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Focus on all aspects of health for women’s health care month

Focus on all aspects of health for women’s health care month

You take on numerous responsibilities every day, including taking care of loved ones. Now it’s time to prioritize yourself with self-care. May is Women's Health Care Month, and at East Jefferson General Hospital, our goal is to empower women to stay well and keep thriving by caring for all aspects of their health.

Self-care starts with screenings

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main risk factor for breast cancer is being an older woman.

To screen for breast cancer, you will have a mammogram. Women aged 40 to 74 at average risk should have a mammogram every two years. For women at an increased risk, you may need to have screening sooner and more often. Your primary care provider or women’s health provider can help you determine how often you need screenings. For women who need biopsies reviewed further or who are diagnosed with breast cancer, East Jefferson General Hospital has a board-certified breast surgeon Nicole Walker, MD.

Any woman can develop cervical cancer, though it is most commonly diagnosed in women over 30. To screen for cervical cancer, your provider will perform a Pap test during a women’s health exam. A women’s health exam can be the same at your OB/GYN as your primary care provider’s office, depending on what services for women your primary care provider offers.

Matters of the heart

Rates of heart disease in women are higher in Louisiana than the national average. To check on your heart health, your primary care provider will most likely need to test for your risk for heart disease. You are more likely to develop heart disease if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of heart disease, a personal history of smoking, low physical activity levels and a poor diet.

To reduce your risk of heart disease, try to live a heart healthy lifestyle, which includes regular physical activity and a diet full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean sources of protein, such as beans, fish or chicken.

Heart disease can lead to heart failure or heart attack. Symptoms of heart attack in women can appear differently than men:

  • Arm and/or back pain
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath

If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away.

Mind your mental health

Women are diagnosed with anxiety and depression more often than men, though researchers aren’t sure why. Women are also more likely to develop eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder.

Some general symptoms of a mental health disorder include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased energy
  • Excessive feelings of sadness
  • Irritability
  • Persistent fear
  • Sleep problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawing from family or friends

If you experience symptoms of mental health disorders, self-care techniques can help, such as eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep. You can also practice self-care by learning coping skills and relaxation techniques, including deep breathing and aromatherapy. However, self-care doesn’t treat mental health disorders. To seek treatment for mental health conditions, speak with your healthcare provider.

If you are feeling suicidal or are dealing with any other mental crisis, call 988—the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in Louisiana—or go to the emergency room right away.

Get your next women’s health checkup on the calendar. Request an appointment with a women’s health provider during Women’s Health Care Month.