While the newspaper today is full of women’s dreams, rights, aspirations and equal opportunity slogans; there is no denying the fact that in a large slice of the world, girls and women remain ignorant about their health issues and the society too is careless about their health quotient. To begin with, take a look at these statistics –
- Only 37% of women have access to healthcare services as compared to 67% men (as per a study by AIIMS and Harvard University)
- Housewives were one of the largest groups committing suicides in India in 2018 with nearly 63 housewives killing themselves every day
- More than 39% of Indian women claim they are not able to work out daily because of work responsibilities
- Less than 20% of women in India have access to clean hygiene for menstrual care
- And the proportion of overweight and obese women has almost doubled in India in the last 17 years
In an equitable world, women empower women; as they say, queens fix each other’s crown. On Women’s Day, I as a doctor; share some of the thoughts that women can do for other women and girls in their household. Such small actions would go a long way in building a healthy future for the Indian women –
1. Menstruation is a taboo topic in India. But I advise all the women to talk about it especially about hygiene and cleanliness with their daughters. Do not leave this responsibility for school counselors. Talk to your girls on how unhygienic choices like cloth or husks can give them infections, rashes, and discomfort.
2. The thyroid is a very common problem in Indian women. But it is very much manageable. So women must encourage their relatives and friends to get their thyroid function test done once they reach the age of 35 or if they notice symptoms like weakness, hair thinning, weight gain or fatigue like situation. Women must consult a doctor if thyroid function comes out of range.
3. Rather than going on crash or fad diets, women and girls of the household should motivate each other to begin with some physical activity and devote at least 45 minutes every day. It is very important for women as well to lift weights and do strength training. Strength training would also help the postmenopausal women minimize the risk of osteoporosis, which is a common problem in this stage for women. Eat a balanced diet and pay attention to your nutritional needs. Taking Calcium and vitamin supplements as recommended after 40 are equally essential for women.
4. There is no gender bias for health problems like Diabetes, Cholesterol and Blood Pressure; women are at equal risk of heart diseases as well. So every woman should also get their yearly tests done reflecting on their overall health. After a certain age, breast mammography should be doe and periodic breast examination is also recommended. In case, women notice some spotting or irregular bleeding, Pap Smear, Uterus ultrasound, and hormonal tests should be done and the reports should be shown to a gynecologist for consultation and medication.
5. And finally, the problem of PCOS – Polycystic ovary syndrome – is for real. Nearly one in every five women is reported to be suffering from PCOS. The common symptoms are irregular periods, unwanted male-pattern hair growth or excessive facial hair and obesity. So if you see any young girl or a woman facing such challenges; instead of body-shaming her, make sure to give her emotional support and share your knowledge about the matter. Unmanaged and untreated PCOS can create the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer and cholesterol problems in the long run. Hence, it calls for a serious treatment rather than a cosmetic solution!
The alchemy of women empowerment includes working for women’s health as well. And every husband also must take care of her spouse’s health just like the woman takes care of the entire household. Looking forward to more seeing more women taking charge of their health and inspiring many others in the process! Happy Women’s Day to the half of the world who is the reason for the existence of the other half.
Dr. Sachin Mittal is one of the leading endocrinologists in Tricity with a commitment to work for public health and awareness campaigns. Post his DM in Endocrinology from Topiwala National Medical College & B.Y.L. Nair Hospital, Mumbai, India; he did two years of Post – Doctoral Fellowship (Pediatric Endocrinology) from Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. Being an opinion leader in Diabetes Prevention and Management, he keeps on addressing seminars and workshops, of both medical fraternity as well as common people. He is also the Founding Director of Sweet Diabetes Foundation, an NGO that works to help the children suffering from Diabetes.