There are a few basic things we all know that we can do to be healthy: eat well, don’t smoke, and exercise once in awhile. But, there are more health considerations that you don’t realize affect you as a woman, particularly.
No, it’s not low carb or vegan, and it doesn’t have to do with crystals or detoxes.
There are things that affect women more than they affect men. These are things that you must know for your health (other than basic health advice). It’s important to know women-specific ailments, since women are less likely to have their pain treated. Knowing what could be affecting you (other than your uterus) can help you figure out what’s going on.
Women are three times more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease which inflames the joints. That means that people with RA have an immune system that attacks their own cells. Treatment is hard, and only prevents the symptoms. But when you’re old, the preventative care you do now could be the difference between walking or using a wheelchair. Determining what is causing your pain is important.
Celiac disease is another autoimmune disease, though this genetic disorder affects your immune system by attacking your gut when you eat gluten. It can be treated by cutting gluten from your diet, and it only affects a very small number of people. If you’ve tried cutting dairy and red meat from your diet and still have terrible stomach pains, try not eating bread or drinking beer. This might prevent future symptoms.
Stress is making women sick. It can make anyone sick, but women are typically far more stressed than men. They might eat better than men, but they are doing way more work than their partners —and it’s affecting their health. Doing chores (and other unpaid work) around the house and worrying about being undervalued at work can seriously affect women’s stress levels (coincidentally, western women are twice as likely to be stressed than their male counterparts!). That means that even though you are spending more money investing in the lower-health costs later in life, you will still have to deal with the additional health costs of stress. It really bites that eating healthier than other people won’t counteract stress related to gender inequality (a societal problem).
If women are ever financially and socially equal in work and pay, women could see years added to their lives. Take your years back; remove stress from your life, and demand equality.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, men and women alike. But, women are less likely to be treated for a heart condition. A big contributing factor to undertreatment is that women may exhibit atypical heart attack symptoms, like jaw or back pain. Women are more likely to go untreated because of this. And that’s as serious as a heart attack. Sore, burning sensations in your back, jaw, or shoulder, could be the signs of a heart attack, and should be addressed with your doctor (especially if accompanied by ‘heartburn’). Be alert for these symptoms, you could be having a heart attack.
Or your ovaries, or outside of them?! Your lady-bits are an understudied scientific mystery. If you’re having pain, these common, but severely undertreated conditions could be to blame.
A shocking 10% of women have endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body. It can be an incredibly painful disorder, or just something to watch (as it can grow to be potentially deadly). The tissue could grow on old surgical scars, in the bowel, on your liver, or in your brain. Most people do not have symptoms, but those who do often have pain during bowel movements, sex, or during their menstrual cycle.
Other undertreated lady conditions include things like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which affects 5-10% of women. It can be quite painful, and even affect your hormones. Symptoms are similar to other hormonal conditions, and include unusual hairiness, persistent acne, and weight gain.
Being in pain is the worst; it adds stress and reduces your quality of life. These are hard-to-treat conditions, but finding a solution is better than suffering in silence.
Men are far more likely to have mesothelioma, because men are more likely to hold jobs that expose them to asbestos. But that doesn’t mean women can’t get mesothelioma. Washing work clothes, or just being around guardians when they came home covered in asbestos dust has exposed many women to this risk. Knowing your risk levels can help you schedule early testing, which is fantastic, since catching it early aids your chance of survival. Even if you have never worked around asbestos, getting tested can help you start treatment (or prevention) early. Women are less likely to get mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, but they are also less likely to know they were exposed.
On a positive note: women still live the longest. Avoiding excessive smoking, drinking, and engaging in safer past-times has expanded the female lifespan. In addition to getting therapy for curable diseases , reducing stress and pursuing healthier habits could help women expand their lifespans.
Guest Blog: Mary Grace