The most important thing to realize about women’s health, is that each woman is unique, and certainly different from men. Optimizing women’s health involves a broader and more holistic view of healthcare as women are much more complex beings. The following 5 aspects of women’s health are crucial for both physicians and women to focus on when looking to improve their overall health and wellness.
Fatigue is one of the primary concerns we hear as medical practitioners. This symptom could be due to a wide variety of possible causes: sleep, nutrition, hormones, underlying infections, and/or stress. The treatment plan should involve a complex approach, treating the woman as a whole being.
Work with your doctor to address underlying issues that could be causing your fatigue, such as chronic infection, adrenal dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, abnormal immune activation of coagulation issues, and untreated or undertreated hypothyroidism. Each of these things can put added stress on the entire body, especially the adrenal glands.
Our immune system is what enables us to live harmoniously with our environment: warding off all potential threats in the form of viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins, while receiving the nutrients in the form of food, sunlight, clean air and healthy relationships. More than finding ways to attack the “enemies”, a better long-term approach is to boost and support our immune systems from the inside out in the form of healthy nutrition, herbs and supplements, medications and lifestyle habits.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with approximately 610,000 people dying from this condition each year. Although this condition tends to affect men at a higher rate than women, cardiovascular health is a crucial component of wellness that should be prioritized.
It is important to be aware of your risk factors for developing a heart condition. Unfortunately, there are many risk factors for heart disease and some are controllable while others are not. In fact, the CDC estimates that around 47 percent of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Risk factors include: family history with heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low levels of HDL, diabetes, obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking, and minimal physical activity. In most of these cases, heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle changes, consuming healthy food, and reducing stress levels, just to name just a few.
Women are unique in that they cycle monthly through a wide range of hormonal shifts, where their biochemistry is altered drastically throughout the month. Additionally, her biochemistry changes drastically with each cycle of life: from childhood through menarche to puberty, young adulthood and motherhood, through perimenopause and menopause leading into maturity and end of life. It is important that a woman get to know her body throughout these stages, and listen intently to the needs of her body throughout her day, month and life.
Hormones play a critical role in mental health. For some young women, puberty can feel like permanent premenstrual syndrome — PMS — with constant emotional ups and downs, irritability, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and moodiness. For a variety of reasons — nutrition, genetics, hormone balance, etc. — other women sail through monthly cycles with few symptoms, while others struggle every month with debilitating depression, anxiety, and fatigue. While PMS may be a favorite joke of comedians, it is no laughing matter to the women who suffer from it. In recent years, mental health professionals recognized a condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) — where hormonal shifts cause anxiety, severe depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in sufferers.
Other sex hormone imbalances — progesterone deficiency, estrogen deficiency or dominance, and testosterone deficiency — can cause a variety of symptoms at any point in life. In men, too much estrogen can cause depression or mood swings, and too little testosterone can cause depression, fatigue, mental fogginess, weight gain, and low sex drive. In women, sex hormone imbalances can cause the whole gamut of mental health symptoms.
Women support the weight of the world. They support families, run businesses, non-profits, schools and communities. Therefore, they need support. It is paramount that women find a medical practitioner who takes the time to listen to their health concerns and goals. Gone is the one-pill-for-all approach, and “your labs are normal, it’s all in your head”. Women should feel that they are in partnership with their doctor and that they are building a long-term relationship, with the goal of optimizing their health throughout their life span.
Establishing good quality health care and addressing the root cause of symptoms can greatly improve a woman’s overall health. Call (877) 508-1177 today to book an appointment with a Holtorf Medical Group provider and get your health back on track.