When it comes to women’s health, discerning questions and comparative information are key
Health, wealth and happiness may be the key to life but all three generally take great amounts of effort and tenacity.
Around the world, women’s health is a key issue. Additionally, the quality of medical advice and awareness of options are a critical factor in the wellbeing of women.
Women should feel confident and respected as patients Every woman wants to feel her best. But for many, from adolescents to post-menopausal women, gynecological problems get in the way.
As women climb the corporate ladder or manage their busy family schedules, often there are even more barriers than most realize.
Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), for example, impacts more than 100 million women worldwide, who cope with heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding, extreme cramping, and intense fatigue. 1 Up to one-third of women struggle with pelvic pain, and countless others deal with infertility. 2,3 Still others are worried about symptoms they’re experiencing or have questions about their health, but are hesitant to get help.
Even though the lives of women are incredibly busy, it all underscores the importance of seeing a physician, finding effective ways to address concerns, and advocating for what may be best. But that’s not always easy.
Seeing a physician regularly can be important
“Today, women are multitasking more than ever,” says Aarathi Cholkeri-Singh, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., a specialist in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery at The Advanced Gynecologic Surgery Institute in Chicago. “Many work part-time or full time and/or are the primary caretakers for their families. Some even delay having children to focus on their careers. But regardless of the rigorous daily demands, women need to take care of themselves.”
Dr. Cholkeri-Singh urges all women to see a primary care physician and/or a gynecologist at least once a year. And she cautions against confusing changing care guidelines with the need for annual exams.
“Even if you don’t need a Pap smear or a mammogram in any given year, you still need to see your physician to ensure that you are up to date with your healthcare needs.”
Seeking the best information, choices and support
A firm believer in women empowering themselves through education, Cholkeri-Singh has no problem with patients doing research online with a reputable resource. What she does find dangerous is when patients believe everything they read. “You have to be open to hearing your doctor’s point of view,” she says.
She’s equally adamant about being honest with your physician about what’s going on with your health, including discussing concerns, medications, and family history. “Often I have to pull information out of patients,” notes Cholkeri-Singh. “Perhaps they’re unsure of how to communicate something, or afraid of being seen as crazy, or anxious about what the answer might be. But if patients don’t talk, it’s difficult for a physician to ask the right questions to identify and treat what’s going on.”
Similarly, if you want a second opinion, Cholkeri-Singh says to speak up. “Some patients are concerned about being disrespectful or hurting their doctor’s feelings. But a second opinion is a way to gain knowledge and make a more informed decision.”
Two-way clear communication is key
Dr. Cholkeri-Singh also sees honest communication as a two-way street and says physicians need to inform patients of all their options, including those that fall outside of the doctor’s area of expertise. For example, there are less invasive options for treating AUB. In the past, serious cases often resulted in a hysterectomy, which typically requires a hospital stay and months of recovery. Compared to hysterectomy, hysteroscopy can be done in an outpatient setting, keeps the uterus intact, offers little discomfort during and after the procedure, and offers less time away from family, work, and normal activities.
“Your primary physician should direct you to the right specialists,” says Cholkeri-Singh. “It all goes back to having a good relationship with your doctor, being informed, and advocating for yourself.”
Happy with health
With many women looking after everyone else before themselves, attention needs to be placed on revisiting their own state of health – and the first step is finding and establishing a sound relationship with their medical practitioner.
A confident and truly mutual relationship is the goal – and growing such a relationship over time matters greatly.
And with an International Women’s Day campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter, what better time than to review one’s own health and make a pact to seek out some assurance.
After all, health as we sometimes need to be reminded, is absolutely everything!
1. Based on Medtronic analysis of 2017 market model data, April 2018.
2. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health. How many women have pelvic pain? National Institutes of Health Web site: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicpain/conditioninfo/howmany. Updated Jan. 21, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2019.
3. World Health Organization. Infertility is a global public health issue. World Health Organization Website. https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/infertility/perspective/en/ Accessed Feb. 26, 2019.
This article was co-developed by Medtronic, a proud Supporter of International Women’s Day as a reminder for women everywhere to maintain regular contact with their health professionals and to develop confidence in expecting clear information and options. Medtronic is a global leader in medical technology, services, and solutions. They collaborate with others to take on healthcare's greatest challenges.