As women, it's important to speak up for our health and well-being, says Marla Ahlgrimm. With our time focused on kids, work, and our relationships, it's easy to put our health needs on the side shelf and forget about them. However, taking care of ourselves should be a top priority.
Here are some tried-and-true tips on how to advocate for your health:
Get regular check-ups and screenings.
Marla Ahlgrimm says that the best way to advocate for your health is to get regular check-ups and screenings. This includes annual physicals, mammograms, pap smears, and other screenings as recommended by your primary healthcare provider. By staying current with these tests, you stand a better chance of catching health issues early on so that you can take action before they become more serious.
Know your family history.
Your family history can provide important clues about your health risks. Talk to your relatives about any health conditions that run in your family, and share this information with your doctor. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, if you do not know your family medical history, there are genetic tests available that can show your markers for certain health conditions.
Knowledge is the key to everything when it comes to your health. Take the time to educate yourself about common health conditions and how to prevent them. Read up on the latest research and news in women's health, and stay informed about any health concerns that may be relevant to you. Marla Ahlgrimm says to steer clear of social media when you have questions about your health and stick to reputable websites, such as the Mayo Clinic or your doctor's personal health archives.
If you have concerns about your health, don't be afraid to speak up. Your healthcare provider is there to help you, and it will make their job easier if you talk to them about any issues or symptoms you may be experiencing. Marla Ahlgrimm says to be honest and open about your health concerns, even if they are embarrassing.
Take care of your mental health.
Mental health is just as, if not more important, than physical health at times, and Marla Ahlgrimm stresses that it's important to take care of both. When you feel stressed, anxious, or otherwise down and out, don't hesitate to seek help.
Self-care is the least selfish thing you can do, says Marla Ahlgrimm. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating fruit instead of candy, going for a walk every day, and taking time for yourself to do the things you enjoy. By putting yourself first, you'll be better able to take care of yourself and your other responsibilities.
Join a support group.
If you're dealing with a health condition or going through a difficult time, Marla Ahlgrimm says there is no shame in joining a support group. This is a valuable opportunity to speak with other women dealing with the same type of challenges you are. Most support groups are nonprofit, and you'll build relationships that may go with you through the years.
Get a second opinion.
If you're not satisfied with the care you're receiving or have concerns about a diagnosis or treatment plan, you are entitled to a second opinion. Having a new set of eyes and ears on your symptoms can give a fresh perspective and help you make more informed decisions about your health.
At the end of the day, you're your best advocate for your health. But you have to speak up, and you have to take care of yourself. Marla Ahlgrimm says that women should never be afraid of talking to their doctors and should never suffer in silence.