Women's Health

Women’s health refers to the branch of medicine that focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of diseases and conditions that affect a woman’s physical and emotional well-being.

Health is an important factor that contributes to human wellbeing and economic growth.

Currently, women in India has to face numerous health issues, which ultimately affect the aggregate economy’s output. Addressing the gender, class or ethnic disparities that exist in healthcare and improving the health outcomes can contribute to economic gain through the creation of quality human capital and increased levels of savings and investment.

IEC Material on Women's Health

Methods of birth control:

Continuous abstinence

This means not having sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) at any time. It is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

Barrier method:

Female condom

This condom is worn by the woman inside her vagina. It keeps sperm from getting into her body. It is made of thin, flexible, manmade rubber and is packaged with a lubricant. It can be inserted up to 8 hours before having sex. One should use a new condom each time they have intercourse. One should not use both female and a male condom at the same time.

Male condom

Male condoms are a thin sheath placed over an erect penis to keep sperm from entering a woman's body. Condoms can be made of latex, polyurethane, or "natural/lambskin". The natural kind do not protect against STIs. Condoms work best when used with a vaginal spermicide, which kills the sperm. And one need to use a new condom with each sex act.

Condoms are either:

• Lubricated, which can make sexual intercourse more comfortable

• Non-lubricated, which can also be used for oral sex. It is best to add lubrication to non-lubricated condoms if you use them for vaginal or anal sex.  Person can buy them at the drug store. Oil-based lubricants like massage oils, baby oil, lotions, or petroleum jelly will weaken the condom, causing it to tear or break.

Department of Family Welfare has been procuring condoms with effect from 1994-95. Under the free distribution scheme, condoms under brand name 'Nirodh' are made available to acceptors free of charge through Primary Health Centers and subcenters in rural areas and through hospitals, dispensaries, MCH centers and post-mortem 

Hormonal methods

Oral contraceptives — combined pill ("The pill")

The pill contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. It is taken daily to keep the ovaries from releasing an egg. The pill also causes changes in the lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus to keep the sperm from joining the egg.

Some women prefer the "extended cycle" pills. These have 12 weeks of pills that contain hormones (active) and 1 week of pills that don't contain hormones (inactive). While taking extended cycle pills, women only have their period three to four times a year. Many types of oral contraceptives are available in the market like I pill etc.

In addition, the scheme of oral pills was launched in 1987 with the brand name Mala D by government of India.

Abortion

There are two types of abortion- medical abortion or surgical abortion. 

 Medical abortion is a type of  non-surgical abortion in which drugs are used to induce abortion. An oral preparation for medical abortion is commonly referred as an abortion pill. It is safe and effective. Should be taken after consent of medical professional.

 Surgical abortion is upto 15 weeks gestation, vacuum aspiration are most common surgical methods of induced abortion. 

Sterilization

The Government issued directions requiring the doctors to obtain written consent of both husband and wife for sterilization of either.  The State Governments have also laid down rules and policy guidelines requiring the doctor to strictly asses the eligibility of the applicant in terms of age, number of living children, martial status and similar other criteria. No person is to be sterilized unless she/he has attained the age of 35 years, is married and the consent of both the partners has been obtained for such operation.

What are the common issues faced by women?

Women in India face issues like malnutrition, lack of maternal health, diseases like AIDS , breast cancer, domestic violence and many more.

Malnutrition

Nutrition plays a major role in and individual’s overall health, psychological and physical health status is often dramatically impacted by the presence of malnutrition. 

India has one of the highest rates of malnourished women among developing countries. A 2012 study by Tarozzi have found the nutritional intake of early adolescents to be approximately equal. However, it is seen that the rate of malnutrition increases for women as they enter adulthood

Maternal malnutrition has been associated with an increased risk of maternal mortality and also child birth defects. Addressing the issues of malnutrition would have a beneficial outcomes for women and children.

Lack of maternal health

The lack of maternal health contributes to the economic disparities of mothers and their children.

Poor maternal health not only affects a child’s health in adverse ways but also decreases a woman’s ability to participate in economic activities. Therefore, national health programs such as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Family Welfare Program have been created to address the maternal health care needs of women across India. Although India has witnessed dramatic growth over the last two decades, maternal mortality still remains high as in comparison to many developing nations.

