On this page, you'll learn about:
Lifestyle changes – like getting more exercise, eating nutritious foods, and not smoking – can prevent disease. We’ve compiled resources to help you set lifestyle goals and create a personal plan for getting healthier.
Well Woman Checks
As women, our wellness needs change over time. It’s important to know what screenings you need, and when. Learn more about what screenings to request from your doctor, based on your age.
Women are more likely to experience chronic pain – such as migraines, neck pain, and lower back pain – than men. Learn about pain management techniques, including lifestyle changes and alternative therapies.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Liu KA, Mager ND. Pharm Practice (Granada). 2016; 14(1): 708. doi: 10.18549/PharmPract.2016.01.708
As women, we make 80% of the healthcare decisions in our family. In the United States, we constitute 70% of caregivers for the elderly. As we manage these responsibilities and more, it’s easy to be distracted or not have the time to maintain our own health. A Healthier Woman is tool that aims to maximize the time you do have by connecting you with trusted resources to help you understand your unique health needs.
These informative resources range from tips for building healthier lifestyle habits, to recommendations for wellness checkups, to tools for pain management. Whether you’re a professional, a mother, a partner, a caregiver, or all of the above, A Healthier Woman has something for you.
A Healthier Woman is tool that aims to maximize the time you do have by connecting you with trusted resources to help you understand your unique health needs.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Leading Causes of Death (LCOD) by Race/Ethnicity, All Females-United States, 2015. cdc.gov/women/lcod/2015/race-ethnicity/index.htm.
Regular exercise can help prevent diseases that affect women, including heart disease and stroke. It can also help relieve symptoms of conditions including high blood pressure, depression, and type 2 diabetes.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that, each week, women get at least:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as a brisk walk.
- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as jogging
- A combination of both of the above and muscle strengthening activities, such as lifting weights.
Often, healthy eating is affected by things that are not directly under our control, like how close the grocery store is to our house or job. Focusing on the choices we can control will help us make small changes in daily life to eat healthier.
As women, we have unique nutritional needs and may need more vitamins and minerals depending on our life stage. Some general recommendations are below:
- Calories: On average, adult women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day.
- Vitamins and minerals: Certain vitamins and minerals are important for women’s health, including calcium, iron, folate, and vitamin D. Foods that contain these nutrients include leafy greens, colorful vegetables, fish, eggs, whole grains, and fortified cereals.
Women can face unique challenges to quitting smoking, and typically try to quit more times than men before they quit for good. The benefits of quitting are enormous and immediate for women. Within the first year after quitting smoking, the risk of a heart attack drops dramatically. Within five years, women who have quit smoking can see their stroke risk drop to that of a never smoker.
Well Woman Checks
Women are at a unique risk for certain diseases, many of which are preventable if detected early. The National Academy of Medicine recommends annual well-woman visits with your doctor once a year. These visits include a full checkup, and focus on providing screenings for certain types of cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other diseases, depending on your age and level of risk.
The chart below shows what kinds of screenings you should be requesting, depending on your age.
Source: Women's Prevention Services Initiative
Well-Woman Chart. 2018. womenspreventivehealth.org/wellwomanchart/
Most insurance plans cover at-least one well-woman visit per year at no cost to you. If you don’t have health insurance, the costs can vary; many women qualify for free or low-cost wellness exams at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Chronic Pain: In Depth. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/chronic.htm.
Chronic pain, which is often defined as pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, affects about one in three adults in the US. 70% of those affected by chronic pain are women. Women suffer from migraine headaches and neck, facial and lower back pain at up to twice the rate men do. In addition, women are more likely to develop conditions that cause chronic pain. For example, women are three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and four to seven times more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men are.
While the exact reasons for this discrepancy haven’t been pinpointed yet, biology and hormones are suspected to play a role. Sometimes called the “invisible disability,” chronic pain is a leading cause of missed work. It can result in health issues such as:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty moving
- Reduced quality of life
Because they are more likely to experience chronic pain, women tend to be prescribed higher and lengthier doses of opioids for pain management. This makes women more likely to experience opioid addiction and overdose.
If you experience chronic pain, taking an opioid to relieve the pain isn’t your only option. Other medications, such as NSAIDS, aren’t addictive and can be just as effective for pain management. Besides medication, physical therapy, massage therapy, heating pads, acupuncture and lifestyle changes are known to help reduce chronic pain.