Women’s health goes far beyond just gynecology and obstetrics. Staying healthy requires a holistic approach to care, being cognizant of issues that can impact women differently than men. Arming yourself with this knowledge and awareness of health topics as they relate to women can help you live your healthiest life possible. Here are just a few:
More women experience strokes per year than men. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states one in five women in the United States will have a stroke in their lifetime, and 60% of all stroke deaths are women. Strokes appear to be slightly more prominent in women compared to men, as hormone therapy and pregnancy can increase risk. However, certain diseases can also bring greater risk of stroke in both men and women, such as atrial fibrillation and diabetes.
Many of the symptoms of heart disease are shared among men and women. These include chest pain, which can be described as a heaviness, pressure, squeezing or tightness of the chest; jaw pain; pain in one or both arms; unusual fatigue; dizziness and nausea. However, women may be more likely to present one or more of these symptoms without any chest pain at all. Because of this, heart disease can be easily overlooked. Be vigilant and speak with your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.
One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, so prevention and early detection are vital. Breast self-exams play an important role in finding breast cancer early. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stresses the importance of breast self-awareness, or knowing what is normal for your breasts and being aware of any changes in appearance or feel. A trained provider, most likely your doctor, will also perform a clinical breast exam at your annual wellness exam. For women of average risk for breast cancer, a yearly mammogram should begin at age 40 through at least age 75.
In addition to seeing your doctor for any chronic conditions, women are encouraged to schedule an annual wellness exam to discuss preventive care, including nutrition, physical activity, appropriate lab work, screenings and any other ways to stay in optimal health.
Caitlin Rogers, DO, is a BJC Medical Group primary care physician and obstetrics specialist at Progress West Hospital. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Rogers by calling 636.928.WELL.