Routine care regimen: Are you on it?
National Women’s Health Week is an important reminder that we women can take control of our health and live life to the fullest! Women have unique medical, social, and behavioral issues as compared to men, says Dr. Howard Sharp, Teladoc Health consultant and OB/GYN, and “it’s important to understand these differences to reduce development of cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease.”
It’s true: The steps we take on our healthy lifestyle journey will reduce medical risks and increase the quality of our lives. “Exercise, healthy diet, and routine screening for common health conditions positively impacts long-term health of women,” explains Dr. David L. Super, director of robotic surgery in the Department of OB/GYN at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
Are you taking important steps for your health, including regular medical visits? We’re here to hold your hand and provide a quick review of key wellness areas for women. Even if you’re not in tip-top shape and you’ve neglected some important areas, it’s not too late to get to work!
Remember that you only get one body and one mind on this adventure of life. Here’s our helpful owner’s manual for maintenance and more.
Did you know that certain cancers can be caught early through regular screening exams? A women’s health provider can give direction on breast cancer, colon cancer, and cervical cancer, as well as skin cancer. Ask your physician about mammograms starting at age 40; for colonoscopies, at age 50 if there’s no family history.1 “Cervical cancer screening performed routinely has taken what used to be a leading cause of cancer in reproductive-age women and almost eliminated it entirely,” reports Dr. Super, noting the impact of Pap tests.
If you’ve been a long-term cigarette smoker, lung cancer screening might be a fit for you. (And quitting altogether will improve your health.) Skin cancer screening is available through a dermatologist or regular doctor; pay close attention to any changing spots, moles, or growths. Talk with a Teladoc physician about ways to lower your risk.
Reproductive and sexual health
Birth control to prevent pregnancy, reproductive functioning, and sexual health are all important to women’s wellness. It’s important to clearly communicate your wants and needs to a physician, and to regularly get screened for sexually transmitted infections if active. Women’s health providers also manage conditions like premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, and menstrual dysfunction.
“Careful preconceptual counseling can help women plan for a successful, healthy pregnancy,” Dr. Super explains. He also adds that the average age of conception has risen in the last decade and the percentage of new moms over 40 has risen sharply. “It’s an exciting trend, but it has never been more important for a woman to optimize good health to increase the probability of a favorable prognosis.”
In post-childbearing years, women can have menopause symptoms, pelvic support issues, urinary incontinence, and other diseases of the uterus, tubes, or ovaries. Women’s health specialists at Teladoc can help.
Women lower their chances of getting certain illnesses and diseases through regular vaccinations. An annual influenza shot is always a good idea no matter your age; pneumococcal and shingles vaccines also benefit some women. Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are spread through sexual contact and can be vaccinated against. Reviewing your age, medical history, and lifestyle choices can help a doctor determine which vaccinations will benefit you.
Bone health screenings
Bone density testing for osteoporosis is a good idea if you’re older than 50.2 “Osteoporosis is a common cause of pain due to spinal fractures, but also is a significant risk factor for death prematurely due to hip fracture. This is completely preventable,” Dr. Super says. “In post-reproductive-age women, adequate diet, exercise, and calcium for bone health is extremely important in preventing osteoporosis.”
Other health screenings
A physician can also screen you for high blood pressure and diabetes as part of an overall wellness check of vital signs and general health, Dr. Super says. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other problems goes up.3 Both high blood pressure and diabetes are linked to obesity, so you may want to talk about healthy weight with your doctor. “Weight control is important to maintain general health in both women and men,” Dr. Super says, “So discuss diet, exercise, and other strategies for good health.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Super reports, mental health challenges that effect millions of women are often neglected. As many as one in five U.S. women has had a mental health condition like anxiety or depression in the past year.4 Alcohol or drug abuse is also common, he says. Many mental illnesses affect women differently than men, and bring along feelings of hopelessness, lack of motivation, worry and fear, digestive or sleeping problems, or other aches and pains.
Women are also more likely to be victims of violence in the home, which can have serious impact on both mind and body. In their lifetimes, 20 million American women will suffer from an eating disorder.5
If you’re struggling with self-esteem, sadness, isolation, or unmanageable stress, talk to a professional. Teladoc offers excellent care through phone or video-chat counseling.
If you haven’t valued the impact of your choices in these important areas, it’s not too late to alter your life’s path. You don’t have to surrender to poor health. Screen for diseases. Manage your conditions. Make important changes! If you’re a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, or a co-worker, remember that loved ones are counting on you. And you can depend on us to guide your way into a regular health routine and for treatment of non-emergency health problems. Call (1-800-Teladoc) or visit anytime.
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