How familiar are you with your body, health, and family history? Take a minute to think about it. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t know as much as you thought, then you’re in the right place. We’re here to encourage you to be proactive with your health, especially since no one body is the same and symptoms can vary from person to person. While men and women may have similar health conditions, there is a difference when it comes to experiencing symptoms for certain illnesses.
At Finess, we strive to encourage women to be their own definition of BOLD and commit to living the life they want to live. That said, we want to use Women’s Health Week as a time to empower women to take control of their bodies in order to live a confident, happy life. Continue reading to learn more about ways you can take control of your health from here on out.
1. Examine Your Body
When you get out of the shower, spend a few moments looking at yourself in the mirror. Examine every nook and cranny to get familiar with your body. If you notice anything unusual make a note of it so when you go to your doctors you’re able to address any concerns. Below are two self-exams every woman should perform regularly.
Although currently there is no prevention for breast cancer, making a breast exam part of your routine may aid in earlier detection. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 40% of diagnosed breast cancer cases are detected by women who feel a lump while conducting a self-exam.
Steps for examining yourself:
- Use your left hand to touch the right breast, moving the pads of your fingers in small, circular motions. Repeat with the right hand and left breast.
- This exam can be done in the shower or standing in front of your mirror.
- Women should perform this exam at least once a month.
Because our skin is the most important organ in our body, being proactive and taking care of it is crucial. As we get older, our skin will experience a variety of changes that come from being exposed to pollutants, UV rays, and hormone changes. Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean our skin isn’t being exposed to harmful UV rays. UV rays damage the DNA in your skin cells and over time, these cells can grow out of control leading to skin cancer. When examining your body, be cautious of any new dark spots or moles that have changed in color. Dark spots can appear for several reasons, however, it’s most common from sun damage or hormonal changes, especially in women who are pregnant. Melasma, for example, is a skin issue common among pregnant women which causes them to develop brown patches on their face. This condition may be treated with a skin lightening cream or melasma treatment. However, if the dark spots don’t go away and you notice moles getting darker, it’s important that you bring this to your doctor’s attention.
How to examine yourself:
- You will need a bright light, hand mirror, and a pad of paper and pencil to take down notes based on what you see.
- Examine front and back, then left and right sides of your body. Check your feet, hands and arms. Don’t forget your scalp, neck, mouth and ears.
- It’s recommended that you do this at least once a month.
2. Exercise and Fuel Your Body
In this crazy, busy world we live in, we’re constantly on the go and don’t always take the proper amount of time to recharge. Between working, running errands and dealing with home life, we tend to put our health on the back burner. However, most don’t realize that making the slightest change to their daily routine can make all the difference.
Exercise is the single most important thing you can do to take control of your health. While it may help you lose weight and get in shape, a proper fitness routine may also help control your appetite, improve sleep, reduce stress, boost your libido and even put you in a better mood. Beyond that, being active for just 30 to 60 minutes a day will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. If you’re someone finds it hard to stay on track, there are a few things you can do to make your workouts more fun. For example, recruiting a friend or partner to be your workout buddy, creating a lively playlist, or purchasing a fitness tracker are all great ways to keep yourself motivated and accountable.
Once you’ve integrated physical activity into your routine, it’s time to evaluate your eating habits. This doesn’t have to be a drastic change, start by making small changes here and there.
Healthy eating is all about balance, so it’s important to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist if you want personalized advice or an eating plan. Improving your fitness and nutrition will make all the difference in your overall health.
3. Talk to Your Doctor
Are you someone that gets nervous or embarrassed at your doctor’s office? You’re not alone. This happens more than you know and is a leading factor in misdiagnoses for many conditions.
One of the hardest topics for women to open up about is bladder leaks. In fact, per The National Association for Continence, on average, women wait 6.5 years from the first time they experience symptoms until they obtain a diagnosis for their bladder control problem(s).1 During that time, many women stop doing the activities they love and often deal with embarrassment and a lack of confidence. We believe no woman should not have to make lifestyle changes because of bladder leaks and we want to help her find the right solution for her.
The first step to treating bladder leaks is taking the initiative to talk to a medical professional. If you leak when you laugh, cough or sneeze, you may want to contact your OBGYN. These physicians can help suggest options for treatment that range from behavioral modifications to surgical treatment. There are also a number of products, like Finess, that can help you manage leaks and get your life back to the way you want it. Another option is to find a pelvic floor physical therapist who can help you evaluate your current pelvic floor strength, and work with you to create an exercise regime to strengthen your pelvic floor and supporting muscles.2
The Bottom Line
No matter what kind of appointment you have, before you go to your doctor, take a moment to write down any concerns or questions on a notepad or keep a running list in your phone. This way, you won’t forget to mention anything and can leave the doctor’s office feeling like you’ve received all the answers you needed.
When it comes to your health, it’s crucial that you advocate for yourself as your doctor is only there to give you advice and help guide you in the right direction. Below are a few main questions you should be asking your doctor.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
- When should I get a mammogram and colon cancer exam?
- When should I consider changing my birth control?
- How often should I get a pap smear?
- Is it normal to leak a little bit of urine when I laugh, sneeze, or exercise?
- I’ve been feeling less interested in sex lately. Is there anything I can do about it?
- Can you help me better understand my diagnosis and next steps?
- What should I be doing on a daily basis to help prevent certain health issues?
Make a commitment to yourself to be more aware of your body and health from here on out as it may save you from facing issues down the road. Remember, it’s never too early to start being proactive!
1 National Association for Incontinence, Facts and Statistics
2 National Association for Incontinence, Find a Doctor