Everyone tries to get sleep, and it seems that no one gets enough of it. Lack of sleep is one of the leading indicators of accidents, difficulty in mental processing, heart disease and lack of sex drive.
Women have their own issues to deal with in regards to sleep and health, such as –
· Sleep disturbances during pregnancy due to excess weight and the position of the fetus.
· Difficulty sleeping during menopause due to hot flashes.
· Being woken and moved about by a partner in the same bed (men tend to be larger than women.)
· Differences in hormone make up makes it harder for women to recover from lack of sleep (specifically, differences in testosterone, which has an anti-inflammatory effect.)
So, what can women do to get better sleep? Here are some ideas and tips –
Clinical Psychologist Kelly Baron recently told Shape.com that 16 weeks of aerobic exercise four days a week helped women get 7 hours of rest nightly. It’s known that exercise increases dopamine levels and overall wellbeing. As lower stress levels can lead to easier sleep, exercise creates a virtuous cycle that makes for better sleep and health.
Diet and Vitamins
As we mentioned in our recent article , both vitamins and diet can lead to better sleep. Radical weight loss programs can be just as bad for sleep and health as obesity. Speak with your doctor about a reasonable program of diet and weight control. Everyone has different needs, but working on a reasonable nutrition program with your GP, as part of an overall health exam, can earn big dividends in improving sleep and quality of life.
Particularly, B vitamins, Iron and Calcium are important for women’s health. Speak with your doctor about these issues.
Establishing a regular schedule
Bodies work on natural rhythms, and a chaotic schedule can wreak havoc on the body, especially with regard to sleep. Sleep restores our bodies, and it’s easier for the body to deal with smaller amounts of sleep on a regular schedule than a chaotic, constantly changing one. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s recent study links irregular sleep schedules to adverse metabolic health in women.
Sleep and the hormone cycle
Hormone cycles that are part of the regular menstrual process can have effects on the sleep cycle, and vice versa. Premenstrual Insomnia is an issue for many women, which is associated with a drop in the hormone Progesterone. This can be dealt with by a number of strategies, but it should start with a discussion with both your GP and OB GYN.
Speak with your doctor
Your general practitioner is the best starting resource, as well as talking with your gynecologist about reproductive health issues. Sleep issues often indicate larger patterns with overall health, and rest can be improved with lifestyle changes.Do you have questions about woman’s health and sleep? Let us know.
It’s hard to stay on top of getting the recommended daily allowance of vitamins as part of nutrition in our hectic lives. Further, we’re constantly bombarded with products that contain specious claims as to efficacy of vitamins. Women have different needs from men as well. Here are some good sense guidelines to stay on top of your vitamin needs in a reasonable, sensible manner.
The Big 3 – Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin D
While all nutrients are important, these 3 nutrients are especially important for women.
Iron – The national institutes of health recommends 18 mg of iron daily, with increased dosages for woman with heavy periods. Too little iron can create conditions of anemia and weakened immune systems in women.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D is something of a miracle vitamin – it’s capable of reducing risk of breast cancer by as much as 50%, it can offer protection from diabetes, and help prevent ovarian cancer. Vitamin D also is essential in muscle function and absorption of calcium. Finally, Vitamin D helps battle depression. The daily recommended dosage is between 1,000 and 2,000 mg.
Calcium – Calcium is essential because women start losing bone density in their early twenties. Women should start with a daily dose of 1,000 mg of calcium immediately. Even though cheese, yogurt and milk all contain calcium, a daily supplement is also beneficial on top of that. Calcium is great for nervous system health and healthy teeth.
While the top 3 are the most important, women should also think about other nutrients as well:
B vitamins (B9, B12, B2) – B vitamins are important for both young women (who need B9, which guards against cancer and birth defects) and expectant mothers). The B vitamins help maintain mental alertness (B12) and as well as metabolism and muscle tone (all B vitamins). Most B vitamins can be found in a cup of morning cereal, but a reasonable women’s multi-vitamin taken once daily will usually cover this.
Vitamin C – While not the cold fighter that folk lore claims it to be, Vitamin C is actually great for long term immune system health, prevent heart disease, and event help cub eye illnesses. It also helps wounds heal faster and fends off wrinkles(!) The recommended daily dosage of C can usually be found in a single orange, a red pepper or a cup of broccoli.
Usually, most of these can be covered with an over the counter woman’s daily vitamin supplement. When getting a standard health exam, you can ask your general practitioner to check for vitamin levels as part of your blood draw. You can pass these results over to your gynecologist and other specialists who can then make specific recommendations for your diet and lifestyle.
Depression and anxiety is a challenge for everyone. Women are particularly vulnerable to depression, and clinical depression can be triggered by a variety of causes. Depression shouldn’t be a source of shame or fear, and it can be managed and overcome. Everyone, even people with otherwise ordinary lives, may have to deal with various kinds of depression over their lives, and it can be dealt with in a proactive, healthy manner.
