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A health care guide for young women

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Health and wellness may not be foremost on the minds of most girls and young women. This time in their lives is full of big emotions and significant changes. As a result, health is not often prioritized, or might be a cause of embarrassment for those who are seeking answers.

A recent analysis of 2022 KFF Women’s Health Survey data, which studied women between the ages of 18 and 35 with a clinical visit in the past two years, found that more than 45 percent report experiencing a negative interaction during those visits. Common complaints include personnel who are dismissive of patients’ concerns. As a result, many women, and particularly young women, often go online to address common concerns instead of making a health care appointment.

Although no advice can replace the expertise of a qualified and caring doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, young women can be mindful of these health issues.

• Anxiety and depression: Feelings of sadness or nervousness are experienced by just about everyone at some point. When these feelings become chronic or are negatively affecting a woman’s life, they may be a byproduct of anxiety or depression. These conditions tend to be different sides of the same coin. Mental health experts have determined that women tend to have higher rates of these common mental issues than men. The good news is that these conditions are highly treatable.

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• Sweating and body odor: As hormones fluctuate, the body changes in different ways. Excessive sweating and/or the development of stronger body odor may be a symptom. Body odor occurs when sweat mixes with natural bacteria on the skin. Taking showers regularly, wearing cotton or natural fabrics, using an antiperspirant/deodorant, and drinking plenty of water may help.

• Irregular periods: It is normal to experience irregular periods for the first few years of menstruation, and sometimes even longer, says Nemours Health. The average menstrual cycle will last between 21 and 35 days. Excessive exercise, failure to eat enough calories, certain medicines, stress, and other conditions may lead to irregularity. The only way to know what is going on is to visit a provider.

• Breast health: Breast development differs for girls. Some will develop early, while others, such as those heavy into sports, may see a delay in puberty and breast development. Stretch marks may form from rapid growth of the breasts. Young women should be mindful of any changes in the breasts, including discharge, skin redness or lumps. Breast care that starts early on can lead to a routine that continues later in life.

• Healthy diet and exercise: Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women, indicates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young women should keep this in mind and develop healthy eating and exercise habits that can promote good heart health throughout life.

• Energy drinks: In October 2023, a college student with a heart condition perished after consuming a caffeine-enhanced lemonade at a popular franchise food chain. She did not realize the drink contained more caffeine than many energy drinks. The Center for Women’s Health advises that energy drinks are not recommended for teens, and that combining energy drinks with alcohol can be extremely dangerous.

Women’s health advocacy should begin early on to set the course for a lifetime of good habits.

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