Good health habits and lifestyle choices should start at a young age but it’s never too late to commit to your health. When you embrace and value the importance of your female health, this will change your focus but I know you will be glad you did! Get educated, know what’s at stake, and take control over your body, your ovaries and your vagina!
Here are my top 6 Female Health Resolutions once your legs go up in stirrups:
1. Plan your future fertility.
The discussion of fertility and family planning should take a front seat in your early 30s. We know that fertility declines significantly in your mid-30’s and declines even more closer to 40. If you are single and you’re not even thinking about future fertility, it may be time to have a conversation about egg freezing. OB/GYN’s are at the forefront when it comes to women and their fertility. We need to be the ones to educate and enlighten our patients with the hard facts are their biologic clock. You may have to be the one to start this conversation with your healthcare provider in order to make plans for a possible future family.
2. Make your vagina a priority.
More than 50% of women never talk about their vaginal health with anyone, not even their healthcare provider. 35% of women said they are uncomfortable saying the word “vagina". 90% of women say they think we need better vaginal health education. 8 out of 10 women say they have experienced vaginal issues in the past year. Ladies, we need to make our vagina a health priority and talk about whatever issues you might be experiencing with you vagina. Vaginal dryness, itching, pain with sex, inability to have an orgasm and persistent vaginal odors and discharge are just some of the everyday complaints women are not talking about. If you are suffering from any of these types of common problems talk to your healthcare provider. It’s time to be shameless about our vaginal health. Let’s change the dialogue on how we take care of our bodies and vaginas. The Vagina Revolution is here!
3. Enforce the “safe sex” rule
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are setting alarming new records. According to the data released in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis in 2016 was the highest number recorded in the country’s public health history with more than 2 million cases. Chlamydia led the charge with approximately 1.6 million diagnoses in 2016. For women, untreated STI’s can have shattering long-term results. It can lead to infertility, stillbirth, and leave women more vulnerable to HIV infection. Other cast of characters includes HPV, Herpes, HIV, Trichomonas’s, Hepatitis and the Zika virus. Prevention is the best defense against STIs. Male and female condoms are the only dual protection methods available to help reduce your risk of these common sexually transmitted infections. Women now have a viable option to the male condom with the new FC2 Female Condom. With STI’s on the rise, the need for prevention and protection is more important than ever. Safe sex includes having a new partner wear a condom until they are 100% sure this is their permit partner. Honestly, I tell my patients, “Your partner should wear a condom until the engagement ring is placed on the 4th finger of your left hand!”
4. Eat a more plant based diet.
Combining a well-balanced plant-based diet, limiting red-meat and high-fat dairy intake and consuming “good” fats- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats promotes healthy aging and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. The focus should be eating plant based foods, nutrient-rich, healthy fats, fresh and unprocessed foods. The Mediterranean diet is a perfect model to follow in avoiding the 2 most common cause of death in women (heart disease and breast cancer) and promote healthy living. By controlling your diet, you will reduce your risk of obesity which affects 27% of people in the US. Being overweight and obese increases your risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Ideally you want to keep your BMI under 25 for optimal health.
5. Limit your alcohol consumption.
We know drinking alcohol increases your risk of heart disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and colorectal cancer. Now we can add breast cancer to the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption. It has been found having two or more drinks a day increases the chance of developing breast cancer as much as 41%. Even moderate alcohol intake which consists of one alcoholic drink a day or more slightly increases your risk of breast cancer. For women, drinking one drink a day is acceptable. This means one serving of a 5 oz glass of wine, one 12 ounce beer or one 1.5 oz of hard liquor. If you drink moderate amounts of alcohol it’s recommended to take 600mcg of folate to counteract the effects moderate alcohol consumption has on breast cancer.
6. Get plenty of sleep
As with eating and drinking, sleeping is a basic necessity in life. Getting a good night sleep is critical to good health, mentally and physically. Sleep deprivation can affect your ability to be efficient at work, school and home. Trouble focusing, thinking clearly and reacting to everyday activities is compromised. Emotionally, you will feel frustrated, moody, irritable and stressed. Car accidents, leading to dangerous injuries and death, are also associated with sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression. The recommended hours an adult should sleep is 7 to 8 per night. If there are several nights where you are losing 1 to 2 hours per night this can cause signs of sleep deprivation. The hour’s loss during each night accumulates and is impossible to get back.
Don’t wait until January 1, 2018 to start living a female healthy lifestyle, the time is now!