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    Empowering Women, Cultivating Health

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | May 12th, 2024

    Empowering Women, Cultivating Health

    My children usually ask me what I want for Mother’s Day, and I give them the same answer—I just want you happy. I really do not need stuff. This year, they did not ask me. They put me on a conference call and said I should look at my email. They pooled their money together and got me a gift certificate for a massage. “Mom, you are always preaching about self-care. The next time you are post-call, get a massage.” 

    Mother’s Day is always the start of National Women’s Health Week. This year’s theme is Empowering Women, Cultivating Health: Celebrating Voices, Wellness, and Resilience.  This week serves as a reminder that, as women, we need to prioritize our health. We cannot be the caregiver for all if we cannot care for ourselves first. We are encouraged to take charge of our health journey. We need to take control of our health and be empowered to use our voices to share our concerns. 

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done a great job listing the steps we need to take to prioritize our health.

      1. To find out about screenings and exams you may need and when they should occur. You can also explore the covered preventive services for women and other services available for women at no cost.
      1. If you are pregnant or within the year after delivery, seek immediate care from a healthcare provider if you are experiencing urgent maternal warning signs.
      • If anything does not feel right or is concerning. Make an appointment or contact your doctor or nurse by phone or e-mail. Write down any questions or issues you may have and take them to your appointment.
      • Include a healthy eating plan that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free or low-fat milk and other dairy products, and lean meats. You can also add to or substitute dairy products with lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurts. Your eating plan should be low in salt, saturated and trans fats, and added sugars. Learn more healthy eating tips.
      • If you could become pregnant, take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Taking folic acid before and during pregnancy reduces the risk that the baby will have a major birth defect of the brain or spine.
      • Avoid drinking too much alcohol.  Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions and can lead to chronic diseases. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation, which is 1 drink or less a day for women Check your drinking habits and make a plan to drink less alcohol.
      • Move more and sit less. Every little bit of physical activity helps. Start small and build up to 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. You can break it into smaller amounts of time, such as 20 to 30 minutes a day.
      • Get out and about and enjoy the spring and summer weather. Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Physical activity has many benefits, including lowering your risk for heart disease—the leading cause of death for women.
      • Adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity that requires moderate effort. You don’t have to do it all at once.
      • Adults should do strengthening activities t least 2 days a week that include all major muscle groups. More than one out of four older people falls each year and women fall more often than men. Strength and balance training can help reduce falls.
      • Take five.Take a deep breath and relax. Even five minutes to take care of yourself can help.
      • Be active.Take a walk, stretch, or exercise.
      • Connect with others. Reach out to friends and family.
      • Seek support from friends, family, and trusted organizations.Talk about your feelings with others. Reach out to clergy or others in your faith community.
      • Get help from a professional.Talk to a health care provider about how you are feeling.
      • Make an appointment with a counselor.
      • Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988.
      • Take time to unwind and enjoy your favorite activities.
      • Keep your mind and body healthy. Research shows that positive mental health is associated with better overall health and well-being. There are some important steps you can take to get the support you need to cope with stress and improve your well-being.
      • Take steps to prevent yourself from getting sick— Keep up with regular health appointments and make sure to get vaccinated.
      • Get enough sleep for your overall health. It impacts how you feel and perform during the day. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Good habits, such as following a regular sleep schedule, including weekends, make it easier for you to get the sleep you need.
      • Make time to unwind. Try to do some activities you enjoy.
      • Connect with others. Having quality relationships and a sense of belonging is important for both our physical and mental health. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
      • Find a local support group. Support groups provide a safe place for people to find comfort. You are not alone.
      • Recognize when you need more help. If stress gets in the way of your daily activities for more than two weeks, or you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help. You can talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor.
      • If you are experiencing violence, reach out for support. Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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    Secure Your Copy of Sincerely, Your Gynecologist by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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