Archive for May 17th, 2012

May 17th, 2012

#HAchat Recap: Health Activists Speak Out About Women’s Health Week

by Caitlin

The national health observances continue! May 13-19 is National Women’s Health Week, and WEGO Health brought Health Activists together to discuss what women’s health means to them and, of course, which myths and misconceptions exist around women’s health.  Here’s what Health Activists had to say:

 

It’s Your Time

This year’s theme for National Women’s Health Week is “It’s Your Time.”  Here at WEGO Health, we truly believe that it is your time, and even more that it’s your health. When we think about women’s health, there is no end to the ways we can define it.  Women’s health conjures images of pregnancy, breast health, and reproductive health.  National Women’s Health Week promotes messages calling for preventative screenings and healthier lifestyles. But what about the other ways that women’s health is unique?  What about the ways in which our physiology causes us to be predisposed to certain chronic conditions, have different reactions to medications, and differing social, psychological and spiritual needs? How do we mitigate the increased risks that women are exposed to for physical and sexual abuse, as well as the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases?  What impact does the ability to bear children (or not) have on our physical and mental health?  These are the types of questions that we should be asking ourselves during this awareness week.

 

Don’t hide under the umbrella of women’s health

There are many diseases that get lumped under women’s health because certain aspects of women’s physiology put women at greater risk.

TiffanyAndLupus : Diseases like Breast cancer, autoimmune illness, lupus, fibromyalgia often fall under the umbrella of “Women’ Health.” #HaChat

nursesantos Reproduction.. Many roles changing, like child-rearing. Many diagnoses go to both genders… #HAchat

CIRants I would argue that anything that can affect a woman’s health fits here: breast cancer, heart disease, depression, drug use, etc #HAchat

MakeThisLookAwe Taking care of the female reproductive organs is a big part of women’s health. Also medication reactions (i.e., depakote=bad) #HAchat

sharemayflowers @wegohealth pregnancy/childbirth is the single greatest risk factor for #pelvicfloordysfunction #hachat

ShyDi47 Weight and appearance seems to be an ongoing issue w/women’s health. #Hachat

nursesantos T2: Menopause & related weight gain & osteoporosis are talked about at the . #HAchat

 

The problem with assuming that all of these things are women’s health issues is that – by limiting women to diseases that fall into the women’s health bucket disease labeled as typically “men’s health”  - issues  (like heart health) are over looked, leaving women at risk.  For this reason (and a few more that we’re about to list), we implore you this week and this year to broaden the definition of women’s health and open up a bigger discussion. To become an advocate for not only your condition, but for how your condition impacts your health as a woman, and what you are doing about it.

 

Why promote awareness of women’s health issues?

 

I’m not even sure we need to answer this question, but in case you have some backward family member who only things of women’s health as relating to menopause, here are some reasons Health Activists noted that we should all be talking about women’s health.

 

Why promote women’s health issues? Because these myths and misconceptions exist….


nursesantos : Myth that hormone replacement therapy in menopause will kill you. #HAchat

Dyverse_Steele that women’s issues are just as varied as men and one treatment will not work for all – all women are not the same #hachat

apdolan: All women want to be mothers. #myth Pregnancy is no big deal. #myth #HAchat

kimmieCollas women using birthcontrol r “sluts”

CIRants All women need to know that health ins can treat them differently; premiums can be > for women; gyn may not be covered #HAchat

Dyverse_Steele it has been said that women can take pain more then men because of child birth etc and that it has affected their treatment #hachat

 

Why promote women’s health issues? Because women’s health is about more than breast cancer…


CIRants : Media seems to focus on breast cancer as THE big women’s issue, more than others #HAchat

MakeThisLookAwe : Can I rant for a moment and say I’m sick of the #pinkribbon taking over absolutely everything? We have more issues than #tatas#HAchat

 

Are you still looking for reasons to promote women’s health issues?

How about that women present symptoms differently and have different reactions to medications?  How about that women’s medical complaints are often perceived as exaggerated? How about that it is assumed by some that women can take more pain than men and that this can affect the treatment they receive?

kimmieCollas: heart attacks cn present differently in women. We all know the common symptoms, but how many of us know the f/male specific 1s #HAchat

pamressler Women can have different responses to treatment and meds than men — most clinical trials were on men #hachat

CIRants Unique is doctor’s response; with some issues women are not taken seriously as much as men, like with pain#HAchat

pamressler I think chronic pain and the disparities between treatment of men & women w pain conditions is an area that needs more attention #hachat

 

How about the fact that, most importantly - too many women’s health issues are still taboo or controversial.

 

It’s important to talk about women’s health because: nursesantos astounded at how issues brought up today are same as 30 years ago. #HAchat. That’s right, while there have been amazing technological and medical advances in the past 30 years, the attitude towards women’s health is largely the same.  We are still having the same debates, still embarrassed about the same things, still having others tell us what we can and can’t do with our own bodies.  Without delving into the whole political debate, it is worth noting that the progress we have made isn’t spectacular.

 

So what has changed? One of the biggest examples out there is breast cancer.  The reason that breast health is so big is because of some key Health Activists that made it ok to talk about “boobies” and “tatas”.  While we understand that women’s health does not equal breast health, it is worth considering the work that Komen and Avon did to make breast cancer an acceptable topic of conversation.  Embarrassment and stigma around women’s health issues still exist, particularly with reference to things that affect women “below the belt,” and this embarrassment can have real health effects resulting from women taking too long to get the help that they need. CIRants: Need to talk more about recognizing symptoms that many hide, talk about when to seek help #HAchat.  But the level of awareness around breast cancer and the amount of pink we see (I mean the NFL wore pink shoelaces for the whole month of October) during Breast Cancer Awareness Month is evidence of the power of Health Activists to enact positive change.

 

Final Thoughts:

FabulousandSick: We as women tend to take on so much…It needs to be reinforced that we must put taking care of ourselves high on the list. #Hachat

 

Raising awareness of women’s health issues, promoting conversation and getting rid of stigma are yet more tasks left to Health Activists.  It is only by promoting open dialogues, by saying things that others won’t, by showing people that what they are feeling and experiencing is real and worthy of attention that change will happen.  Fortunately, since the majority of Health Activists are women, there are plenty of people out there that can become agents of change.

 

TiffanyAndLupus Final thoughts: Your health is YOUR responsibility. Speak up & out honestly. Raise awareness, get informed & educate others! #HaChat