Women, TOUGH Is Your Middle Name
All human beings will have to go through the different stages of life. The only difference is how we manage it. Time does not stay still for us, unfortunately. Having a positive mindset and keeping abreast of the health conditions and medical issues will not only leave you to age gracefully, but also enable you to embrace life fully as a TOUGH and empowered woman!
THE GROWING TEEN
Age Group: 13 to 19 years old
Biggest worry: The start of womanhood
What starts with “P” and causes a big hoo-haa? PUBERTY, as you may have guessed so.
During this stage of life, puberty brings a whole lot of issues for us females. These include physical changes, hormonal changes and of course the number one ‘confidant’ which will stay with us throughout our lives, menstruation.
Menstruation can be scary and confusing for many, especially for those who do not have the slightest idea of what is going on in their body or they do not have an older female in their life to teach and guide them about this huge change.
According to Dr Watt Wing Fong, Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Consultant, Raffles Women’s Centre, menstruation usually begins about 2 to 2 and a half years after a girl’s breasts begin to develop. And as we all know, periods can also cause cramps, which can be really frustrating and painful. All that bloated feeling and constant pains can be such a nuisance.
Remember our mums telling us to always drink hot beverages whenever we have our periods so as to relieve the pain? True enough, research has shown that drinking hot water is usually better for cramps, reason being that hot liquids increase blood flow to the skin and thus, may relax cramped muscles. We have also found a few remedies that might just do the trick against those nasty cramps.
1.Off the Counter Medication:
Treat menstrual cramping by taking an aspirin or another product containing acetaminophen. Over-the-counter selections like good old panadol will also provide relief from all the uncomfortable cramps
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
“Some women may benefit from omega 3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements. There is some evidence to suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3 fatty acids may help alleviate menstrual symptoms,” said Miss Sarah Sinaram, Senior Dietician, Raffles Internal Medicine Centre
Yoga stretching not only treats abdominal cramps, it also serves as a form of relaxation that can help ease other symptoms associated with your menstrual cycle.
Another tricky problem that comes along during this stage of life is facing the acne ‘war’. According to Dr Chris Foo, Specialist in Dermatology & Consultant and Managing Partner, Raffles Skin & Aesthetics Centre, acne is a skin problem that affects many teenagers.
The skin’s sebaceous glands which make an oily substance called sebum are stimulated by hormones to produce excess sebum. The excess sebum will clog pores and when mixed with bacteria which cause inflammation, pimples will develop,” said Dr Foo. So, how can we combat this ‘war’?
There are many medications available and off-the counter cleansers that may help to prevent the onslaught of acne. We will leave you with our number one tip to combat acne – Never, ever squeeze or pop pimples as they may leave you with scars and blemishes on your face!
THE CAREER WOMEN
Age Group: 21 to 39 years old
Biggest worry: Maintaining a good state of well-being
We are no longer the young or spunky teenagers after we hit the big 21. As we age, we realise that we may not necessarily be as fit as when we were in our teens. Thus, taking care of your health is of utmost importance. This is where health screening comes in. Yes, some of you may have this notion that it is best if you do not undergo any screening lest you receive news that you are afflicted with some serious conditions. However, we believe that prevention is always better than cure.
“Health screening allows us to be more proactive in matters of our physical wellbeing. It searches for the common ailments that afflict a given age and, is usually, coupled with a review time with a physician who can give person-specific advice that can empower us to make important lifestyle changes,” said Dr Emily Pwee, Resident Physician, Raffles HealthScreeners.
According to the Health Promotion Board, for individuals aged 18 years and above, it is best to screen for any signs of hypertension.
One will have to undergo a blood pressure measurement which usually occurs once every two years or more frequently depending on your doctor’s diagnosis.
With the fact that you are already stepping into the corporate world, health is an important factor to ensure that you are still fit and healthy in order to bring the bacon back home. Instead of finding out later in life, why not go for your health screening, get it over and done with and heave a sigh of relief knowing that you are in the pink bill of health.
During this period of time, with work commitments and tight schedules, stress is inevitable. Even so, we advise you to manage the stress instead of letting the stress take control over you. It’s all mind over matter. Simple things like reading your favourite novel can be stress-relieving. In essence, as long as you are in control of your stress levels, you will be living life in a much more positive way.
When we reach adulthood, the subject of family planning will come into mind as well. Each one of us would think of settling down, getting your own matrimonial home and of course, to nurture and raise beautiful children.
However, planning itself can take a toll on one’s well-being. Be sure to pace yourselves when it comes to carrying out these plans. Take note of how much funds you need, seek out advice to ensure that your plans in building your future home are smooth-sailing. Remember the golden phrase; good management brings about good results!
