By Pharm. Joseph Ogadinma Ebirim
Health is a wonderful gift of God and can be described at the platform upon which all of us can do whatever we can imagine or desire in order to be prosperous and happy. Health is the basis for life and the opposite of disease. The health of a woman is unique and requires steady and adequate attention, care and maintenance to keep it glowing and properly serving its unique functions from birth, through teenage age, child bearing age, menopause till death. These stages of a woman’s life cycle with the changes that occur warrant the special care women need for their health.
Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. So, you may not be feeling ill with pains and fever, or a runny stomach yet you are not healthy. Lack of finances, a broken relationship or a sad news can deprive us of health. We can agree that events in life do not define us but our reactions or attitude towards these events truly determines the impact of these events in our lives. Since it has been said that our attitude determines our altitude (how far we can go), it becomes clear that our healtitude (attitude to our health) will determine how long we shall live. This means that for a woman to be healthy and enjoy her life, she must ensure that anything pertaining to her physical, mental and social wellbeing are properly approached and taken care of her so that she can stay happy and enjoy the life God has freely given her.
There are some common areas of challenge to a woman’s health worth taking a look at. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Understanding the changes in her body – A woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes from birth till death which she must understand and adequately care for in order to stay healthy. Mothers must understand that it is important to communicate these to their girl children early. Puberty/teenage age comes with commencement of ovulation and emergence of menstrual periods, development of pubic hairs, breasts, hips, butts and interestingly acne, which occurs among many teenagers. These changes are normal and largely due to the actions of hormones. They prepare the woman for the child bearing era. Teenage girls must welcome these changes with a sense of responsibility. When ovulation and menstrual periods begin, the girl child must be taught to avoid sexual activities as these can lead to unplanned pregnancy which may lure her to abortion and consequently suffer the physical and psychological damages that often results. It is important to let her know that managing acne (pimples) requires patience and proper skill and not desperation which may cause her to use all sorts of skin-damaging creams and soaps whose damaging effects may be difficult to correct. It is also important for her to learn to understand and keep records of her menstrual cycle so that she can predict her period and use sanitary wares so as to avoid embarrassment from menstrual flows.
- Personal hygiene and self-care: Personal hygiene and self-care for a woman is very important to keep her from developing unpleasant body odours, infections of the reproductive organs and infertility. A woman must endeavour to bath at least twice a day and even more during menstrual flow, avoid douching and limit use of scented chemical washes for the vagina so as to reduce risk of having bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis, avoid smoking and use of substances which can hamper fertility. Lack of proper rest and very frequent sexual intercourse (as seen among sex workers) can also lead to vaginal infections.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: A woman must be physically active as a healthy requirement in order to maintain a healthy weight. It is not unusual for a woman to put up weight especially when she is married or when she is happy and eats good food while privileged to have her needs met. Some others will put up weight since this can be inherited. However, It is a fact that lack of exercise will lead a woman to many avoidable disease conditions such as obesity, accumulation of body fats (dyslipidaemia), arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and its complications, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and infertility, Cancers, etc.
- Staying clear of Drug Abuse: The abuse of alcohol and taking drugs which are used to induce sleep or deny sleep, euphoria (to get high), to enhance physical performance during sex or sports, etc have been shown to have damaging effects in women and make child bearing difficult. Women who also stay around people who smoke and inhale the smoke but do not engage in the act of smoking are also at risk of the effects of smoking. There are hard drugs that have been shown to exert more effects in women than in men. Many women while under the influence of hard drugs suffer sexual violence and abuses from their partners or friends, depression and undertake suicide, avoidable road traffic accidents, miscarriages and birth defects due to use of hard drugs during pregnancy (due to addiction).
- The Responsibility of Child bearing: During the period a woman is raising children, a lot of changes happen. These can be caused by hormones or other factors. Some of the changes include increased body fats and weight, changes in complexion and even development of depression after delivery. Mothers who have children with some physical challenges often feel discouraged and deny these children the love of a mother. All these events are normal and should not be a reason to be desperately applying creams and taking all forms of pills. It is best to talk to your doctor if there is something you do not like about your body after birth.
SOME LINE OF THOUGHTS WOMEN MUST ENDEAVOUR TO FIX:
- My friend told me… Don’t just go to that friend who will tell you to take a medication or undergo some other procedure because it solves your immediate problem, keep friends who tell you the truth no matter how bitter and also tell you the consequences of your action. At best, stay away from risky behavior and avoid taking directions from people who have insufficient knowledge about your health and medicines use, the consequences are often disastrous.
- They said nothing is wrong with me… Does that really sound true? It is not always that there is nothing wrong with you but many times, it is true that the person diagnosing you either has not enough knowledge, skill or diagnostic tool to unravel your problem. When it comes to your health and medicines, always make the sacrifice to go for the best. You deserve the best for yourself.
- I am naturally big… I have tried my best… Of course you have tried your best but you need to try the best that is required and proven best in order to achieve the target that helps you stay away from the diseases and the complications of overweight such as diabetes, hypertension, infertility, arthritis, etc. These conditions will make old age unbearable and difficult for you.
- The drug is too big for me to swallow… Hmmm! I can relate to just how difficult swallowing pills can be but then, you are prescribed medicines because you need them not for recreation. Therefore, try a bit more to take it and as soon as you are done as prescribed, you will not be under compulsion to take it again.
These are very few of the day-to-day observations of health attitudes of women in the community. This is certainly not all, but the counsel I have recommended will go a long way to correct the mind of the woman and help her develop the right attitudes towards her health and medicines use so that she can enjoy a much healthier and happier life through her years on earth.