and avoiding overindulgence and crash diets are important for women of all ages. Staying hydrated is also key with a recommended eight-10 glasses of water a day as well as the consumption of foods with high water content such as many fruits and vegetables. The seven essential components of a balanced diet include meals containing: carbohydrates, protein, fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water in balanced proportions. However, women at various stages of their life have to focus on adding specific nutrients to their diets. For example, women of childbearing age who are interested in having children should focus on food with folic acids (such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and beans). While women who have gone through menopause are recommended to increase their intake of calcium and vitamin D to help prevent bone disease as they age (this includes seafood, fruits, low-fat dairy and eggs).
3) Keep your stress level at a minimum
There are many things that may cause women to stress in their everyday lives. From the pressures of work to motherhood and trying to balance all these responsibilities and everything in between. However, keeping your stress levels at bay is crucial for your overall health, not only your mental health. Stress can cause significant health complications such as anxiety and depression, infertility and heart disease. Ideally, ensure that you are getting enough sleep as this not only helps to keep your stress levels in check but also allows you to be more mentally alert and able to tackle all your tasks. During sleep, your body is allowed to recover, strengthening your immune system and decreasing your risk for health issues. Additionally, if you do feel like you are not managing your stress well, there are several resources available to help support you through these struggles. Seeing a therapist or asking your general practitioner for tips on stress management are some key ways you can look out for your mental health and combat feelings of stress.
4) Keep on top of all your annual checkups
It is important that you keep on top of all annual health check-ups. Annual screenings are crucial for early detection of disease or chronic conditions which will allow you to get treatment early and keep your health under control. Many of these screenings may have to be done more or less frequently than annually especially if you have a family history of these diseases. However, your healthcare practitioner will guide you accordingly.
For women, the following health screenings should be paid keen attention to:
Cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar (women ages 20+)
Pelvic exams and pap smears (women ages 21 - 65)
Breast examinations, both at the doctor and at home (women age 18+)
Mammograms (women aged 40 - 50)
Sexually transmitted infections/ disease (STI/STD) tests (any sexually active woman).
5) Take care of your sexual and reproductive health
Sexual health is a lifelong issue for women. Women’s sexual health needs span decades and while the needs may change, you should always ensure they are tended to. Some sexual health needs you may have as a woman over the years may include:
Protection against STIs.
Family planning and birth control options.
Routine reproductive checks (pap smears, pelvic exams, STD tests).
Changes in libido or sex drive as you get older.
Reduced response to sexual stimulation.
Uncomfortable or painful sex.
Your doctor may be able to guide you through any stage or symptom of your sexual and reproductive health to assist you in being your healthiest and most comfortable self. If you have any questions or concerns about your sexual health, reach out to your doctor whether in person or via online services.
Women are encouraged to practice these health tips every day, and not just when women’s health is being promoted and celebrated. However, take advantage today of all the information being shared during this period and encourage all the other women in your life to practice a healthier lifestyle today.
If you need easy and convenient access and/ or advice on these health concerns or any associated services, telemedicine is an accessible means of health care for women of all ages. You may speak to a doctor, get prescription refills and even get referrals for lab tests through meeting with a physician online and being consulted via text, video and voice call. Healthcare for women should be easy to access, and less restrictive to their everyday busy lives, in Jamaica, MDLink Health App provides just that.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company’s website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.