When was the last time you checked in on yourself? The fact is many women just don’t know the true state of their health. Even a pressing pain or niggle is easy to ignore and it can be tempting to put off more serious issues to deal with them another day.
Clinical specialist and lead physiotherapist for women’s heath, Rachel Bromley, says spending time and getting to know your body can help you get the most out of life. Here, Rachel outlines the issues she sees many women living with, and gives advice on reducing risk to your health.
Everyone experiences and deals with stress in different ways. It can affect our physical health and sleep patterns, leaving us potentially more vulnerable to developing illness. Make sure you make time for relaxation and spend time away from the things that stress you out. If you feel you’re not coping, see your GP.
Over half a million people in the UK have diabetes without knowing it. With a simple blood test and urine analysis, you can diagnose diabetes. This will help you manage your glucose levels through exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes.
Knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol can establish any heart disease risk you may have. Make sure you know your numbers and have these tests annually.
Anaemia occurs when a person has a decrease in amount of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood. This lowers the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. The main symptom is tiredness which can be a problem for all of us who lead busy lives. A simple blood test will check for anaemia and the ability to fight infection, so you know you have the energy to live life to the full.
There is growing scientific evidence supporting screening for breast cancer, the most common non-skin cancer and second deadliest cancer in women. Screening on the NHS starts at 50. We believe certain women would benefit from a start at 40. Women should self-check regularly and know how to look for the signs.
Risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, so be aware of any changes in bowel motions, any blood in the stool, weight loss and abdominal pains.
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in the world. It causes your bones to gradually lose density and the risk increases with age. You can help reduce risk by keeping active, having a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D, not smoking and reducing alcohol and caffeine intake.
Leaking urine is a very common condition affecting women of all ages. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 women experience urinary incontinence during their lives, causing leaking of urine when coughing, laughing or running, or when rushing to the toilet. Although it is a common problem it should never be classed as being ‘normal’ and there are many treatments, including physiotherapy, that can improve or cure urinary incontinence and other intimate problems such as vaginal prolapse or painful sex.
These account for 7% and 5% respectively of cancers affecting women aged 50-74. Uterine cancer usually presents with postmenopausal bleeding. You should report any bleeding, however small, or any unusual discharge or pelvic pain to your GP. Ovarian cancer has many symptoms but they are often dismissed as not significant – if you are suffering from constant bloating, abdominal pain, eating less or feeling full, or are feeling unusually tired don’t keep these symptoms to yourself.
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It can help improve both physical and mental health. Ideally, aim for 30 minutes a day. Regular exercise substantially helps to reduce cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and breast cancer risk. It is effective in lifting mood and helping us deal with stress.