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Women’s Health: seven things you should know

photo: courtesy flickr via hang_in_there

As we close out National Women’s Health Week, Health Talk thought it fitting to provide women seven things they should know about their health.

Why seven? Why not? There are seven oceans, seven colors in the rainbow, seven wonders in the world, and most importantly – seven days in National Women’s Health Week.

To compile the list, Health Talk spoke to University of Minnesota Physicians women’s health expert Carrie Ann Terrell, M.D., director of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School and director of the Women’s Health Specialists Clinic.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. When should women start getting an annual exam? 

Women should seek ongoing comprehensive and preventive health care their entire lives. Young women who leave a pediatricians office may seek this care with Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, Family Medicine Physicians or Obstetricians-Gynecologists.

2. When should women start checking for breast cancer lumps?  

Routine breast exams are part of comprehensive preventive care and generally occur annually. They are generally initiated at age 21y or with start of hormonal contraception.

3. When should women start getting mammograms?

Mammograms are recommended starting at age 40, every 2 years until age 50 then every year.

4. Are there treatments for PMS?

Multiple and they depend on a woman’s specific symptoms. Treatments include hormonal manipulation, use of SSRI medication, lifestyle modifications, acupuncture, and functional nutrition.

5. What is menopause?

Technically menopause is defined as cessation of menses for at least one year. The years surrounding menopause can be a time of transition and growing for women. We encourage women to use this time to re-evaluate their health and long-term health goals as well as their lives, personal goals, and relationships.

6. How many months is a woman really pregnant? 9? 10?

The due dates we determine for pregnancy are 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period. Given that most women ovulate about 12-14 days from the first day of the last menstrual period that would mean women are generally pregnant for 38 weeks if the pregnancy continues to the due date.

7. Why do women like chocolate?  

I am unaware of any data suggesting women like chocolate more than any men or children. I suspect women are the targets of longstanding marketing ploys and social stigmatization.



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