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Addressing women’s health issues

Dr. M. R. Krishnamurthy is a primary care physician with 42 years of experience. After completing his MBBS, he has worked in the UK and Canada.

In this article let us discuss women’s health issues.

There are a few problems that are seen more often in women than in men. For example, osteoporosis, a bone condition where the bones become weak, especially after menopause. One needs to be physically active to maintain adequate bone and muscle mass to prevent this very painful and debilitating disease later on. One also needs adequate Vitamin D intake. It is a myth that sun exposure ensures adequate Vitamin D levels. For one thing, we don’t expose enough body area, and other factors like skin colour, obesity and air pollution also affect Vitamin D levels (dark skinned people make less Vitamin D and being obese makes the body store Vitamin D in fat cells where it’s not useful). As a rule, one can take a long acting Vitamin D preparation of 60000 units once a month (many such products are available on prescription). Calcium supplements are not necessary except in pregnancy, lactation and established osteoporosis.

Thyroid problems and varicose veins are also more common in women. Underactivity of thyroid can cause menstrual irregularities (usually heavy and prolonged bleeding causing anaemia), constipation, increased hair fall, dry skin and lethargy. To prevent varicose veins, avoid standing or sitting in one place for long periods of time. Pacing up and down instead of standing, helps blood to get back into the circulation instead of getting pooled in the legs. Likewise, keeping the legs on a footstool while sitting does the same.

Women are protected from heart disease to some extent until menopause. After that, they are prone to the same extent as men. So, a yearly check-up is necessary, with lipid profile and an ECG. Symptoms of a heart attack can also be different in women. They need not have chest pain; it can be pain in the jaw, neck or arm, or just unusual tiredness.

Any persistent abdominal discomfort needs to be investigated with an ultrasound exam. It should not be dismissed as ‘gas problems’. Cancer of the ovaries can sometimes present as vague abdominal discomfort.

This article was originally published in magazine in the month of October, 2018.


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