Attention ladies! We know this doesn’t come naturally for many of you, but for the next few minutes, we are focusing solely on YOU!
Men, you had your turn in this blog. This time it’s all about women’s health and the things that the gals need to be aware of in the quest for longevity. Just like men, women are more susceptible to getting certain health conditions. Knowledge is power, so being aware of what they are and what we can do to prevent (or manage) them provides a leg up in maintaining good health.
In both Australia and New Zealand, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women; in Australia, affecting 1 in 7 women. Other cancers that are high on the list for women include cervical and ovarian cancer – both of which have a much lower incidence than breast cancer, but also a lower (5 year) survival rate (78% and 48% respectively).
The good news is that screening processes and treatments for all of these cancers are improving rapidly. This means that many women are being diagnosed sooner and the outcomes for those who are diagnosed, are notably improving – breast cancer outcomes in NZ improved by 10% in the past year alone!
You would be crazy not to take up the opportunity to stay one step ahead of the beast that is cancer with regular testing (if you require some convincing, there’s nothing wrong with some self-bribery in the form of a post check-up coffee and cake!).
Amazing Anatomy… But Complex Too!
Let’s just pause for a moment here to appreciate and admire that the female body can grow and give birth to a human being… It’s amazing! Alongside amazing, the system responsible is also widely complex, which means that issues can arise from time to time.
We see this in the form of chronic health conditions such as Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Endometriosis is caused by abnormal cell growth outside of the uterus and PCOS by severe hormone imbalances. Although very different, both conditions result in an array of unpleasant symptoms and can wreak havoc on the women who suffer with them.
Where they do have similarities is when it comes to a major clue that helps with diagnosis (and management!). That clue being the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is an unsung hero – it’s patterns and characteristics provide valuable information about the function of the female reproductive system. Tracking the menstrual cycle and the symptoms that accompany it can provide fascinating insight when things aren’t flowing as expected (pun intended). There are many great apps for this, such as ‘Clue’, ‘Flo’ and ‘Eve’.
Strong Bones For Life
In Australia, 66% of people will have either osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density) within their lifespan, and sorry ladies, but women are three times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. This due to a number of reasons, including that women naturally have smaller bones than men and more notably, that women go through hormonal changes during menopause that cause a sharp decline in bone density. Low bone density significantly increases the risk of bone fractures – bad news as you move through the golden years!
We know, this is all sounding a bit unfair… But we have some good news! When it comes to bone health, there are a number of things women can do throughout their lifespan that will prevent osteoporosis. Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D is key, alongside partaking in a regular load bearing exercise (walking, running, dancing) and strength training to keep the bones strong! Healthy bones Australia has set up a great tool to help people assess and take control of their bone health.
Because You’re Worth It
We know it can be hard to take time out for yourself as a modern-day woman, but when it comes to your health, the time you give now will be time that you (and your family) get back later. Get tested, don’t be afraid to tune in to your body and keep those day-to-day healthy habits near the top of the to-do list. Trust us – you really are worth it!
1. Cancer Australia. (2022). Cancer Australia – Ovarian Cancer Statistics. https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/cancer-types/ovarian-cancer/statistics#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20there%20were%201%2C075,by%20the%20age%20of%2085.
2. Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation – Prevention, Treatment, Support. (2022, June 28). ACCF. https://accf.org.au/
3. Osteoporosis, What is osteoporosis? (2020, August 25). Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis/contents/what-is-osteoporosis
4. Bone Health – Healthy Bones Australia Website. (2021). Healthy Bones Australia. https://healthybonesaustralia.org.au/
Author: Tesssa Nielsen Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Content Creator at Specialised
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