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Women’s Health Issues We Don’t Talk About Enough

Women’s Health Issues We Don’t Talk About Enough

Medical science in the United States is skewed toward male issues, as are drug trials and treatments. Women represent half the adult population around the world and yet are often left out of discussions about and research into health issues. In addition, 84% of women sometimes feel that their healthcare professionals don’t listen to them. 

Knowledge of potential health issues lets you take control of your future. At Enrich Family Practice, our expert nurse practitioners promote women’s health through annual wellness exams and other services at our Odessa, Texas, clinic. We encourage you to contact us when you have a question or worry about your health.

The following are just a few health issues that women don’t discuss enough. 

Perimenopause and menopause

Considering the fact that every menstruating woman who lives long enough will eventually go into menopause, there’s little discussion about what that entails, what to expect, and how to manage this critical “change of life.” While menopause officially begins 12 months after your last period, the changes start far earlier.

By your 40s and even earlier, your hormones start to shift downward. That’s one of the reasons you should start trying to get pregnant before age 35 if you want children. But the drop in hormones affects more than your fertility.

Many signs of aging — such as wrinkles, hair loss, and weight gain around the middle — are due to downward shifts in estrogen and progesterone. We may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage menopause symptoms.

Osteopenia and osteoporosis

Although aging men may develop osteoporosis, too, it’s much more common in women. In the United States, one in two women and one in four men will break a bone due to low bone density at some point in their lives.

Building bone mass in younger years through a healthy diet and plenty of high-impact exercise is essential to prevent bone loss. Postmenopausal women with risk factors and those over 65 should have regular DXA scans to keep tabs on bone health. 

At any age, bone-nourishing supplements and foods help. Women should do regular resistance training to build stronger bones and muscles that support them. 

Stroke and heart disease

Heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the US. Stroke is number four.

You can lower your cardiovascular and stroke risk through lifestyle changes. Losing weight, exercising regularly, and adopting a healthy diet are good first steps.

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and menopause can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Also, let us know if your mother or grandmother had a history of heart disease or stroke. 

UTIs and STIs

Women’s urogenital anatomy makes them more susceptible to both urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, women get 30 times as many UTIs as men do. Almost half of women who get one UTI get another within six months.

Women are also more at risk for STIs and may not notice symptoms as quickly as men do because most of their reproductive organs are internal. To stay safe, test regularly for STIs when you’re sexually active, and contact us if you notice any unusual symptoms.

Ovarian and cervical cancer

The conversation around breast cancer in women is robust. Most women know to get an annual or biannual mammogram starting at around age 40 to ensure that, if they have breast cancer, it’s caught at a treatable and even curable phase.

Ovarian cancer is less well-known but more deadly. Cervical cancer is also potentially deadly, but like breast cancer, it’s curable.

If you see your OB/GYN annually for a well-woman visit, you may already be receiving a screen for cervical cancer. That unwelcome Pap test provides welcome information about the health of your cervix, which is the opening to your uterus.

Depending on your age and sexual activity, your OB/GYN schedules your Pap tests to keep tabs on your cervical health. At that time, we may also administer a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the primary cause of uterine cancer.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal screening procedure for ovarian cancer. If you have ovarian cysts, you may want to keep tabs on them with annual ultrasound studies. Or, if you’re at high risk, you may opt for a blood test that can detect the presence of ovarian tumors.

 Stay healthy by booking your annual well-woman exam, or contact us with questions at 432-200-9052. Or, you can use our convenient online form to schedule your appointment.

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