Common women’s health concerns

Common women’s health concerns

If you’re not feeling so great and keep putting off going to the doctor, then this is for you. We’ve listed the most common women’s health issues, to keep you informed.

Cardiovascular disease is a women’s health problem too

Contrary to common belief, cardiovascular disease can strike women too. Heart disease and stroke cause a third of all deaths in women worldwide. The statistics are shocking. In fact, four million women die of ischemic heart disease, while three million die from stroke each year. Further, two million women die primarily of rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and inflammatory heart disease

Some common symptoms in women are shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; breaking out in a cold sweat; nausea or light-headedness.

Seven out of 10 South African women are overweight and 42% of these are obese

Obese and overweight individuals have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis and kidney disease. They also tend to die younger. Obesity in women causes menstrual abnormality, infertility and miscarriage. Obese pregnant women are at an increased risk of infections, pregnancy hypertension and gestational diabetes.

Reproductive issues are a reality

Endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids and ovarian cancer are common women’s health issues faced by South African women. These diseases may lead to infertility in some women. Symptoms include:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Mild to severe cramping
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex

So be sure to get a check-up with your gynaecologist at least once a year.

Breast cancer

One of the greatest health fears for a woman is breast cancer. One in 33 women in South Africa is at risk. Look out for a lump or mass in the breast, discharge from or a rash around the nipples, and/or skin dimpling on the breast. Do a monthly self-examination and visit your doctor if you notice anything abnormal.

Cervical cancer

More women develop and die of cervical cancer than any other type of cancer in South Africa. But cervical cancer is a preventable disease and can be cured if detected and treated in its early stages.

The cause of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection. It does not affect men, although they are carriers of the virus. Factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer include early sexual activity, multiple sexual partners and smoking.

Gynaecological check-ups and pap smears ensure detection of cervical cancer.

Serisha Singh