THE TOUGH LADY
Age Group: 40 to 59 years old
Biggest worry: Menopause
Back during a female’s teenage years, menstruation was like a dreadful occurrence. However, when she steps into this age group where she has become a mum, a career woman or even to a home maker, the fear of no longer being able to produce estrogen or have periods gets more rampant.
According to Dr Shamini Nair, Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology & Consultant, Raffles Women’s Centre, menopause is the point of time when a woman’s menstrual period has stopped for 12 consecutive months.
Essentially, this means that a woman can no longer get pregnant when she has gone through this phase.
“Menopause affects each woman differently. The average age when one starts menopause is 51, although there are some who may start as early as 40 or as late as 55,” said Dr Shamini.
“DID YOU KNOW? Menopause affects each woman differently. It is not always the case as to whether ageing or health issues are the causes for menopause.”
The common changes that one should take note are as follows:
Your periods may come more often or less as compared to before. However, do not assume that missing a couple of periods is due to menopause. It might be due to other causes such as fatigue or even pregnancy.
2. Vaginal and Urinary Problems
Depending on each woman, these problems may start or increase during this time period. The walls of your vagina may get drier and thinner due to the low levels of estrogen. According to Dr Siow Woei Yun, Specialist in Urology and Consultant, Raffles UroRenal Centre, as estrogen helps in protecting the health of your bladder and urethra, low levels of estrogen may induce frequent urination. This includes the constant urge to go to the ladies. Severe cases include involuntary urine leakage otherwise known as urinary incontinence.
3. Mood Changes
We all know about PMS (Pre-Menstrual syndrome). However, this gets more intense when we have menopause. You could experience mood swings, extreme fatigue, crying spasms and whatever that does not usually occur before you have menopause.
Although the symptoms that come with menopause seem challenging, there are ways where we can tackle them and still lead an enjoyable life. Dealing with menopause symptoms can be manageable.
The key pointers are getting enough sleep and staying physically active.
This will help you feel your best. Avoid taking on too many commitments. Should that be the case, look for positive ways to ease your stress; it could be as simple as taking a walk in the nearby park! Now, is that not manageable?
THE GOLDEN LADY
Age Group: 60 years old and above
Biggest worry: Ageing diseases
Changes in the body in the years around menopause increases one’s chances of having certain problems. Research has shown that lower levels of estrogen and other changes relating to ageing like weight gain, increase women’s risk of heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.
According to Dr Andrew Dutton, Specialist in Orthopaedic Surgery and Consultant, Raffles Orthopaedic Centre, this silent disease is more common in women than in men, because they have less bone mass to begin with due to drastic drop of estrogen once they reach menopause.
“An individual with osteoporosis is often unaware that she has the disease until she has had a broken bone, experiences low back pain or develops a hunched back. Risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, ageing, a small bone frame and low bone mass,” said Dr Dutton.
Those who have developed osteoporosis must learn to manage the disease with three important key points: nutrition, exercise and of course proper medication.
According to Singapore Heart Foundation, heart disease and stroke remains the NUMBER ONE killer of women in Singapore, yet few women are unaware of this fact. “Women need to know that they are as vulnerable as men, where cardiovascular disease is concerned.
Cardiovascular disease happens by the build-up of cholesterol on the inner walls of the arteries that restricts blood flow to the heart. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are common in women, thus early detection is possible and can be life-saving,” said Dr Teo Swee Guan, Specialist in Cardiology and Consultant, Raffles Heart Centre.
“DID YOU KNOW? According to Singapore Heart Foundation, heart disease and stroke remains the NUMBER ONE killer of women in Singapore, yet few women are unaware of this fact.”
Without adequate blood, the heart is devoid of oxygen and the vital nutrients needed for it to function properly.
Women often have different symptoms that may depict a possible heart disease or problem which includes the following:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest area
- Unusually rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or fatigue
Thus, in this stage of life, seeking treatment is definitely the key thing to do. Delaying of treatment is a definite no-no. By seeking treatment early and should any of the symptoms occur will definitely stave off most of the serious consequences that comes with such diseases. With that in mind, ageing gracefully will definitely be a breeze.
An Enjoyable and Stress-free Aging Journey
Being a woman is certainly no easy feat. Menstruation, childbirth, menopause and ageing gracefully are all but some of the peaks we have to face as we grow older. Nonetheless, the age old saying of ‘Keep Fit and Eat Well’ will most definitely have to be implanted into our mind. However, with a healthy lifestyle, resilience and proper health management, women can easily overcome all obstacles. Afterall, TOUGH is our middle name!