Population Care

10 things doctors wish women knew to manage their health

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

AMA News Wire

10 things doctors wish women knew to manage their health

Sep 1, 2023

Women's health concerns are too often overlooked or dismissed, perpetuating a cycle of inequitable access to quality health care. As the nation’s health system strives to create a more inclusive and equitable future, it is imperative to delve into the different medical needs that should be prioritized to improve women's health.

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The AMA’s What Doctors Wish Patients Knew™ series provides physicians with a platform to share what they want patients to understand about today’s health care headlines.

Here is a list from this series on what doctors wish women knew to enhance their health.

  1. Get screened for breast cancer

    1. While there is no foolproof way to prevent breast cancer, there are things you can do to lower your risk. Some factors you can’t change, but knowing what can help is key to lowering your risk of breast cancer.
  2. Reduce your risk of ovarian cancer

    1. Ovarian cancer affects one or both ovaries. While it is not common, it is the top cause of deaths from any gynecologic cancer in the U.S. This may be because ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it is in an advanced stage. Occurring most commonly in women between 50 and 65, what is known about risk factors has not translated into practical ways to prevent ovarian cancer. Two ob-gyns discuss what they wish patients knew about ovarian cancer prevention.
  3. Be prepared for menopause

    1. Menopause is a natural phase of a woman's life that marks the end of her reproductive years. While it is normal and inevitable, it can bring about significant physical and emotional changes that can affect a woman's overall well-being. Understanding the intricacies of menopause and being aware of the various challenges it presents is crucial for women to effectively manage this transition.
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  4. Know what to expect with breastfeeding

    1. Breastfeeding can be part of the many joyous moments a mother shares with her new baby. It allows mother to form deeper connections with the child while also providing the infant with vital nutrients needed to survive, grow and stay healthy. But breastfeeding can also be a challenge. Finding support and knowing what to expect is key.
  5. Manage polycystic ovary syndrome

    1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of female infertility. It affects between 6% and 12% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. But it is more than just that. PCOS is a lifelong health condition that continues far beyond a woman’s childbearing years. Three physicians discuss what patients need to know.
  6. Prevent cervical cancer

    1. Cervical cancer is a slow-growing disease that rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, but it also is, fortunately, one of the few cancers that’s almost completely preventable. That’s because it comes down to being able to avoid the human papillomavirus, which can be detected in more than 90% of all cervical cancers. Yet the virus alone is not sufficient to cause cervical cancer—there are other contributing factors to keep in mind too.
  7. Learn how to live with migraines

    1. Headaches can be disruptive to a person’s day. But for people with migraines, the discomfort can be so extreme that it blows regular headaches out of the water. While many people may use “migraine” and “headache” interchangeably, not all head pain is classified as a migraine. This neurological condition can cause debilitating pain that can leave a person in bed for days. And it impacts women more often than men and can include menstrual migraines. A neurologist discusses what patients need to know about living with migraines.
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  8. Don’t ignore UTIs

    1. A strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away, a burning feeling or other discomfort when urinating can be signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which affects about 60% of women. While most UTIs are not serious, some can lead to further complications such as kidney infections. That is why knowing the first signs of a UTI and what to do are key.
  9. COVID-19 vaccination doesn’t affect fertility

    1. While COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from SARS-CoV-2 infection, many people who are eligible have elected to not get vaccinated. This is often due to concerns about possible side effects. One concern emerged when a false report surfaced on social media claiming that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can cause infertility in women. The truth is COVID-19 vaccines don’t affect fertility. Learn more from three AMA members.
  10. Take steps for healthy aging

    1. We’ve seen actress Betty White live to the age of 99 and Queen Elizabeth II die at 96 after a 70-year reign. This has a lot to do with healthy aging, which shouldn’t begin as an older adult. And while there are many factors that influence healthy aging, some of these—such as genetics—are not in our control. That is why knowing what steps to take is key.