A-to-Z Guide to Women’s Health

A-to-Z Guide to Women’s Health

Ladies, follow these 26 tips to increase energy and live longer

Courtesy Baylor Scott & White Medical Center

Incorporate a few of these Women’s Health recommendations from Chris Birkholz, MD, an OB-GYN on the medical staff at a Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, and you’ll be on your way to better health.

Annual checkups. Schedule yours today. Yearly visits are a good time to screen for conditions that can directly affect your health, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and breast and cervical cancers, as well as to review your health history and vaccinations.

Birth control. Not happy with the pill? There are many alternatives, including some that are long-acting yet reversible. And most are available at no cost to you.

Check your cycle. See your doctor anytime if menstrual cycles are irregular, prolonged or abnormal. For post-menopausal women, any uterine bleeding should be evaluated.

Don’t forget vitamin D (and calcium). These are two of the most important supplements you can take. Women younger than 50 should get 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Postmenopausal women and adolescents need a slightly higher dose.

Exercise. For substantial health benefits, each week adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.

Family history. Tell your health care provider about any health conditions that run in your family. This information may change the screening frequency for heart disease, breast and colon cancers, and more.

Gastrointestinal attention. Colon cancer is a largely preventable disease. Most adults should have a screening colonoscopy by age 50.

Hormones. Menopausal symptoms can improve with hormone therapy. Discuss the benefits with your gynecologist.

Impact exercise. Low-impact exercises (walking, swimming, cycling) are key to better health. Up your aerobic activity for a healthier heart and add resistance training for stronger muscles and bones.

Join a gym or health club. Most offer classes to fit your schedule and level of experience. Use a personal trainer or a mentor at first to get you on the right track.

Keep records. Providing your doctor with blood pressure readings or a menstrual calendar, rather than relying on memory, can help you both see the bigger picture.

Lipids. These are fats in your blood (like cholesterol and triglycerides). A simple blood test can be used to evaluate your heart health.

Menopause. You may not be a candidate for hormone therapy, but alternative therapies are also effective in treating menopausal symptoms.

Nutrition. Poor diet is related to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Can’t find time to make healthy meals? A dietitian can give you simple ideas for eating well on the go.

Osteoporosis. Weak bones are a major cause of death as we age. Take care of your bones by exercising and taking calcium and vitamin D. And stop smoking.

Pap tests. Cervical cancer can be prevented with regular Pap tests. Get screened every three to five years or as recommended by your provider.

Quit smoking. Pick a stop date and commit. Ask your doctor about resources and treatment options.

Risk calculators. Knowing your risk of osteoporosis and breast cancer can help determine your screening needs. Search online for the FRAX tool and the Gail model to assess your risk.

Sunscreen. Use SPF 30 or greater. Apply 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every two hours.

Take your vitamins. Women in childbearing years—regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant— should take a prenatal vitamin daily.

Unplug at night. Turn off your computer, smartphone, tablet, and TV before entering the bedroom for a better night’s sleep.

Vaccines. They are effective and safe. Ask your provider if you are on schedule. The HPV vaccine is indicated for boys and girls younger than 26 to help prevent cervical cancer.

Weight. Ask your doctor to calculate your body mass index. If your BMI is high, talk to your provider about weight management.

X-ray. A DEXA scan (X-ray) is usually recommended for women at age 65 to check bone health. You may need a scan earlier if you meet certain criteria.

Yearly mammograms. In general, mammograms are recommended every year beginning at age 40. Some women with risk factors may need to begin screening earlier.

ZZZs. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep. If you or your partner snores loudly, it could be a sign of sleep apnea and may be indicative of other health problems.

At Baylor Scott & White Health, you’ve got a women’s health partner for life. Learn about our full range of women’s health services. Visit BSWHealth.com/Women today.