When it comes to your health, there’s no doubt that privacy is important. You shouldn’t feel obliged to tell anyone about health issues you’re facing, have faced, or may be at risk of facing. However, there’s a lot of information and insight that’s too valuable to not be shared due to shame, embarrassment, or fear alone. When talking with daughters, sisters, close friends, and partners, addressing the risks and the potential problems we’re facing can open the gates to learning more and taking action we didn’t know we could take. Here are some issues in women’s health we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about.
One of the demonstrable cases that have proven the effectiveness of more exposure and more awareness is breast cancer. Women are more aware of the risks, more know how to perform self-examinations and more know that a positive outcome is likely the earlier you seek help with it. However, there are other regular health checks that women should take, as well, from HPV tests to cervical smears. Make sure you’re aware of what checks you should be making more regularly in order to catch any potential threats earlier and make dealing with them all the easier.
The big change
From mothers to daughters, and sometimes big sisters to little sisters, a lot of confusion and fright can be cleared by getting the topic of puberty out of the way. It may be awkward, especially for those who don’t or rarely talk about reproductive health. Not only is having “the talk” important, but it’s also valuable to share your own experiences of puberty to help them understand that they are not going through this alone. Help with finding and fitting bras and using pads and tampons can make them all the more aware that there are practical ways to deal with the changes they’re undergoing, too.
The other big change
From one major hormonal change to the next, menopause can be just as alien to those going through it for the first time and may even be a little frightening if you don’t know what to expect. Symptoms like irregular or missed periods, sudden insomnia, hot flushes, bladder control problems, and changes in libido can seemingly point to a hundred other more serious health issues, especially in cases of premature menopause, which can be caused premature ovarian failure or as a result of treatment of uterine cancer or endometriosis. Being proactive with your health and highlight major changes in mood and your body can help you more quickly identify the change for what it is, easing worries before they have a chance to grow.
Body, image, and self
Though it might not be obviously and immediately connected to our health, our body image and self-confidence can have a knock-on effect on our emotional wellbeing that can be difficult to overcome. Getting body confident is crucial, especially in a world with a media constantly throwing expectations of unattainable beauty standards at our face. These are shown to affect young women and teenagers most deeply. Talking to our younger sisters (not just those in the family) about body confidence and learning to accept and appreciate natural beauty can help them develop the confidence they need to avoid some of the more harmful coping mechanisms out there.
Mind your head
The taboos around emotional and mental health are slowly breaking down as more and more people come out to talk about it, but that doesn’t provide much relief from the fear that many people suffering from those issues feel. Stress, anxiety, and depression are very common among women, especially teenage women. Simply finding a place to talk and be heard, such as found at 12 Kinds of Kindness, can help them understand that many others have the same, or at least similar, experiences as them. What’s more, addressing the options, from medication to lifestyle changes to counseling, can help them feel like there are real options out there that they can turn to when they are ready.
Sexual health may be a taboo subject for some, but there’s no doubt that we would all be much more aware of the risks and what to do about them if we were better educated so perhaps it’s time to address that taboo. Being aware of when there is an issue and the potential solutions out there can help you get much more comfortable with intimacy again. STIs are some of the most common culprits of embarrassment, but when even the seemingly scary chlamydia can be treated effectively with Doxycycline 100mg, it’s not worth being unaware of the solutions. If you’re concerned with any aspect of your sexual health, seeking help from your doctor as soon as possible is the single best solution.
Questions about fertility
When having issues with fertility, it can be an incredibly isolating experience. Most women going through it might not be aware of the fact that their problems are shared with one-in-six couples. What’s more, women more often receive the brunt of the perceived “responsibility” for fertility issues when the truth is that the problem is just as often with the male and most often due to conditions affecting both partners at the same time. From providing advice on treatments to simply listening, empathizing, and sharing your own stories, talking more about fertility can help many of the women who are struggling feel less alone and less like there is something personally wrong about them, helping them maintain their self-esteem during an exceedingly tough time.
The bones of the issue
One health check that isn’t quite as often discussed as breast cancer screenings or pap smears is the bone density test. Women are much more prone to issues related to the bones, such as osteoporosis. While it mostly affects women over 65, it can also happen to younger women with a higher risk, whether it’s due to family history, dietary habits, weight, or hormonal imbalances in the body. Similarly, arthritis and other joint inflammation issues affect many more women than men. Those little aches and pains may be symptoms of a deeper problem, so teaching others to be more aware of them and their need to check them out can help them catch these chronic health issues when they’re easier to manage.
The silent killer
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths affecting the population. While it does affect men more than it affects women, there is another problem that this creates. Women tend to be underdiagnosed, and many of the symptoms of heart disease can be attributed to other health issues. Because women are less likely to develop the condition, they are less likely to be active in preventing heart disease. From giving the boot to bad habits like smoking and taking too much caffeine to monitoring your cholesterol levels and getting more physical activity in your life, there is a lot that can be done to reduce your risk of heart disease even further, but assuming it won’t hit you is never a wise move.
If you want to broach a topic regarding your health, the health of another, or even fears you want to address, having a safe space to do so and a safe pair of ears to confide in can help much more than you might think. From learning more about shared experiences to getting real help in finding a direction towards some plans to deal with it, we have a lot more to offer one another if we’re open to talking about it.