I have had more interest and access to information on women's health, simply because I am one.
I also know that women's health has largely been ignored until relatively recently, and that we are plagued not only by social stigma, but myth and downright lies when it comes to caring for our most precious vehicle and its inhabitant: us.
So that is why this section.
I'll begin just outside of true childhood, because despite minor differences, boys and girls to a certain age require pretty much the same so far as their health is concerned.
I will mention here, though...
The current trend toward over-vaccination, and some useless vaccinations should be considered (and will be) but not on this page.
That said - I am not against vaccination as such. Simply against the stupidity with which it is now practiced.
Beginning about age 9 or ten is when girls start to noticeably veer off from boys in all ways: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Throughout the ensuing stages of life, males and females have differing health needs.
Girls begin to have different nutritional needs as we near the teen years. Our bodies are developing, which may go along with aches and pains never before experienced.
Long before our first menses, we are developing our uniquely female anatomy and hormones. While men do have progesterone and estrogen, girls have far more, and there is a much more delicate balance.
This is where "health" for us becomes women's health.
This is the time in a girl's life known as puberty. It is associated with mood swings (a re-visitation of early childhood temper tantrums!), physical aches and pains and a lot of mental and emotional issues.
There are a lot of women's health issues that come with this age.
Proper nutrition, with special attention to certain vitamins and minerals - and an ample supply of high quality fat and protein can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of puberty.
Our nutritional needs are changing again! So is our need for exercise. Many of us suffer from low self-worth and even lower self-esteem. We don't trust ourselves, and we don't trust our bodies.
On top of this, there is still a societal stigma surrounding menstruation. Really ladies - menstruation is our time! It is a time of power and beauty, strength and courage, and a time to honor ourselves.
This can be one of the most empowering times of a woman's life if handled intelligently and with compassion. Our bodies seem foreign to us as they change daily, sometimes seemingly hourly!
Along with menses can come mineral deficiencies and their attendant problems. Acne, weight gain, loose joints, developing urges, emotional issues, the potential for weakening bones - all are attendant with these years.
Proper nutrition is essential, and, again, the employment of better quality fats and proteins can go a long way to keeping symptoms of PMS and other women's health issues associated with our menstruating years at bay.
Movement is also essential, and proper exercise is a must. Not negotiable. Fresh air and engagement with peers is healthy and natural, but we still need guidance.
Certain vitamins, which are easily found in whole foods, will go a long way to preventing the depression that some women suffer during these years.
And parents - if you are considering giving your children (of either gender) Gardasil - do your homework. First. Nough said on this page...
As we become sexually active, we have yet another set of considerations to take into account to maintain our health. There are all sorts of things to think about, from disease to the possibility of pregnancy.
Pregnancy is another major milestone to consider about women's health. Now its not just us, there are two we are thinking for!
Obviously, when we are preparing to nurture another life within us, we should be thinking in terms of optimal nutrition and health.
If we grew up eating, drinking, exercising and sleeping properly (99% of us did not!), this next phase of our life should be a no-brainer.
However, given the electro-magnetic, heavy metal, environmental and air and water-borne toxins we fend off daily, it might not be as easy as one thinks - even if we were health angels all our lives.
To give a growing life the healthy, happy start it deserves, most physicians will simply prescribe pre-natal vitamins, have us watch our weight, and that will be about it.
A pregnant woman's health is about so much more than this!!!
A growing fetus will take from our bodies what it needs, whether or not we have enough to give. That's just the way life is - and that fact is responsible for many of the complications we face during pregnancy.
To ward off those women's health issues, the time immediately before through shortly after conception are of paramount importance.
Feminine sexuality has been demonized for well more than the last 2000 years. Its high time that we reclaimed our bodies, our feelings and our sovereignty!
Reclaiming our sexuality and our sensuality is of the utmost importance in women's health. When we cut ourselves off from this most primal and most basic part of ourselves, we can't help but lose.
Yet, it frightens us so...
This section will focus not only on the changes in our bodies from adolescence through our elder years, but also on the emotional and mental needs we have regarding our bodies and our sexuality.
And not just sex, but also sensuality. To be whole, we must own all parts of ourselves...
We owe it to ourselves and to our daughters to come to terms with our own personal reality regarding this most intimate part of our lives. To be empowered is to empower others, and ladies - we are becoming empowered whether we like it or not!
Might as well enjoy it -
As pregnancy progresses, many women develop cravings. Wive's tales and old wisdom say to follow those - they are signs from your body that you are missing something.
This may very well be true, but use judgement as well. We all know that soda and chocolate are not exactly good for us, but all things in moderation. Sorry to food militants out there, but I am not giving up the chocolate. Ain't happenin.
Some would say otherwise, but our mental and emotional health is just as important to our growing child as is our physical health. This is not a military operation!
Besides - baby will let us know if we've ingested too much sugar, caffeine, or something that is not agreeable to his or her tastes. It will be obvious.
Still, we must not only nurture this new little one growing inside us, but we must strengthen and prepare our bodies for the hard work of child-birth and most likely nursing.
We need ample nutrients to keep up our own immune system, because that growing baby is going to take way more than most of us figure.
