Beyond Our Breasts: 5 Other Health Issues More Common Among WomenBy: Rebecca Roedersheimer
The best gift we can give is good health, so isn’t it befitting that National Women’s Health Week launched on Mother’s Day, when we celebrate the women who gave us life?
Women’s bodies are amazingly created for birth, but that benefit comes with some health costs. I’m speaking beyond breast cancer and heart disease. Our anatomies, due to design and the potential effects of childbirth, are more susceptible than men’s bodies to urinary health conditions ranging from overactive bladder to infections.
All are highly treatable, fortunately, especially when diagnosed early. So let’s talk about it. If you or the moms in your life haven’t had a conversation about urinary health, this National Women’s Health Week, May 12 to 18, is an easy time to start – even if you’re a son!
Here are five women’s health facts that are unique to our anatomy.
UTIs are more common, especially in the summer. While E. coli is a leading culprit, chances of getting an infection rise with temperatures because bacteria love heat and humidity. Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections because our urethras are shorter, enabling bacteria to more easily reach the bladder. Avoid hanging out in damp swimsuits for long periods and stay hydrated – water helps clear out bacteria.
Women can benefit from Botox, on the inside. Mom’s face is perfect, but her bladder may need a boost. Women are more likely to experience overactive bladder – the sudden and sometimes urgent need to pee – due to weakened pelvic muscles, menopause and UTIs. Botox can help by partially paralyzing the bladder, relaxing it so that it can store more urine.
Redheads are more likely to inflame. Painful bladder syndrome, or interstitial cystitis, is a chronic inflammation that causes bladder pressure and pain. While more common among women than men, it is of even higher risk for those with fair skin and red hair, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition may inhibit the bladder’s ability to hold urine, meaning frequent bathroom trips. Treatments may include medication and nerve stimulation therapy.
You don’t have to be a mom to prolapse. If the pelvic muscles weaken, the bladder and uterus may shift out of their correct positions, resulting in pelvic organ prolapse. While childbirth is a leading contributor to this condition, it also occurs in women who have never had children, or who delivered by cesarean section. The loss of estrogen, during menopause, can also raise the risk. Surgery is among the treatments, along with a change in diet or Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic support muscles.
She can be “active” as long as she wants. After menopause it is common for women to experience a sudden dryness, making intimacy uncomfortable and even painful. This is caused by a decline in estrogen, which lubricates the lining of the vagina. There are new innovations and treatments, including laser therapies like MonaLisa, estrogen creams and lubricants. In fact, continued sexual activity could help prevent the condition.
Women’s bodies can do amazing things. And while many women will soldier through discomfort and pain in the name of love, we can ensure they don’t need to. Here’s to good health for all.