Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? This is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout history. It is also a time to reflect on the progress that has been made, and to think about what still needs to be done in order to achieve gender parity. This year, I would like to encourage all women to get to know their own history. This includes understanding your family health history, and utilizing preventative health services to stay healthy. Knowing your history can help you make informed decisions about your health, and may even save your life. So this Women’s History Month, take some time to get to know yourself and your family/genetic history a little better. It could be the most important thing you do for your health all year.
If you’re like most women, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your family health history. But did you know that understanding your family’s medical history is one of the best things you can do for your own health? Knowing if anyone in your family has had breast, uterine, ovarian, colon cancer, heart disease or diabetes can help you and your doctor make informed decisions about how to protect yourself from these conditions. And if you have any concerns about your own health, talking to your doctor about your family history or health related changes is a great way to get started.
Why Does It Matter?
Possessing an awareness of what diseases run in your family can influence your behavior as well as potentially impact your need to be screened for certain diseases at an earlier age. With a strong prevalence of Diabetes and/or Heart Disease in your family, you may choose to be more mindful of your diet and encouraged to ensure physical activity is a part of your everyday living. Similarly, if there is a strong prevalence of Breast, Ovarian, Uterine or Colon Cancer for example, you may require genetic testing or more frequent screening earlier than the recommended age for the average population.
What should be included in a Family History?
To assess your family history, you will need to do so for both sides of your family. According to the CDC, you should collect information for the last three generations, inclusive of parents, grandparents, siblings, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins. Upon doing so, make note of any cancers, Diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, dementia, pregnancy complications and strokes. Also, be sure to include conditions such as alcoholism and drug addiction.
But knowing your family health history is just one part of taking care of yourself. Another important step is scheduling preventive health screenings. These appointments and exams can help catch problems early, when they’re most treatable. So if you haven’t had a preventive health screening in a while, make an appointment today. It could be the best decision you ever make for your health.
Preventive Health Screenings
The following are a few examples of important screenings that every woman should receive. Be sure to speak with your physician about what age you should start each of these screenings and how regularly you should schedule them.
- Pap Smear
- Bone Density Test
- Cholesterol and Lipid Screening
- Blood Pressure
This Women’s History Month, let’s make a commitment to ourselves to get to know our history and take care of our health. It’s the best way to honor the women who have come before us, and ensure that we’re around for years to come.