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.
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….
kimmieCollas women using birthcontrol r “sluts”
Why promote women’s health issues? Because women’s health is about more than breast cancer…
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?
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.
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.