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Little known physical and mental health tips for women

Every woman has unique health issues, which can change with age and different life stages such as pregnancy and menopause. It’s important to understand the associated risks with each stage so you can take proactive steps to help lower your risks and truly thrive. 

Learn how to prioritize your health with these often-overlooked physical and mental health tips:

1. Start with your heart health

Heart disease and stroke is the number one cause of premature death of women in Canada. Yet 8 in 10 cases are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours such as diet, exercise, quitting smoking and managing stress. Did you know that a small portion of heart disease can be associated with hereditary risks passed down through families.  These genetic forms of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathies can be screened for with Proactive Genetic Screening.  Even if you don't have a hereditary risk identified, we all have a chance of developing common heart diseases such as coronary artery disease. Polygenic Risk Scores can help to determine if your risk is higher than the average person.  The combination of these genetic tests can provide insights that may allow you to take steps to protect your heart health.

2. Be proactive about cancer screenings

Breast, ovarian and cervical cancers are specific concerns for all women with breast cancer being the most common and the second leading cause of death in Canadian women. About 4 in 10 cancer cases can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices such as living smoke free, reducing alcohol and being sun safe. Approximately 5-10% of cancers are associated with a hereditary risk. Proactive Genetic Screening is a good consideration if you are wanting to find out more information about the possibility of a hereditary cancer risk running in your family. This information can empower you and your family to work with your health team to establish an action plan to take preventive steps.

3. Get your overall health on the right track

Early detection is important for health-related issues – at any age. An annual Preventive Health Assessment (PHA) can give you an overall picture of your unique, head-to-toe health status so you can mitigate any possible risks. 

Tests range from blood tests to complete physical exams, including sex-specific testing such as a pelvic exam and cervical screening (pap smear), and other sophisticated diagnostics. Your personal health assessment includes detailed consulting from a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, who work together to set you on a healthy track, including arranging for referrals to specialists when medically appropriate. 

4. Get in tune with your body’s inner rhythms 

Hormone levels fluctuate throughout your cycle and your life stages, and may be affected by other factors such as weight change, chemotherapy treatments and surgical interventions. These hormone imbalances can cause symptoms such as cognitive disruption, physical discomfort, low mood and other behavioural changes. 

Educating yourself and tuning into your body’s signals can give you clarity and help you confidently manage the natural changes of womanhood. For example, you may benefit from cycle syncing if your menstrual cycle is affecting your mental and physical health. If you are experiencing the midlife changes, known as perimenopause, there are strategies you can employ to help you cope during what can be a confusing time for women. 

You can also speak to the health professionals at TELUS Health Care Centres to get personal support for managing hormone-related symptoms.

5. Optimize your mental wellbeing

Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and anxiety, and part of that can be attributed to normal hormonal changes, as well as other factors such as inherited traits, and personal life circumstances.

A good first step to caring for your mental health is to have a wellbeing assessment. It can help you better understand and address the source of your mental health concerns like poor sleep patterns, stress, relationships, and work pressures. You can talk one-on-one with a mental health professional, who will design a personalized action plan specifically for you.

The power of proactive, personalized care

Women’s healthcare concerns are not only different from men’s but also highly unique to each woman. It’s important to learn about the health risks for women, so you can advocate for yourself, and take proactive steps to manage your health, reduce your risks and enjoy a longer, healthier life.