Girl Power: Proactive Ways Women Can Look After Their Wellbeing
There’s only one you- and if you want to live a happy and healthy life then you need to take care of your wellbeing. Our needs as women are slightly different to our male counterparts- here are some examples and how you can take care of yourself as a female.
Don’t fear the smear
Cervical cancer is the most preventable form of the disease. Caught in the early stages, it has a 100% recovery rate- however thousands of women each year still die of the disease. No one likes going to the gynecologist, it can be a little awkward and embarrassing but this is a short appointment that can quite literally save your life. By the time you’re having symptoms, chances are the cancer is already quite advanced and will require much more aggressive treatment (including a full hysterectomy- which can be devastating for women who are yet to start a family). If you’re due a smear test, be brave and go and have it done- it only takes a few minutes and you can always request a female nurse or doctor if this makes things easier for you.
Get onto the right contraception
Another area where us women really draw the short straw is with contraception. But it’s something that needs to be right, different medications and hormones will affect people differently so finding something that works for you can be trial and error. The first three months starting any kind of hormonal contraception can be a difficult time while your body settles into things, so don’t give up and give any new medications a chance to work. Things like mood changes, acne and weight gain could all be a possibility which isn’t much fun, but will settle down after a while. If you’re still not happy after a few months then speak to your GP about switching things up.
Consider your eyes and ears
Our sight and hearing is so important, it’s how we stay in touch with and experience the outside world. Sight and vision changes can be natural with age, but that’s not to say younger people can’t have issues too. As a woman, when it comes to hearing problems you’re more likely to lose lower frequency levels first- if you’re noticing changes then find a hearing specialist and find out what can be done. Women are more likely than men to develop glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration so taking care if your eyes is extra important. Eat lots of foods in your diet that are linked with good eye health such as green leafy veg, salmon, eggs, nuts and beans. Protect your eyes from the sun (a glam pair of oversized sunglasses work perfectly!) and go to your doctor if you do notice any changes.
Eat for good health
Each and every one of us needs the right balance of vitamins and minerals to survive and thrive. However, women and men do have slightly different needs and so this is something to be aware of. Many women are lacking in iron and so it’s important to include enough iron rich foods into your diet- green vegetables, lentils, beans, grains and dried fruits are all examples. Women of childbearing age should also be eating enough folate, this ensures that if you do fall pregnant (which can happen even if you’re not planning it) you reduce the chances of birth defects. The neural tubes are created very early on and need folate to develop properly. Often by the time you know you’re pregnant it’s a few weeks into the pregnancy and your baby is at risk if you’re lacking in this vitamin. Take a multivitamin with folate included to supplement your healthy diet, that way you can be absolutely sure that you have enough. Calcium is another important mineral, with osteoporosis being more prevalent in women in later life. Hormone changes can mean bone mass is lost quicker than it’s replaced leading to weak and brittle bones. Very dangerous injuries such as pelvic fractures lead to eventual death in a high proportion of cases. Most elderly people who go into hospital with a broken pelvis never come home. Look after your bones now and build up density to hold brittle bones off for as long as possible later in life.
Consider your mental health
While mental health problems affect both genders, depression and anxiety are more prevalent in women than men. While suicide is lower in women (probably because women are more likely to seek help and open up about their issues) there’s more chance of getting a mental health issue like this when you’re female. Life can be hard for all of us at times, so developing health coping strategies is essential. This could be exercise to boost serotonin, pampering yourself or chatting to a friend to relieve stress. Wellbeing isn’t just about physical health, but mental and emotional health too.