May 12–18 marks National Women’s Health Week. The main focus is to raise awareness about manageable steps women can take to improve their overall health. It is important to practice positive health behaviors every day.
Although there are many health concerns women should take caution about, today we are going to talk about five of the most common.
Bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV, is a very common genital infection. Often this infection is referred to ask the “silent” infection because two in five women have it, but 84% of cases go undiagnosed.
Here are some signs of bacterial vaginosis to look out for:
- A “fishy” odor
- Atypical discharge
- Burning during urination
Just because you experience these symptoms, it does not guarantee you have BV – although BV may develop if these symptoms go untreated.
There are many ways bacterial vaginosis can be prevented, starting with hygiene. Many women swear by “douching,” but what they don’t realize is that douching could be contributing to the odor, itching, or burning that they are trying to eliminate. The trouble with douching is that it completely washes out the inside of your vagina – plus many contain harsh chemicals such as paraben preservatives. Since your vagina is naturally self-cleaning, when you purge it of the good bacteria (lactobacilli), you’re left with only bad bacteria (anaerobes) which throws off your vagina’s natural bacterial ecosystem.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Risk factors tend to be: increasing age, early menstruation, menopause after age 55, and genetics. Although breast cancer is very dangerous there are a lot of treatments.
But what are some things you can do if you're worried about breast cancer?
Start with a breast self-exam once a month. This will help you start to feel comfortable with how your breasts feel in case of an abnormal lump or pain. Following your self-exam, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional for a clinical breast exam. These are important as you may have missed something or not know exactly what to look for. And, if you're 55 or older, sign yourself up for a mammogram. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. They also can show tiny clusters of calcium called microcalcifications, which can be caused by cancer.
Try not to ignore anything that feels unusual or painful and make sure to keep up on your exams.
Studies show that in 2018, there will be over 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed and an estimated 4,000 women will die from it. Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix. The symptoms can include vaginal bleeding, increased vaginal discharge, and pain during sex. Fortunately, cervical cancer is a type of gynecological cancer that can be prevented with routine screenings.
What are the screenings we are referring to? The pap test.
A Pap test is a test for cancer of the cervix, consisting of the staining of cervical cells taken in a cervical or vaginal smear for examination of exfoliated cells.
Now, try not confuse a Pap test with a pelvic exam. Although your gynecologist may choose to do a Pap test during an overall pelvic exam, they are usually done separately. Pap tests are recommended to help prevent cervical cancer, but there are additional ways you can make sure you are doing everything you can to avert this type of cancer. Here are just a few:
- Use condoms
- Get vaccinated against HPV (for those who get vaccines)
- Eliminate smoking
These are just a few things professionals recommend for helping to prevent cervical cancer.
Depression is another health concern for women as it is twice as likely to affect women than men. Some reasons for high depression rates in women stem from hormones, social pressures, and just simply the female response to stress.
There are a few things you might want try if you are suffering from depression:
- Therapy is always a good choice if you just need someone to listen who has an unbiased opinion. There are a lot of great therapists that specialize in treating depression.
- Engaging in activities is healthy and provides a distraction. A lot of times you find depression to linger if you allow yourself to sit in it and let it consume you.
- Meditation, exercise, and sleepare very important for a balanced life and help with reducing stress levels that result in depression.
Depression is serious and can lead to many different health issues such as high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, eating disorders, and heart disease.
If you believe you have depression, look into trying some of these ideas from the list above – it may change your life.
Around 27% of all female deaths are accounted for by heart disease which kills 500,000 women annually. That accounts for more women than all forms of cancer combined. Since this is a huge risk for women, we need to be more mindful of what we can do to prevent heart disease.
It is important to stay physically active to help strengthen your heart. Morning gym sessions or afternoon hikes with friends can help keep your heart healthy. Another important thing to keep in mind is your blood sugar. Overconsumption of unhealthy fats (saturated fats or trans fatty acids) and underconsumption of healthy fats (monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids) can put you at greater risk for heart disease.
Depression and anxiety can also have a huge impact on your heart. From the article on WebMD called Anxiety, Depression May Triple Heart Patients Death Risk, Dr. Gregg Fonarow says “Depression and anxiety have both been individually associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and in patients with cardiovascular disease [they are] associated with higher risk of recurrent cardiovascular events and death."
As you can see, heart disease is no joke and preventions should be taken seriously. Just remember to not smoke (as smoking is a risk factor), manage your blood sugar, exercise your heart, and keep stress levels low.
Women’s health is important to Good Clean Love. That is why we make products that keep women feeling their absolute best from the inside out!