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Women, put your health on top!

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It’s high time that all parties – from government, to civil society groups, and the private sector – give number one priority to the health and well-being of girls and women. Photo: Xinhua

Women of the world, rejoice. It is that time of the year again where the world celebrates International Women’s Day. Being the primary focus of the day, it is only apt to start a discourse on empowering women through the knowledge of good health.

While there is a lot of literature on the topics of overall well-being, there are certain health conditions that only affect women such as gynecological and pregnancy issues. Apart from that, some medical conditions that affect males and females also affect females differently. Therefore, there is a dire need to discuss women’s health further.

As the famous saying goes ‘knowledge is power’ and to equip oneself with adequate information is the best protection against unwarranted health concerns.

Women-specific health issues

1. Gynecological and reproductive health

Such disorders typically affect the internal and external organs in the female pelvic and abdominal areas. Depending on the severity, they could also affect the functions of the female reproductive system and could affect a woman’s fertility. Some of the most common issues are polycystic ovary syndrome (growth of small cysts in ovaries), endometriosis (abnormal growth of uterus lining), dysmenorrhea (pain associated with menstruation) and vulvodynia (chronic discomfort involving the vulva).

What you can do: Never skip your annual gynecological visit, practice safe sex and maintain a good gynecological health.

2. Cervical cancer

In 2017, the WHO said over 5 million Cambodian women over the age of 15 are at risk of cervical cancer. Often caused by HPV (human papilloma virus), the cancer is typically found in sexually active women between the ages of 20 to 30. Symptoms include abnormal bleeding (between menstrual periods, after sex, after a pelvic exam, or after menopause), abnormal discharge and painful urination.

What you can do: Girls aged 9 to 12 should receive HPV vaccines. If you are over the age of 21, opt for a pap smear to rule out any cause for concerns.

3. Breast cancer

Let’s clear the air once and for all. Men, too, are at risks of developing breast cancer. However, women carry higher risks because their breast cells are likely to be influenced by the growth-promoting effects of estrogen and progesterone. Last year, Khmer Times reported that breast cancer is the second most common type after cervical cancer affecting women in Cambodia, with an average of 1,255 new cases reported annually.

What you can do: Perform the monthly breast self-examination to spot any irregularities in the shape, size or appearance and go for annual mammogram, especially if you are over the age of 40. Read more about it in our previous article: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50541971/hello-regular-check-ups-bye-bye-breast-cancer/

4. Pregnancy issues

Pregnancy in itself could be a stressful journey but there are also some health complications that could further add to the concerns. They include pregnancy loss, postpartum depression, premature birth, breastfeeding-related issues and birth defects. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly 300,000 women died from complications in pregnancy and childbirth in 2013.

What you can do: Ensure you have access to family planning before embarking on the pregnancy journey. Full awareness of pre- and post-natal care too is very important to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.

5. Mental health issues

Some experts believed that due to the natural hormonal fluctuations, women are more prone to depression and anxiety in comparison to men. This is evident in a woman during changes such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, among others. The spectrum of mental health problems, however, varies from a short-lived emotional response to challenges that literally disrupt one’s daily life. At its very worst, depression can lead to suicide.

What you can do: Keep an open mind and don’t shy away from professional help, if necessary. Remember, it is not a weakness. You can also embrace better stress-management tactics which can minimise the negative impacts in your day-to-day life.

Secrets to be happy (and healthy)

Eat healthy and exercise regularly

Apart from keeping health concerns at bay, you can also maintain a healthy figure which will do wonders for your own self confidence. Take your pick from yoga, cycling, swimming or even a simple 30-minute brisk walking. On top of that, eating well will boost your mood, lower your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system.

Get that beauty sleep

Beauty sleep is mainly a ‘thing’ because it is true. Various studies have shown that quality sleep is extremely important. Firstly, your body repairs itself and recovers while you sleep. If you get between seven to nine hours night a day, WebMD said you are likely to wake up with a radiating complexion, fewer wrinkles and a healthier appearance.

Say no to risky habits

These include cigarette-smoking, use of drug, excessive consumption of alcohol and even excessive caffeine intake. Not only these unhealthy substances will take a toll on your health in the long run, they also make you feel sluggish in you day-to-day life. In fact, a research by ScienceDaily showed that the usage of unhealthy substances are linked to visible signs of physical aging.

Get yourself protected

It should be noted that diseases like breast or cervical cancer can still inflict on healthy-looking individuals. We can decrease the risks for such diseases through healthy living, but there is no 100 per cent proven way to prevent them. Therefore, give yourself a peace of mind by opting for a protection plan which can cushion any possible blows involving critical illnesses. For more information on how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, please contact an AIA Life Planner.

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