International day for women’s health is celebrated on 28th May every year to celebrate improving access to women’s healthcare and to increase awareness about women’s health. The main goal is to improve overall physical, mental and emotional health among women of all ages. Women and men share many similar health problems, but women have their health issues, which deserve special consideration. Women’s lives have changed over the centuries. Historically, life was particularly difficult for most women. Every woman must have access to knowledge related to the spectrum of women’s health issues, not only about her reproductive system but about all aspects of her body. 

Health issues in women include gynaecological and non-gynaecological issues. Some general diseases are more common in women than in men like gall-bladder stones, urinary tract infections, migraines, osteoporosis and auto-immune conditions. Gynaecological issues include menstrual problems due to PCOS, fibroids, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts; cancers of the breast, cervix and ovary; problems related to sex, contraception, fertility, pregnancy planning, breastfeeding; menopause and post-menopausal problems.

1. PCOS: 

PCOS is a lifestyle disease and has steeply gone up due to sedentary lifestyles. It can cause period irregularities, hair fall on the scalp, acne, unwanted hair growth, mood swings, resistant weight, fertility issues and future chances of diabetes. Do not neglect it. Consult the gynaecologist to see whether any medicines are required. But along with it maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. In PCOS, diet modifications include reducing refined carbohydrates like refined flours, sugars, and rice and including complex carbohydrates like millets, oats, whole grains, proteins, and fiber food. Regular aerobic exercise and being active throughout the day will make a huge difference.

2. Menstrual problems:

Heavy flow, painful periods, irregular periods, and PMS are well known but commonly misunderstood among the general population. Taboos, discrimination, stigma, and labelling are very common at home and the workplace due to these problems and so are not addressed properly. Menstrual hygiene is an underestimated topic. Increasing awareness in schools, and offices regarding these topics and making period products available encourages to development of healthy habits. Any period-related issues have to be consulted at the earliest to prevent long term problems.

3. Cancers of breast, cervix, ovary:

These are common cancers in women. Regular awareness campaigns, HPV vaccination, regular screening, early consult, and a healthy lifestyle including reducing smoking, alcohol, and red meat intake decrease the chances of getting cancers and also improves early detection, better survival rates and good prognosis.

4. Pregnancy issues:

Good nutrition, regular pregnancy care routine, routine follow-ups with the obstetrician, taking supplements and vaccination as advised, and spousal and family support improve pregnancy outcomes. Talk to your obstetrician about popular myths and debunk them.

5. Mental health:

Depression and anxiety disorders are stigmatized in society and so are under-addressed. Early identification and treatment positively mould the future. It requires immense family support and support from work colleagues.

DR. MEGHANA REDDY JETTY, MBBS, MS (OBG), FMAS, DMAS, FIART, PGDMLS., Senior Consultant - Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Laparoscopic surgery

BirthRight By Rainbow Hospitals, Marathahalli, Bengaluru

6. Sexually transmitted infections:

There are several different sexually transmitted infections or STIs. They can be either bacterial or viral, and they can be transmitted through blood, other body fluids or skin-to-skin contact. Their impact on your health can range from mildly irritating to devastating. Proper awareness of safe-sex practices and understanding of symptoms will reduce suffering due to these.

7. Menopause:

The term menopause is used to describe a period in a woman’s life where menstrual cessation happens, and a woman goes through lots of changes in the body. Strictly speaking, a woman is said to have experienced menopause when she has had 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. She goes through a multitude of symptoms of hot flashes, lack of interest in daily routine, weak bones (osteoporosis), and weak general and heart health. Maintaining good nutrition, a regular exercise routine, and regular health screening alleviates most problems.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2022 11:38:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/brandhub/healthier-women-for-a-healthier-future/article65475359.ece