Introduction to Women’s Health

“When women take care of their health, they become their own best friend.” – Maya Angelou [1]

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year, and it’s a time to focus on women’s achievements and strengths in all areas of society. Discussions on women’s health and how to improve the existing system to focus more on female health concerns are an important part of the day [2]

According to the National Institutes of Health, women have some very specific health concerns compared to men. These include gynecological issues, pregnancy concerns, infertility disorders like uterine fibroids, menopause, ovarian and cervical cancers, breast cancer, and other specific medical conditions.  

Furthermore, heart health is crucial for women. The World Heart Federation states that coronary heart disease is responsible for a third of all deaths among women worldwide. Also, bone health often deteriorates for women during menopause, and this is one of the reasons that women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men [3].

The theme of International Women’s Day for 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge.’ This asks you to push yourself, to have the confidence to move forward and reach your goals [2]. We invite you to challenge yourself to improve your physical and mental health by incorporating some of these new habits.

The Best Health Habits for Women

1. See Your Doctors Regularly

Regular medical checkups
One of the most important healthy lifestyle choices involves getting regular medical checkups and keeping in touch with your family doctor about any physical or mental changes you notice. You should have a general physical every year, including blood tests and a blood pressure check to make sure that there aren’t any major issues.

Another key component of women’s health care is finding a good gynecologist you trust and keeping up your sexual health. It’s no longer necessary to make an appointment once a year, as it was in the past. However, it depends on the individual. Discuss this with your gynecologist and decide how often you should meet.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water is part of a healthy lifestyle since it both prevents dehydration and supports every bodily organ. The standard for how much water you should drink is 4-6 glasses of water per day. However, you should check specifically with your doctor because people with certain conditions or taking certain medications should drink less [4]

Other benefits of water include aiding digestion, regulating body temperature, taking nutrients and oxygen to the cells, cushioning the joints and organs, and regulating body temperature (4). Consider resolving for International Women’s Day to drink more water!

3. Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle as it’s important to numerous areas of the body and mind. Getting a good, solid sleep every night impacts your brain health and cognition. You particularly need it for attention span and clarity of thinking. 

Besides, memories are consolidated while you sleep, so sleeping poorly can negatively affect memory [5]. It also plays an important role in regulating mood and emotions. An article in Cureus explored the association between sleep deprivation and anger. 

4. Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Protect Your Skin from the Sun
The sun can do tremendous damage to your skin, and it can speed up aging. This could cause wrinkles, lines, and age spots to develop on your face and neck. 

You should always wear sunscreen, with a minimum of SPF 30, when you go outside even in the winter. It is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Also, if the sun is particularly bright, consider wearing a hat. You’ll be grateful you did later in life when your skin is in good condition.

5. Get Tested for STDs

You don’t necessarily have to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases on a set schedule, but as part of a healthy lifestyle, you should do so when you are starting a new relationship. If you have several partners, consider getting tested every few months, as well as practicing safe sex to protect you from the disease. 

If you notice symptoms like redness, rash, bumps, or discharge, especially near your genitals, go to a gynecologist and get an examination right away. 

6. Find the Right Contraception for You

Sexual health and birth control are a key part of women’s health care. A literature review in the Journal of Sex Research found that contraception has a huge effect on women’s sexual well-being. When choosing a birth control method, it must be very individual and based on several factors and personal values. 

For example, not everyone wants to take birth control pills because you’re consuming hormones, and there are religious objections to some methods like the IUD. Read up and research each approach carefully and then have a conversation about women’s health care and contraception with your gynecologist.

Sexual health, reproductive rights, and access to birth control are important themes for International Women’s Day. Research shows that there are more barriers for women worldwide concerning assessment and treatment for sexual health [6].

7. Find an Exercise or Sport You Love

regular exercise habit
Carrying out regular exercise several times a week is one of the best healthy lifestyle choices. Physical activity can help you manage your weight, support your brain health, strengthen bones and muscles, reduce your risk of many diseases, and improve your quality of life [7].

The key to doing regular exercise and keeping up with it is to find an activity you love to do that you’ll look forward to doing. It can be yoga, aerobics, or some kind of sport you love like skiing, walking, or swimming. Make exercise a part of your healthy lifestyle choices.

8. Consume a Healthy Diet

Making healthy lifestyle choices involves consuming proper nutrition daily and staying away from foods that can be damaging to your body. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and fatty fish with omega-3 fatty acids.

Include foods with antioxidants, like berries, leeks, seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts, garlic, mangoes, and grapes [8], which strengthen your immune system. Avoid things like sugar, trans fat, extra salt, and processed foods, which could harm your health.

9. Keep Up Your Heart Health

Heart problems affect many women, so you must make healthy lifestyle choices that support heart wellness. This involves many of the points already discussed, such as following a nutritious diet, exercising, having social interaction, sleeping well, and seeing your doctor regularly.

Women’s health care is important when it comes to the heart, for one, because women experience a heart attack differently from men. You may have the same symptoms as men, like shortness of breath and pressure on the chest. However, you may also have back pain on the left side, shoulder pain, nausea, and a full feeling in the stomach [9].

10. Take Care of Your Mental Health

Life is full of ups and downs, and most of us experience some amount of stress on a day-to-day basis. It’s very important to have outlets for keeping your stress levels in check so that they don’t lead to more serious mental health problems. You need coping mechanisms such as activities you enjoy, social interaction, exercise, spending time outside, or playing with your pets.

Mental health is a key aspect of women’s health care while also dealing with more serious issues. If you should experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems, go to a medical professional immediately for help. 

11. Take Technology Breaks

Take Technology Breaks
Although there are certainly technology benefits, as a society, we spend a huge amount of time using it, and this can lead to negative effects. An article in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience cited problems sleeping, heightened symptoms of ADHD, addiction, social isolation, impaired brain development, and delayed emotional and social intelligence. 

If you want to make healthy lifestyle choices, avoid spending much of your time using your technology. Look for a good balance that meets all your needs. Take a break and go for a walk or phone a friend. Try to avoid looking at your phone before you go to bed as the blue light can disrupt your sleep.

12. Keep Up Your Social Life

Keeping up with your friends and family and socializing is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Humans are social creatures, and it can affect both our mental and physical health if we spend too much time on our own.

According to an article in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, social relationships have a huge impact on health, and in fact, shape health outcomes throughout a person’s life. 

If the pandemic is making it hard for you to see people, make a special effort every day to get on Zoom, pick up the phone, or go for a walk with a friend. These are healthy lifestyle choices that should make a big difference to your mood and overall feeling of well-being.

The Bottom Line

It’s crucial to discuss women’s health as part of International Women’s Day, but in truth, these are issues that we should talk about and implement daily – and we do. Nonetheless, there still needs to be a greater focus and more research on women’s medical problems.

In terms of how you as a woman can improve your health, we recommend that you try the 12 suggestions we have provided to boost your immunity and elevate your wellness to a higher level. It’s all about making healthy lifestyle choices and sticking to them.

We don’t want you to follow a healthy lifestyle like it’s a to-do list or series of chores. It’s about having an enriching life you love and finding foods and activities that you enjoy. As your health improves, you should feel better overall and hopefully have an enriched sense of well-being.

Happy International Women’s Day!