Definition: Defining the Meaning of Female Health
Women's health refers to health issues specific to female anatomy. These often relate to structures such as female genitalia and breasts or to conditions caused by hormones specific to, or most notable in, females. Women's health issues include menstruation, contraception, maternal health, child birth, menopause and breast cancer. They can also include medical situations in which women face problems not directly related to their biology, for example gender-differentiated access to medical treatment.
Female Health Care
Women have specific health care needs during their life cycle. Understanding and education about women's health is an important series of topics that includes a number of subjects such as Female Anatomy, The Female Reproductive System, Hormones, Diseases which are More Common in Women, Cancer, and Cosmetic Concerns. During a woman's life they may also have health care concerns related to Menstruation, Sexuality, Fertility, Birth Control and Infertility, Pregnancy, Motherhood, Menopause, and Post Menopause issues. Education in regards to these health care concerns is important and can help lead to a healthy and happy life.
From a skeletal perspective, women have a wider hip-to-knee ratio than men, as well as hamstrings that are not as strong as those found in males. Women's legs are somewhat longer, while their torsos are shorter than men of similar size. Women have less bone density, a lower center of gravity, and less muscle mass. These differences are important to note because women sustain different sports injuries than men do.
A woman's heart is physically different in ways from that of a man's, in ways that are not clearly understood. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in America; nine million women in the United States have Heart Disease. Of women between the ages of forty-five and sixty-four, one in ten has Heart Disease. Of women over the age of sixty-four; one in three women has Heart Disease. Development of a healthy heart program is something every woman should pursue.
The Female Reproductive System
A woman's ability to reproduce can be an important part of her life. There are a number of health concerns associated with a woman's reproductive system, including yeast infections, fibroids, or cysts. The female reproductive system is complex and includes her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and external genitalia. The most common surgery performed in America on women who are not pregnant is a, 'Hysterectomy,' which is a surgical removal of a woman's uterus. The surgery ends menstruation, as well as a woman's ability to become pregnant. Education about the Female Reproductive System is highly important to ensure that women receive proper health care.
Hormones are chemical substances that are secreted by tissues which travel through body fluids to another tissue in the person's body; both men and women have hormones. In women, the hormones produced by the ovaries are involved not only in the processes of growing, maintaining and repairing reproductive tissues. Hormones also have influence over other tissues in a woman's body, as well as her bone mass. Women with low body fat many times do not produce enough of the hormones from their ovaries, and can experience health issues because of it. These issues can include fractures, Osteoporosis, a cessation of menstruation, and other conditions.
Once a woman has reached menopause, additional hormones called, 'Estrogen,' and, 'Progesterone,' may be decreasingly produced. Many times, a doctor will prescribe hormone therapy to treat the loss of hormones, but only for a short period of time due to an increased risk for heart attack, and a slight increase in the risk for Breast Cancer. Hormonal health issues such as Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid Disease, and Hypothyroidism are much more common in women than in men.
Diseases Occurring More Often In Women
There are a number of diseases that affect both women and men, but occur in women more frequently. Urinary tract infections, bladder infections and kidney infections are examples of diseases that affect women more than men. Others include gallstones, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Osteoporosis. Autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Sjogren's Syndrome affect more women than men.
Women and Cancer
Some forms of Cancer are specifically concerning to women. These forms of cancer include Cervical, Uterine, Breast, Ovarian, Pancreatic, Colorectal and Lung cancers. Breast Cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among women in America. Ovarian Cancer is hard to detect in its early stages, and may occur in women of any age. One in every seventy women in America will develop Ovarian Cancer. Most women who develop Colorectal Cancer are over fifty years of age. Lung Cancer may be prevented by not smoking.
Cosmetic Surgeries and Procedures
One estimate states that more than six-hundred thousand cosmetic surgeries are performed each year on women seeking to improve their appearance, with the number of procedures increasing. These procedures involve the use of things such as Botox and Collagen injections; 'Dermabrasion,' and, 'Chemical Peels.' Liposuction, Lasers that remove unwanted hair, as well as Plastic Surgery techniques are among other procedures which are performed daily in America. Breast reduction, augmentation and reconstruction surgeries have been performed on millions of women. Education about the risks and benefits of these surgeries and procedures is important.
Women menstruate for approximately forty years of their lives, every twenty-six to thirty-five days. They may experience pelvic pain, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and cramps. Symptoms of PMS include nervousness, irritability, cramps, headaches and bloating. There are a number of disorders related to either menstruation periods that are too long, heavy, irregular, or painful. These disorders might include, 'Polycystic Ovary Syndrome,' and, 'Endometriosis.' There is a disease known as, 'Hemochromatosis,' where too much iron is found in the woman's blood, requiring her to receive treatment to remove the excess iron.
Hormones such as Progesterone and Estrogen have a great influence on a woman's sexual life, as well as Testosterone. Fifty million women in the United States experience difficulty with sexual arousal, as well as pain during intercourse, referred to as, 'Dyspareunia.' Physical exercise can help to increase sexual arousal in women. There is also a great deal of research being done to produce a medication similar to Viagra, designed for women.
Fertility, Birth Control and Infertility
Ninety-four percent of the women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four in America use some form of birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The forms of birth control being used include Oral Contraceptives, Diaphragms, Spermicides, Contraceptive Implants, Cervical Caps, Rhythm Methods, and Intrauterine Devices (IUD's). Women need to pursue education about which method of birth control is best for them, as well as education regarding sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
Infertility affects approximately one out of five couples in America, and becomes more of an issue in women who are over the age of thirty-five. Infertility programs, Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), or donor eggs or sperm are options that couples may pursue if they experience infertility. Adoption is another solution that may be considered.
Approximately forty-percent of the pregnancies in America are unplanned. Information and education concerning pregnancy and conception can help women to prepare for a pregnancy, as well as a future as a mother. Learning about diseases that can complicate pregnancy such as Epilepsy, Depression, Asthma, Thyroid Disease, Diabetes, or Lupus, is important. Other factors can affect a pregnancy, and learning about them can help a woman and her baby to stay healthy. The period of time during which a woman is pregnant is a time when a woman's health is critical to both the baby and herself.
Women who have children devote very large portions of their lives to being a mother, with responsibilities that may last up to sixty years or longer. As a mother, a woman is not only responsible for her own health; she is also concerned for the health of her family. Approximately one-third of the children in America live separate from their fathers; mothers are being relied upon to both nurture and protect their children.
In a strict sense, menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstruation ceases, and she no longer ovulates. However, it is also a time in a woman's life, usually when she is in her forties or fifties that has often been referred to as, 'the change in life.' Menopause can be measured through diminishing hormone levels as well. Symptoms of menopause can include forgetfulness, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, fluctuating sexual desires, urinary incontinence and difficulty sleeping. There are health care options for working with symptoms of menopause.
Increasing life spans among women find them living decades beyond menopause. Half of all the women in America over the age of seventy-five live alone, facing health issues including Heart Disease, Cancer, Osteoporosis, and additional health problems. Exercise, proper diet, avoidance of alcohol and smoking, as well as social involvement can help women to live better lives past menopause.