India contributes to nearly 20 percent of all maternal deaths worldwide between 1992 and 2006. The primary reasons for the high levels of maternal mortality are directly related to disparities of economic conditions and cultural constraints limiting access to care.

However, maternal mortality is not identical across all of India or even a particular state urban areas often have lower overall maternal mortality due to the availability of adequate medical resources. For those states where there is higher literacy and growth rates tend to have greater maternal health and also lower infant mortality.

Suicide

Suicide is a major problem in India. The suicide rate in India is five times higher than that of the developed world. Furthermore, the rate of suicide has been found to be higher in women as compared to men in India.

The most common reasons for women's suicide is directly related to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Gender discrimination
  • Domestic violence

The suicide rate is particularly high among female sex workers in India, who face numerous forms of discrimination for their gender and line of work.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a major issues in India. Domestic violence is defined as acts of physical, psychological, and sexual violence against women is found across the world and is currently viewed as a hidden epidemic by the World Health Organization.

As per reports of India National Family Health Survey III (2005-2006), 31 percent of all women reported having been the victims of physical violence in the last 12 months. However, the actual number of victims may be much higher. The study found that the poorest women faired worst among middle and high-income women.

How Indian women are being treated in the work environment?

Working and employment conditions are different for different sexes. Majority of women working are exposed to risks of infection, violence, musculoskeletal injuries and burn out. Women generally suffer discrimination and harassment more often then men, especially non-traditional occupations.

http://www.who.int/gender/other_health/Gender,HealthandWorklast.pdf

Gender empowerment for India: http://wcd.nic.in/publication/gdigemSummary%20Report/GDIGEMSummary.pdf

Medical tests for Women in 20's and 30's

  • Weighing weight: One should weigh regularly, as too much of it may puts you at high risk for developing a number of diseases later in life.
  • Blood Pressure. It's simple, it's cheap and it's quick.
  • Cholesterol Profile. One should also have a cholesterol test. Everyone age 20 and over should know their cholesterol numbers, and get them checked at least once every five years.
  • For Women Only: Breast Exam, Pelvic Exam and Pap. A clinical breast exam and 10 minutes of mild discomfort from the pelvic exam pays big dividends in protecting from cancer and diseases that can cause infertility. If you've had abnormal Paps in the past, be sure to get a new Pap smear as often as your doctor recommends. For those with no history of an abnormal Pap, a Pap smear can be done every three years, rather than annually.
  • Protecting Your Eyes. You may not have considered this, but at some point before you're 40, visit an eye care provider for an exam.
  • Checking Your Immunizations. Update any immunizations that you might need.

Medical tests for Women in 40's

  • Blood sugar: Decades of eating the wrong food (like coffee, hot dogs, fries can get the picture) plus weight gain (often due to hormonal changes) may have overworked the pancreas. At at age 45, be sure to get a fasting blood sugar test, and then again at least once every three years.
  • Breast exam and mammogram: One might be regularly checking breasts at home but still doctor should do an exam annually, but most experts recommend having a mammogram test done after age 40.
  • Blood pressure: Blood pressure may rise with the increasing age that's common. Fortunately, one can lower his/her blood pressure through diet, exercise, and medication.
  • Weighing one's weight: Taking care of weight is another factor as overweight can put one at high risk for developing a number of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
  • Pelvic exam and pap: A women should get this test done especially if she is sexually active. 
  • Looking for moles: Unusual moles or skin changes can leads to cancer but these are curable. if diagnosed at an early stage.
  • Protecting ones eyes: Having trouble reading or working at the computer? It's not unusual. After 40 make sure to get eyes examined regularly every two years until age 60  to check for common problems like presbyopia, glaucoma and many more.
  • Checking for regular immunizations: Ask your doctor if you need a tetanus booster shot, flu shot, or pneumonia vaccine.

External Links/References

 

  • PUBLISHED DATE : Apr 02, 2015
  • PUBLISHED BY : NHP CC DC
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : NHP Admin
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Nov 02, 2015

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