It’s May and if you visit North Country Hospital on a Wednesday be prepared to see a lot of PINK! Each May we set aside Wednesdays for a chance to bring awareness to Women’s Health Month by wearing pink. Although pairing pink with women’s health may seem cliché, it is still a way we can show our support and raise awareness for all the health issues that are unique to women. After all, women are known to live longer than men; they often have to work harder and longer to try to close the wage gap, and according to research, 20% less likely to seek medical attention when needed. With women making up just less than 50% of the world’s population you can see that taking their health seriously is highly important. So whether you are a woman, or you know one and love one, keep reading to hear about why taking care of your health matters, woman or not.
The number one killer of women is still heart disease. Heart disease can be caused by genetic factors but can also be a result of many other lifestyle choices. Poor diet, lack of exercise, mismanaged stress and smoking all play key roles in heart disease. One way to be on top of your risk, regardless of gender, is to be making sure you visit your doctor each year for preventive visits. These will almost always include checking your blood pressure and maybe even routine blood tests that help to check other common denominators of heart disease such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Some people will also have other tests like, “stress tests,” or EKG’s, etc. Hearts are really important! They pump the blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Make your heart health a priority, woman or not.
Speaking of preventive visits, they aren’t just about heart health. Preventive visits are a must for early detection when it comes to breast, cervical, colon and many other cancers. Alongside early detection are other preventive tools such as vaccines. Depending on your health needs, you may be a strong candidate for a flu shot, shingles vaccine, tetanus and other vaccines that can help you from severe illness or medical emergencies. Talk with your health care provider and what is best for you at this stage in your life. As we age we have different needs and sometimes require more or less attention in different areas. If your doctor is suggesting a colonoscopy, mammogram or other test don’t ignore it. That test may just be a lifesaver. Prevention is important for all bodies, women or not.
Emotional health is a real thing. Dealing with emotional stress, anxiety, depression or even grief can really take a toll on a person. Emotionally unwell people tend to not eat properly, or sometimes not at all or way too much. They rarely take time for exercise or adequate sleep. When someone is experiencing emotional distress you can start to see it move into other areas such as their work life, home life, relationships and more. Taking time to care for your emotional health can include journaling, exercise, therapy, walks with a good friend, laughter and sometimes all a woman needs is some quiet time alone, with no interruptions. Think about what you need and make it a priority. Emotional health is so important whether you are a woman or not.
We can all play a role in women’s health month by being good friends, family members, spouses and partners to the women in our life. Encourage them to live their best life now that incorporates healthy habits. Encourage each other to make time for prevention visits or if you hear they are struggling with symptoms, encourage them to seek the medical attention they may very well need. If you are a woman set an example by doing so yourself. When we make the effort to take care of all the areas in our life, we are more able to live long, strong and productive lives. Go to your checkups, seek support for stress, exercise, eat really great healthy food and have fun! You don’t have to be Wonder Woman to be healthy, but you do have to make the effort, time and quality decisions if you want to be. And that goes for everybody, women or not.