We also need wholesome fats and lots of them. And yes, for my money (and that of the people working with the Weston A. Price Foundation) animal fats.
There are simply some amino acids and some forms of fat that one will never be able to get from a strictly plant-based diet.
Women's health during these ages is mandatory if we are going to bring healthy children into this world, and nurture them successfully all the way into adulthood.
That said, there are many different women's health options for pregnancy and child-birth. Doulas, mid-wives, with drugs, without drugs, in a hospital , home-birth, who will be with us - and then there are decisions about what to do with the afterbirth.
In addition, we should have done our homework by now, and made decisions on exactly what we will allow to be given/done to our child during his or her first few hours and days of life.
I consider this a women's health issue primarily because it will affect us as much and in kind as it does our newborn child.
There are a lot of considerations here - from silver nitrate to testing to vaccination and so on.
Don't wait until delivery to make these decisions - study up and have a firm conviction in mind long before little Johnnie or Joanie takes that first breath.
And, as they did with my daughter when both of my grand-daughters were born - have a birth plan that is signed by all parties: parents, doctor, etc.
This way there are no questions, and actions outside of that plan - which is a legal document - have consequences.
Women's health during our child rearing years is largely ignored, and not just by the doctors. We ignore our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs in the name of giving to our families.
By doing so, we rob ourselves of the very best years of our lives. We also set ourselves up for dis-ease.
Attention to diet, exercise, and so on are given. But we should also be paying attention to mental and emotional enrichment, spiritual practices, stress reduction (ALWAYS an issue when there are children involved!) and rest and rejuvenation.
Not just women's health, but everyone's is not getting easier to maintain these days. When we DO get sick, we are getting sicker younger. Stress is a killer. Sacrificing good habits due to schedules and other factors creates health problems.
We are surrounded by toxins constantly. In the air, in the water (and not just the water we drink, but the water we cook with and shower in). Toxins in our food, cosmetics and so on. The chemicals we choose to clean with, the carpet or paint we use in our homes - all of these things can wreak havoc on our health.
Mental enrichment in the form of learning new things, taking an active roll in our family beyond parenting, is much needed lest we find ourselves lost when the kids go off to college or move out.
Social enrichment is also of paramount importance. Without social contact we become one dimensional which leads to depression and a host of physical health problems itself.
We simply MUST take good care of ourselves!
While there are always feelings of loss when the kids leave home, this should be a time of expansion and exploration. Its not the end of the world! Its a new beginning!!
If we move into these years as healthy, happy women, they can be the very best of our lives. We are still young enough to do all those things on the bucket list that perhaps were not "kid friendly."
We can rekindle the passion and sensuality of our younger years, explore ideas we never would allow ourselves earlier, and maybe even go back to school or take a few courses in subjects we always wanted to learn but never had time for.
This is when we should find out the true state of our health, and should actively reverse any conditions that will hinder our enjoyment of our later years (if we haven't been doing this all along).
In our grand-mothers' time, we would be considered to be on a collision course with our elderly years. These days we are barely approaching middle age in our 40's and 50's!
We've got a long way to go, and really, don't we want to hit our later years happy, healthy and active? I know I do! (And I have some really bad habits I am not yet willing to give up... I am CERTAINLY no angel.)
The "Change of Life" is not to be feared, or even worried about. It is natural, and it will happen to all women sooner or later.
There are things you can do to minimize the "symptoms" such as the hot flashes, the weight gain, the mood swings and so on. These largely have to do with the hormonal changes, the toxins we haven't rid ourselves of, exhaustion or - heaven forbid - dis-ease.
Get the tests (but know which ones to get!), use the herbs and supplements, and get support of other women.
The time has long since passed when we should have tossed the competition and lack of trust in our sisters. If the Western Woman is to change the world, she certainly cannot do it alone. We need each other!
One of my favorite and one of the foremost authorities on womens' health at this age is Dr. Christiane Northrup. If she is not the epitome of a vibrant, sexy, involved and courageous woman - I don't know who is. She is also a doctor.
She knows her S**t both personally and professionally about women's health. And she is pushing the limits on what women believe they are capable at this age and beyond!
I am not so certain there is such a thing as "elderly years" anymore. Not quite convinced there isn't, but definitely it is not as it was for our mothers and grand-mothers!
I'm hearing more and more of women finally "coming into their own" during these years - and accomplishing truly phenomenal things!
I'm hearing stories of businesses being created (and fortunes!), taking up new sports and hobbies, phenomenal sex lives and a creative energy only matched in early childhood.
There are women in their 80's running marathons for Goddess' sake!
So long as we are committed to maintaining our health, medical and scientific advances happening now could foreseeably extend our life-spans to well over 100 years.
If we are to start living to advanced ages, then we ought to be healthy and vibrant enough to enjoy it. Otherwise, what's the point??
Incredible things are happening in all sorts of areas that will impact our later years, and many of them seem poised to make things better as we go along.
I'm excited about the possibilities of things like stem-cell therapy (its not what we think), epi-genetics and other new and soon-to-come technologies. They may not be specific to women's health, but they are out there, and they are amazing.
We will not deal with end of life here, but in its own section, another time.
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