The following is part three of a five-part excerpt of the new book, Women’s Health for Life (DK 2009). Women’s Health for Life is a unique compilation of women’s health information, designed to help women optimize their health, well-being, and quality of life. Edited by women’s health expert and advocate, Dr. Donnica Moore, this book is team written by women physicians for women readers. It discusses topics from contraception to infertility; migraines to menopause; cervical cancer to colon cancer; and heartburn to heart disease. While many readers will want to read this book from start to finish, it provides easy access to specific information when it’s needed. Uniquely, this book provides clear illustrations, graphs, and charts making it as easily understood as a cookbook. While, there is no single “recipe” for good health, the many ingredients are discussed in this book’s 16 chapters. Organized by bodily system, each chapter starts out with an explanation of how that system works and ways to maintain healthy function through diet, exercise, and other self-help measures. This is followed by an explanation of some of the medical conditions affecting that particular system and how they should be treated, focusing specifically on recommendations for women. To order Women’s Health for Life from amazon.com, click here:
The following segment is taken from Chapter 2, “Understanding the Changes” which gives a decade-by-decade overview of the physiologic and psychologic changes women experience as we age. It also serves to remind us of the common sense rules of health that many of us are liable to forget. Much of that information is given in the section focusing on the 20’s, so don’t skip over this, even if you’re older!
Women’s Health Lists for Women in Their 20’s:
Tests recommended in your 20s These are the tests and checkups which it is useful to have during your 20s. Some of the routine checkups, such as the breast self-exam, you can and should do yourself on a regular basis. You can ask your doctor, dentist, and optician for the others as appropriate. While different insurance plans may vary in their coverage, these are the medical recommendations.
✔ Do a monthly breast self-examination
✔ Have a Pap smear according to your doctor’s recommendations: for most women, this will be every year
✔ Have your eyes tested every five years
✔ Go for a twice-yearly dental checkup and cleaning
✔ Check your skin regularly for any changes.
✔ If you are thinking of getting pregnant, see your doctor for preconception advice. You may also need screening tests and a Pap smear before you conceive.
Vitamin and mineral supplements in your 20s The following vitamin and mineral supplements can help you become more healthy.
Multivitamins: Most women who are menstruating benefit from a daily multivitamin with iron.
Folic acid/omega-3 fatty acids: If you are breast-feeding, pregnant, or are thinking of starting a family, take a folic acid supplement (400 micrograms/day) as well as an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (200 mg/day).
Calcium and vitamin D: If your diet isn’t giving you 1,200 mg/dayof calcium, you may need calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Questions to ask your doctor in your 20s
The following are just some of the questions you can ask your doctor about at the start of your 20s:
- Are there any vaccines I need?
- Should I be taking any vitamins or supplements?
- Do I need to think about having any additional screening or diagnostic tests?
- Are there any behavioral or lifestyle changes I should make for optimal health?
Leading causes of death for women in their 20s Statistical research in the US shows that the leading causes of death among women in their 20s are:
- Heart disease
- Pregnancy complications
- Birth defects
Vaccines for your 20s Consider having the following vaccines during your 20s.
HPV Vaccine: This vaccine prevents two of the cancer causing strains of human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the cause of cervical cancer. It is approved for women up to age 26. While it is ideally given before a woman becomes sexually active, ask your doctor if it is right for you.
Flu: Many groups of people are on the list of who “should” receive a flu shot annually. You may think you don’t need one, but if you don’t want to get a bout of flu you should get the flu shot.
Tetanus: You will need a tetanus booster every ten years.
Catch-up vaccines: Ask your doctor if you need any vaccinations that you missed in your childhood. For example, you may have missed your rubella (German measles) vaccine (catching rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause major fetal abnormalities) or your varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.