Here's What You Need to Know About Women's Health At Every Stage of Womanhood
Our health is the most precious thing we have. And as women, we experience different stages of womanhood that each brings up various symptoms, health challenges, and changes. Understanding the different stages and knowing what to expect and how to best take care of your health during each stage is so important. In celebration of Women's Health Week happening May 9-15, we're giving you a loving reminder to prioritize your health by outlining some tips and important things to know about women's health at every stage of womanhood.
Menstruation is considered the 5th most vital health sign. It provides clues to how your overall health is doing, which is why it's essential to pay attention to any changes that occur. Changes to your menstrual cycle can include becoming irregular, spotting unusual discharge in your undies, an increase in PMS symptoms, cramps getting worse, or a missed period. By the way, a missed period isn't always a sign of pregnancy. Hormone imbalances, stress, and even body weight can impact your menstrual cycle.
Pro tip: It can be helpful to keep a menstrual cycle log (either on paper or digitally) where you jot down any changes, symptoms, and your mood. This simple ritual will not only help you remember the changes so you can share them with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN, but it’ll also help you understand your body and your cycle better. You’ll start to spot patterns and see how the different phases of your cycle influence the way you feel.
During pregnancy, your body goes through so many major changes. While it's truly incredible to grow life inside of you, the experience comes with many symptoms that are not so fun such as morning sickness, needing to pee constantly, and not to mention mood swings due to all the hormonal changes.
In case you didn't know, here's a fun fact about pregnancy: Pregnant women essentially grow a temporary organ called the placenta that connects the growing fetus to the mother's uterus. The placenta produces hormones which are responsible for all the changes and are needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy. To put things in perspective, at full term, a pregnant woman produces more estrogen in a day than a non-pregnant will in three years. As you can imagine, this increase in hormones will make you feel like you're on an emotional rollercoaster.
After giving birth, then comes the postpartum phase. As expected, the vagina becomes swollen and even bruised after delivery. In addition to taking care of your new baby, it's also essential that you take care of yourself, too—mentally, emotionally, and physically. That includes giving your lady parts lots of TLC, especially if you had a vaginal delivery.
Many women swear by padsicles to help decrease inflammation down there. To make your own padsicles, take a plush, organic pad—in this case, the bigger, the better—add some witch hazel and aloe vera, wrap it up in aluminum foil, put it in the freezer to chill, and then place the pad on your underwear as usual for soothing relief. You can even pre-chill a bunch of them before childbirth, so they're ready to go when you need them.
And lastly, be gentle with yourself during the postpartum phase. Not only are you adjusting to a new baby, your body too went through a lot during delivery and needs time and care to heal. Lean on your support system as much as possible. You don't have to do everything yourself. Your baby needs you to show up as your best self, and you can't do that if you're not filling up your own cup too.
To best take care of your health during pregnancy, firstly, practice self-compassion. You're growing a human inside of you! It's okay to feel like you're all over the place at times. And, most importantly, bring up any questions or concerns with your doctor to ensure a smooth pregnancy.
The age women experience menopause can range from their late 40s to 50s. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease during this time. Menopause is confirmed after one year of not having your period, but getting there is a gradual process. Typically, menopause symptoms begin three years before your last period and can last four and a half years after.
Unfortunately, menopause symptoms can be far from pleasant. They can include hot flashes, muscle and joint pain, and mood swings. Eating a healthy diet and exercise can help manage the symptoms, but always speak to your doctor if you have specific questions. Although menopause can feel like an ending of sorts, shifting your perspective can also help make the experience easier. Look at menopause as the beginning of your period-free stage of life. The possibilities are endless.