Although men and women share health issues, females have unique health needs, risks, and concerns. Their. Women’s unique bodies and lifestyles explain their distinctive health issues. As women progress through life, health needs and concerns change to match their way of life and risks inherent to age.
Health Concerns by Age Although a woman’s age tends to affect her health concerns, breast cancer remains the number one worry, with every lump causing major anxiety. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women but doesn’t become prominent until her later years. According to Dr. Nancy Goler, a Kaiser Permanente ob-gyn and medical director, health concerns of women run the gamut from stress, cancer scares, and sexual questions/ problems, to weight control, diet, and heart disease. Women in their 20’s are most concerned about birth control, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Weight management and diet become a focus for women in their 30’s. Women in their 40s and 50s are more concerned with perimenopause and may be most nervous about breast health because they start knowing women being diagnosed. By the 60s and 70s, breast cancer starts to fall more into the background as a greater array of health worries arise, such as colon cancer, hypertension, and stroke. (1)
Weight is Is a Hot Topic Based on a recent survey, women are more concerned about diet/weight (56%) and eating right (36%) than cancer (23%), cardiovascular/heart health (20%), and diabetes (18%). (Ref. survey of 3,000 women by Meredith Corp./NBC Universal “What do Do Women Want?” survey in 2008.) While most women like who they are inside and are satisfied with their “identity and development as an individual” (68%), only 4 in 10 women say they are satisfied with their physical appearance (40%) and/or energy levels (37%). (2)
Activity and diet have value beyond just controlling weight. Stressful, over-programmed lives involving family and career lead to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets. Osteoporosis is a significant problem with many women, as well as decreased muscle tone. Women’s bone loss begins in the mid-30s onward, so exercise and diet should focus on bone density as well as heart health.
Stress is Is a Top Health Concern Stress may be a leading cause or contributor to many health issues in women. Most Many women admit to being stressed out and struggle to balance work and home life. Sources of stress range from taking care of young children and aging parents, working hard jobs for long hours, our 24-7 technology diet, and economic pressures of our society. Working moms go from their busy jobs outside the home to demands of the home/household, often managing solo. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 40% of children are born to single mothers. Today, one in three children – a total of 15 million – are being raised without a father and nearly half live below the poverty line. (3) This stress can impact a woman’s health.
Sex and Relationships-The Unmentionables! Sex, relationships, and health issues with the breasts or reproductive areas are often ignored when perhaps they should come first. Younger women seek information about relationships, sexually transmitted infections, birth control, and questions about their reproductive areas or breasts. Approximately half of sexually active people will be infected with an STI by age 25 (4), from benign (e.g., human papilloma virus) to more serious infections. However, few have the courage to openly discuss their concerns and seek information. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and child child-rearing become very important as women as enter childbearing status years. Infertility and problems with intercourse are common and a major issue for many women. In the 40’s and 50’s, perimenopause brings many questions and concerns. Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs.) Approximately half of sexually active people will be infected with an STI by age 25 (4), from benign (e.g., human papilloma virus) to more serious infections. Bring your sexual questions (that you are feel you are too embarrassed to ask) to a trusted healthcare professional.
Fear of hormone therapy and the Western medical approach has driven many women to complementary and alternative health solutions. There are very effective holistic approaches to treat all kinds of issues, from smaller, maybe embarrassing issues (e.g.,from breast pain with or pain with intercourse) to more serious issues like infections or pelvic pain. Find a therapist with knowledge, experience, and compassion with women’s health.
Looking to Look and Feel Better After the childbearing years, many some women’s seek cosmetic enhancements from such as tummy tucks and liposuction, to breast augmentations or reductions. Studies show that women are often more interested in looking better taking the “easier” surgical path to the basic road of exercise and diet. Stress, commitments, and limited energy often drive the busy woman to the surgical route, which may yield instant results. Many women often underestimate the pain and recovery with many of the liposuction and tummy tuck procedures. Regardless of which procedure is chosen, self-discipline with attention to exercise and diet are essential to continue looking and feeling better feeling well.
Back to Basics—Fighting the Big Health Risks Aging women will suffer from heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, and other health issues. Stress management, diet, exercise, and healthy living will not only make your younger years healthier, but are your biggest weapons to fight the diseases that women face in their later years. Studies indicate that stress, poor diet, and inactivity can be major contributors to heart disease, cancer, and strokes, the three leading causes of death in women. (5) Proper calcium intake can prevent or minimize osteoporosis. So focus on stress reduction, a good diet, and activity to be healthy and stay healthy.
“The burden of heart disease in women is very great,” says Gregory Burke, MD, professor and chairman of the department of public health sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “The earlier folks adapt healthier behaviors, the lower their overall risk for heart disease or stroke outcomes.” Burke says people can reduce their risk of heart disease by modifying lifestyles to include a well-balanced diet and exercise. (6)
How Do You Start? Start with a good night’s sleep! Then, ask yourself, what brings you energy, joy, or makes you laugh. ? With those answers, I urge you to make time for those things during the day or week or month. Being rested and feeling positive energy will give you the motivation to becoming healthier. You probably already know how to be healthy—you need the energy and motivation to do it! If you don’t know what these things are anymore, start small to find them—and build from there. A good therapist, personal trainer, or even a friend can help you get into balance and move forward.
1. “Real Answers to Women’s Health Questions,” http://unioncity.patch.com/groups/kaiser-permanente-east-bay/p/real-answers-to-womens-health-questions_217d5b47, 9/30/13 posted by Kaiser Permanente
2. “What Issues Matter Most to Women – Growing Financial Pressures on Family Life” http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/traditional/what-issues-matter-most-to-women-growing-financial-pressures-on-family-life-4365/
3. “Single Mother Statistics,” http://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/
4. American Sexual Health Association, http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/std-sti/std-statistics.html
5. “Leading Cause of Death in Females United States, 2010,” http://www.cdc.gov/women/lcod/2010/index.htm
6. “Women’s Top 5 Health Concerns, WebMD, Dulce Zamora,” http://www.webmd.com/women/features/5-top-female-health-concern
Steve Metzger, RN-CMT is an advanced Myofascial release therapist with Revive Therapy in Sacramento CA specializing in holistic women’s health and sports bodywork.