The health issues that are unique to women include menstrual problems, pregnancy, child birth, menopause and the issues of the female reproductive system. In addition, women experience heart attack symptoms differently, show signs of anxiety & depression; suffer from Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), Osteoarthritis, and serious sexually transmitted diseases more often than men. Therefore, a better understanding of the unique health issues of women is a must for every woman to tackle them at the first go.
In women, heart disease – the number one killer in both men & women, is not diagnosed to the point that they succumb to the condition more often than men. The symptoms of heart disease are different in women; due to this the risk factors go undetected for quite a long period of time. It is therefore very important for a woman to know her own risk factors including familial history, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. High cholesterol is a major cause of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) in women; to avert it lifestyle modifications like exercise, healthy diet and stress free life are mandatory.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) develops several days before the period. It affects nearly about 75% of women during their childbearing years. PMS symptoms begin to appear during late 20s and early 30s. The symptoms can also appear any time between puberty and menopause. The most common symptoms of PMS include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, breast tenderness, depressed mood, changes in appetite, etc. Some women with PMS may develop cramps as well.
PMS appears to be caused by rising and falling levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which may influence brain chemicals, including serotonin, a substance that has a strong effect on mood.
Dietary changes & exercise may help relieve symptoms. When symptoms are severe, serotonergic antidepressant medication may be prescribed. It is thought that increased serotonin reduces PMS symptoms.
Osteoporosis: thinning of bones or porous bones is a silent disease that weakens the bones and makes them fragile. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men and, as the age advances, the risk augments and becomes more once menopause occurs. At the peak age – by age 30, bones become very strong & reach to a peak bone mass, which is determined by nutrition, genetics, exercise and menstrual function?. As you age the bones start to breakdown and the process speeds up as you approach menopause. In the first five to seven years following menopause, you can lose up to 20 percent of bone mass.
Exercise: the secret to better Bone health. Exercise is not only good for your bone health, but also for your overall health. As far as preventing and managing osteoporosis is concerned, two kinds of exercises are most effective: 1. resistance exercises – weight lifting exercises, and 2. weight bearing exercises: you work against gravity – for instance, pushups.
Women are particularly prone to UTIs as they have shorter urethras. The E.coli bacteria escaping the anus invade the urethra and then travel to bladder (if not treated) continue on to infect the kidneys as well. Poor hygiene is also one of the causes of UTIs in women.
Burning sensation during urination, frequent urge to urinate, tiredness, pain in your lower abdomen & back, pressure in the belly are some of the Symptoms of UTI. Permanent damage to the urinary tract, kidney failure and blood poisoning are some of the serious complications of UTIs. You should seek immediate medical help, if you are pregnant or diabetic and have high temperature along with malaise, lethargy, chills and vomiting.
A doctor evaluates you on the basis of symptoms, history, medications, lifestyle and physical examinations. The lab tests complete the evaluation. A quick urine dipstick test and then urine culture will help the doctor to confirm the infection. Urine analysis will help test the urine for signs of infections such as presence of blood, pus, epithelial cells and bacteria.
There is no sufficient evidence to prove why UTIs are common in women; however, the proximity of vagina to anus and short urethra may be the cause. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids, particularly cranberry juice as scientific evidence strongly shows that cranberries help prevent adhesion of bacteria to the bladder cells. After every bowel movement, wipe from front to back (Vagina to anus), not the other way – to prevent the entry of bacteria from anus to vagina.
Women can have a healthy life by getting early and regular health checkups. They should also get the recommended breast cancer, cervical cancer, and bone density screenings done to rule the future complications and risks.