5 – 11 September 2022 was Women’s Health Weeks. A time to concentrate of health issues specific to women. It was created in 2013 to remind women to look after their health and wellbeing and is a celebration of women and the health issue that are unique to them.
The statistics from Women Health Week official website tells us that women have visited their GP for the following reasons in the past 12 months.
65% of GP appointments are for mental health
8% health screening and preventative care
4% for drug and alcohol
21% for Covid vaccination
This year the focus was getting a health check, menopause matters, pelvic power, mind health and move and improve.
To honour this week, here is some further information on each topic from Womens Health Week.
It’s a good idea to know where you are at with your health, especially as we age. Regular health checks can help with preventative medicine as well as give you a baseline for your health. As we age we have different risks and different screening is required. Did you know that womens risk of heart disease increases around menopause. Skin checks are also really important, especially for those living in the sunnier climates. Mammograms, pap smear tests and bowel screening are also something that you should do on a regular basis. If you haven’t had a health check recently, now is the time to book one in.
Often a taboo subject and women don’t talk about their symptoms. Hormone changes start in your late 30’s and into your 40 in preparation for perimenopause and then menopause. Perimeonpause can last for 4 – 8 years and the average age for Menopause is 52. Everyone is different and may have different symptoms and timeframes. Some can go through early menopause or be force through requiring a hysterectomy. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also cause early menopause.
Some of the symptoms of perimenopause are:
Changes in periods – some can be light, some may be heavy
Low sex drive
Fatigue and lethargy
The absence of menstrual periods for 1 year confirms menopause. If you do experience any bleeding after this time then you should consult your doctor.
This is about the health of your pelvic floor and bladder. It can include light bladder leakage, pelvic pain and painful sex. Strengthen your pelvic floor with exercises such as squeeze and release, bridge and squats. Light bladder leakage affects up to 30% of women aged 18-45. If you do have light bladder leakage you can know get underwear such as the Modibodi Ultra incontinence instead of having to wear pads all the time. Child birth and pregnancy, having a chronic cough and too much caffeine can all attribute to light bladder leakage. Constipation can also have an affect of the bladder and cause leakage.
Pelvic pain can be caused by a number of different conditions and the common ones are constipation, period pain, bloating or gas, endometriosis or urinary tract infections. You should see a doctor if the pain is consistent, becomes intolerable, it the pain is sudden and severe, or is it isn’t normal for you and has you concerned. If you are worried and if isn’t taken seriously be persistent or see another doctor.
From the statistics on the women health week page we can see that more people see their doctor about mental health than anything else. Over the last few years peoples mental health has suffered from various lockdowns, being isolated and not being able to life how they want. Looking after our mental health is as important as looking after our physical health. Learning to deal with stress, having me time and being able to talk about the issues affecting you go a long way to keeping it in check.
Some ways to look after your mental health include:
· Self care
· Being kind to yourself
· Get some sunshine
· Drink plenty of water
· Reduce your caffeine
· Colouring in
· Try something new
· Spend time outside
· Take up a hobby
· Breathing exercises
· Listen to a podcast or music
· Eat a healthy balance diet.
Mind health also includes looking after the health of your brain and addressing brain fog and looking at dementia.
Just like doing exercise for 30 minutes a day to look after your physical health, take 30 minutes a day to look after your mental health.
Move and improve
Physical activity doesn’t only help your body, it also helps your mind and improves your immune system. Going for a walk outdoors is a simple yet effective exercise. Increase your movement throughout the day. If you have a desk job, only put a glass of water on your desk so you have to get up and get another glass regularly, use the stairs where possible, stand up and stretch throughout the day. Schedule regular exercise into your day to experience the benefits.
Sedentary behaviours are on the increase so making sure that you move throughout the day reduce physical inactivity. It will help keep you moving into old age as well, improves flexibility and reduce the risk of falls. In Australia more than 55% of adults do not get the recommended amount of physical activity every day. The more inactive you are the higher the likelihood of you getting chronic disease.
Recommendations are 2.5 – 5 hours of moderate activity such as walking or 1.25 – 2.5 hours of vigorous activity and 2 days per week should have some sort of muscle strengthening activity.
As we age we want to maintain a great level of health so it is important to get regular health checks, eat well, look after our mental health, get regular exercise, quality sleep, and drink plenty of water.
For more information please contact me.