Depression in women can stem from a variety of sources. 10%-15% of new mothers experience postpartum depression according to the NIH , for example. The stresses of life often lead to depression. Fortunately, there are answers.
Here are some steps you can take to deal with depression:
· Family and friends – This may seem like common sense, but the establishment of an informal support network is vital. While no substitute for professional treatment, loved ones can spot warning signs, offer safety and encouragement, and get you to resources that you need during hard times when dealing with a hard depressive episode. Further, one’s personal network can help in assisting with taking care of children and the other responsibilities of running a home that married and single women are subject to.
· Exercise – Regular exercise (45 minutes daily of vigorous walking or more) increases serotonin levels and increases overall energy levels and health. Getting outside and briskly walking is always a good idea in response to a depressive episode.
· Diet – Balanced sugar and insulin levels have a great effect on mood, and a healthy diet combined with reasonable exercise can greatly help combat depression. Eating whole foods and cooked nutritious meals, and avoiding processed and fast foods, assists in helping keep up mood – junk food, which is high in processed sugars and carbs, leads to highs then crashes. Goodfoods.com lists 10 mood foods to that can are healthy and can help bring your body chemistry into balance.
· CBT self-interview – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a proven technique used by therapists the world over where ideas are examined, scrutinized objectively, and accepted or rejected based on fact. Depression often springs from badly formed ideas which lead to misunderstandings of situations – emotions proceed from understanding of situations. There are several online inventories that can help you examine a situation, understand the facts objectively, and then affirm the reality of the situation and gain confidence and a measure of control and relief from depression. Psychology.tools has several inventories and worksheets that can help you get a handle on bad ideas, one example is this Decatastrophizing/Decatatrophising worksheet.
· Personal self-improvement – Taking a class, implementing a job search strategy, looking over your personal schedule, and otherwise taking steps to gain control are essential for battling depression. These can be done in small, easy steps.
· Getting a support advocate – while most health plans offer therapy as part of benefits, getting weekly to a therapist often isn’t feasible for some women. Most sets of corporate benefits have emergency assistance programs that offer emergency counseling and referrals to longer term treatment. There are also services like Talkspace , which offer LCSW licensed therapists over mobile devices and services like Skype. Finally, local woman’s advocacy services can refer you to confidential support for depression. This can be as informal as simply an accountability partner or as in depth as a full psychologist. Local government services such as NYC’s Lifenet Counseling Referral can get you to an advocate who can be in your corner and can be your listening board, help you make plans, be understanding, and perhaps provide professional counseling.
· Your doctor – your general practice physician is there to help, and can direct you to a wide varity of services and options that are covered by health insurance. Likewise, your health plan can assit with a wide variety of services and referrals.
While a serious challenge, depression is not insurmountable. Depression is a complex issue that manifests for women in many different ways, but with education and advocacy, it can be managed and ultimately overcome.
In this busy world, it’s really hard for you as a woman to
take time to perform the self-care necessary in one’s life. Here are some tips
that will help you get a grip on increasing health, reducing stress, and
gaining for yourself and for your loved ones better quality of life.
This isn’t as simple as eating less. Starving ourselves to lose weight over the short term can result in long term weight gain. Instead, eating a reasonable, regular meal three times daily that can be prepared at home then grabbed on the go can result in higher energy, better health and lower stress.
Specifically for women, vitamins and gynecological health are huge issues. Intake of vitamins have direct impacts on gynecological health – the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have extensive guidelines for prenatal health , while the National Osteoporosis Foundation strongly urges women to take in 1,000 mg calcium daily before age 50 to maintain bone health. Smoking and alcohol intake can increase this needed amount. Low carb meals, fruits and vegetables and other healthy eating choices can make it easier to meet these needs, as well as vitamin supplements.
A recent Webmd article cites that lack of sleep more adversely affects women than it does men , increasing risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression. Getting 8 hours of sleep a day increases energy levels and overall health.
Even simple steps to increase physical activity can reap great benefits, and it’s never too late to start. The Illinois Department of Health gives good starting steps for women both younger and older than the age of 50. Regular exercise helps maintain bone and joint strength.
Not only are the obvious health benefits of quitting smoking apparent and well documented, but there are several discrete benefits for women. Women who cease smoking are at a lower risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cataracts, and Gum Disease.
Get a better mind
Learning techniques for stress reduction, guided visualization, mindfulness and breathing can help you to reduce stress, and implement the other techniques on this list.
By implementing these simple steps, you can increase your health and quality of life for both yourself and your family.
