It is often told in healthcare communities that women are more forthcoming about their healthcare issues than men and see their doctors more often than men. They are also more vocal about physical and mental problems in general, but critically, women seek help earlier than men when a problem occurs whereas men tend to wait until problems have progressed much further. It would be easy to conclude that these factors result in better healthcare outcomes for women than men, but significant disadvantages specifically challenge women’s health. Greater awareness is necessary to ensure women’s health is prioritized by women, their families and their healthcare professionals like women’s health clinic Brisbane northside
Unlike men, women stop adding calcium to their bones at around 30. This means that prior to hitting 30, women need to prioritize building strong healthy bones. Past this age, women’s bones begin a slow state of deterioration, which culminates in women developing osteoporosis more than men. Older women also have a higher chance of having broken bones than men.
Strong bones can be built by regular strength building exercise such as weight lifting and pilates. Women also need to increase calcium rich foods in their diet such as milk, cheese, almonds. Daily multivitamins specific to women may also be useful, but calcium absorbed through diet is much more effective than multivitamins, which may often not be absorbed by the body.
Menstrual blood loss in women often result in anaemia in women. This is often accompanied by cold hand and feet, and general lethargy. Often women experience these symptoms for so long that they feel nothing unnatural about it and do not seek out help. However, anaemia can have severe negative impacts on women’s productivity and general health. Iron loss can also put pressure on women’s livers which can lead to problems down the track.
Women need to tackle the root causes of their anaemia. If excessive menstrual blood loss is an issue, healthcare professionals can help check for hormonal imbalance or other problems in the reproductive system such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis. Other issues could be poor iron absorption by the body. This could be treated by increasing iron in the diet through iron rich foods or supplements. Vitamin C also helps iron absorption, so eating steak and orange juice together is best. Care needs to be taken about consuming both calcium enriched foods along with iron enriched foods or supplements for the same meal, as the body will always prioritize calcium absorption over iron when given the chance. Thus, drinking milk before a steak dinner is best avoided.
Migraines are more prevalent in women than men. Migraines are often severe pain in one side of the head, which can spread to the face and neck and is also accompanied by shooting pain behind the eye.
Unfortunately, there is sparse research on this topic and not a lot is understood about why women develop migraines and what to do about them. Women are prescribed general pain relief medications for migraines such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen and these are best taken at the early onset stages of a migraine. Once a migraine is full strength, pain medication is rarely useful at alleviating headache.
Women with migraines should pay attention to smells, tastes or other stimuli that can trigger their migraines and do their best to avoid them. They should also keep handy over the counter pain medication to take at the onset of a migraine. Consuming pain relief medication should be combined with rest in a dark room, as light can worsen migraines.
Back pain in women can result from poor posture when sitting or lifting. Many women also experience lower back pain post birth, as core muscles supporting the back are weakened in the birthing process. Poor posture during breast feeding can also contribute to back pain. Back pain in women is worsened by the fact that women have weaker bones than men, thus they tend to develop more spinal issues.
Prevention is better than cure, especially for back pain. Correcting posture and diet for strong healthy bones is key. Post-partum women should pay special attention to recovery of their core muscles that support the back, by doing core strengthening exercises and seeking help from a physiotherapist or chiropractor as necessary. Back pain worsens if left untreated. Pain medications and over the counter back rubs may offer temporary relief but does not tackle the underlying cause of back pain.
Heart disease in women is different from men. The severe chest pain commonly associated with heart attacks in men is missing in women. Women may thus often miss the fact that they are having a heart attack and often show up to hospitals after the fact. Menopause, diabetes and stress all increase the risk of heart attacks specifically in women than men. Pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes can also increase risk of heart attacks in women.
Heart disease and attacks can be prevented through regular exercise and a balanced nutritious diet with the aim of maintaining a healthy weight and normal blood pressure. Medications to lower blood pressure can also help.
While type two diabetes is on the rise in both men and women, many advances in diabetes treatment has been effective in men, but not in women. It is theorized that this is because women have a different hormonal and inflammatory system than men. Diabetes, like heart disease, is often missed in women as it too develops differently in women than men. Some symptoms unique to women include sexual dysfunction, urinary tract infections, vaginal infections and thrush and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Recommended treatment for diabetes include medications that lower circulating lipids such as statins or insulin normalizing drugs such as metformin. Lifestyle changes, including reduced stress, regular uninterrupted sleep at night, exercise and a good diet also can work miracles.
While many advances have been made in breast cancer treatment, many cancers specific to women such as ovarian cancer and endometrial cancers have death rates as high as 90%. This is contributed to lack of deep understanding of the progression and onset of these cancers and how women’s hormones affect them.
Developing treatments women’s cancers remain a significant challenge for the scientific community. In the meantime, prevention is the best option. Latest genetic tests can predict one’s chances of developing certain cancers and preventative surgery can be undertaken to stop cancer onset. Known family history is also a predictor of cancer development.
There is a lot of misconception of post-partum depression. Women may believe that it manifests as sadness. However, often post-partum “depression” is felt as anxiety and a feeling of lack of control. This is especially true for first time mothers today, who are used to having control at work or study, but are extremely surprised by the unpredictability of babies. Anxiety is also common when faced with changing relationships with their partners and other family members such as their own parents, who upon becoming grandparents may offer all sorts of conflicting advice. Post-partum depression many also manifest not immediately after birth, but a few months or even a couple of years later, especially if the woman started with a strong support system that fades with time.
Seeing a psychologist to talk through their anxiety and sadness is a must to treat post-partum depression. Sometimes medication is needed, however medication alone without counselling is often ineffective. Establishing a sustainable support system for the mother to help her transition into motherhood is also extremely important as a treatment for postpartum depression.
A word about medicine doses
Many drug doses recommended on the packet have been tested on men and not women. However, women metabolize drugs differently than men. For example, the recommended dose of Ambien is based on men, and for women induce extreme sleepiness such that they are not fully awake in the morning either and may feel lethargic throughout the day. This many apply to many other drugs in the market. Speak to your health practitioner about how drug doses are specifically affecting you if you feel the recommended dose is not working effectively.
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