“The pill”, an oral contraceptive, is a common form of hormonal contraception that at this point is taken by approx. twelve million women in the United States annually. When taken correctly, at the same time daily, it is highly effective. Less than 0.1% have an unintended pregnancy, but this rate can drastically increase if there is a single time missed. Users have to be organized with their time, and arrange their pills beforehand if they feel that this is the contraceptive method for them. “The pill” contains both estrogen and progesterone which are female hormones. At times, your gynecologist could prescribe this for treating other health symptoms regardless of contraception such as: regulating menstrual cycles, reducing heavy periods or the pain associated, endometriosis which includes the development of cysts in the ovaries, premenstrual syndrome, and even acne. They can even be a method to prevent ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Unfortunately, unless paired with a condom, birth control pills do not effectively prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Takers of the pill also have to bear in mind some of the side effects that come with the benefits. Half the people using the pill experience vaginal bleeding between periods, known as spotting, and this is most common during the first three months of taking the pill for the first time. People who experience more than five days of bleeding should contact their doctor. Headaches and nausea is also a common side effect, be sure to take the pill with food or during bedtime to reduce the likeliness of feeling nauseous. If headaches or nausea is severe you should contact your gynecologist. Tenderness of the breasts, most likely due to them becoming large after using “the pill”, is common. Caffeine and salt can increase the tenderness and should be avoided if the pain gets consistent. Be sure to wear a soft bra, instead of one with wire encasing your tender area. Weight gain is often reported as another side effect, perhaps due to fluid retention. Mood fluctuations can set on especially for those who have a history of depression, for those who have mood disorders it is imperative to discuss this with your gynecologist before you take “the pill”. At times an entire period could be skipped. With stress, illness, travel and hormonal abnormalities, even proper pill use could lead to this. A pregnancy test is always recommended for a missed period, and seek advice if a second period is missed. “The pill” can really affect your sex drive, it can result in a decreased libido. If this bothers both you and your partner and doesn’t improve over time, discuss with your gynecologist what might be a better method. Changes in vaginal discharge is a common one, whether it affects sexual intercourse or decreases lubrication depends on the individual use, but if you’re concerned that something else could be attributing to the discharge don’t be afraid to seek out your gynecologist’s attention. There can be changes in the vision, especially for contact lens wearers, if they are inhibiting and renders you less functional, it might be better to consider other contraceptive options with your gynecologist. Signs that you need to immediately seek medical attention include: abdominal pain, chest pain with shortness of breath, severe headaches, blurry or loss of vision, swelling and achiness in the legs and thighs. Birth control pills have brought on in select users, increases in blood pressure, benign liver tumors and slightly greater risk in developing cervical cancer. Combination pills have a slightly increased risk of cardiovascular side effects. The FDA advises any woman who is 35 years or older who smoke to stay away from combinational pills. Some of such combinational pills have a form of synthetic progesterone that have a higher risk of blood clots. If there is a personal history of liver or heart disease, high blood pressure, uterine or breast cancer, stay away completely from hormonal contraceptives. Your gynecologist should be with you every step of the way in making the decision to take “the pill”, don’t shy away from advice and guidance from the leading experts who want to make you safe and happy.
Being a woman is
something that isn’t to be joked about or taken lightly. It takes the strongest
of the strong and the bravest of the brave to face what we do every.single.day.
I mean, we’re like superheroes. We bleed every month and can still dominate in
the boardrooms all while wearing 5-inch stilettos. Women are the cream of the
I have to admit that even with all of our visible greatness; the health issues we face can be discouraging to even the brightest and prettiest woman of our time. We deal with deadly issues such as Toxic Shock Syndrome, Maternal Death, surprisingly enough, Heart Disease! This is something that is highly unfortunate and should not be ignored.
While we’re on the topic of the importance of visiting the GYN, just thought I’d dispel the most common fears when a female walks into our offices for the first time.
1. We will not share your information with anyone, no matter what the circumstance. Here at Jersey GYN, we believe in privacy to the highest degree!
2. The doctor and nurses will NOT gossip about your fears or health status among themselves and/or other patients. We won’t make fun of any questions or procedures you would like to receive.
3. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or nervousness regarding an upcoming visit, you are more than welcome to bring along a relative or friend!
4. Though not listed on our site, our licensed medical practitioners are also trained to diagnosis and treat: Chlamydia, Ovarian cysts, Vulva cancer, Hormonal Disorders, Permanent Birth control and the like!
5. Please do not hesitate to share your fears, thoughts, and worries with your doctor. A doctor-patient relationship is one that thrives off of openness, honesty, and mutual respect.
And yes, I know there is a stigma regarding the gynecologist but isn’t it worth the risk? Or would you rather have your 16-year old daughter sobbing in the front row of your funeral all because you decide to avoid the pelvic pain or bump you felt in your breast?
While this is a medical site suited to inform its patients about the services it provides, it is also BY women and FOR women. And even Joey from down the street knows that females harbor an unmatchable volume of emotional depth. So why not take the time to offer encouraging words to the 21-year old women sitting in the waiting room dreading the news that she’s about to receive regarding her test results?Regardless of what you’re condition has and/or is trying to do to your body, please believe that with the treatments and additional lifestyle changes, you CAN live a long and fulfilling life. You’ll see your children graduate college, bake cookies on Christmas Eve with your grandkids, and play Bingo every Saturday in your 80s.