Top 10 Health Priorities During Reproductive Years

Top 10 Health Priorities During Reproductive YearsThe years from 18 to 40 are sometimes referred to as the reproductive years because most pregnancies occur in women during these ages. Good habits-especially eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet and exercising regularly-can also help you avoid chronic, debilitating illnesses as you get older. If you are planning to become pregnant, you should get your body into the best condition possible to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you are not planning a pregnancy, following a healthy lifestyle will still help you feel better and look better. It is just as important to avoid harmful habits- including smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, or taking illegal drugs.


Based on the input from the American Medical Association, here is a list of your top 10 health priorities if you are between 18 and 40:






Quit smoking
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do for your health. Quitting substantially reduces your risk of lung cancer and other cancers (including cancers of the esophagus, mouth, pancreas, bladder, and cervix), heart disease and stroke.

Eat a healthy diet
The healthiest changes you can make in your diet are to reduce the amount of fat you eat and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and calcium- rich foods. Too much dietary fat can raise your cholesterol level and increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Calcium is essential for maintaining the strength and density of your bones. You should take in 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium each day . One 8-ounce glass of skim milk has 300 milligrams of calcium. For other good sources of calcium, click here.


Top 10 Health Priorities During Reproductive YearsExercise regularly
Regular physical activity exercise that is done on most days has many health benefits. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day and add 5 more minutes a week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day. Plan your exercise program to suit your interests and lifestyle. If you choose activities that you like, you're more likely to stick to it, which is most important. For example, gardening and dancing are great forms of exercise. Don't forget to count everyday chores and activities, such as climbing stairs, carrying bags, and washing the car.


Practice safer sex
It can happen to anyone. Women of every age and every socio-economic, educational, ethnic, and racial group get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) whether they have many sexual partners or one. Here are some steps you can take to help protect yourself from STDs:

  • Think twice before beginning sexual relations with a new partner. Limiting your sexual activity to only one partner who is having sex only with you reduces your exposure to disease- causing organisms.

  • When you have intercourse, use a male condom made of latex or polyurethane (not natural materials) or a female condom (which is made of polyurethane).

  • In addition to a condom, always use a spermicide, which provides additional protection against STDs. Some condoms are already lubricated with spermicide. You can also insert spermicidal gel or foam into your vagina for extra protection.

  • A female condom protects part of your external genitals as well as your vagina. Use a female condom if your partner will not use a male condom.

  • Have annual pap smears and tests for STDs.


Don't abuse alcohol or other drugs
Alcohol has a more potent effect on women than it does on men. Drinking the same amount of alcohol, a woman is affected more easily and more quickly than a man. Women experience the health effects of long-term, heavy drinking sooner than men do and they die sooner than from those effects. In part, this is because women are usually smaller and weigh less than men. But it is also because women's bodies metabolize, or process, alcohol more slowly than men's bodies. Women have lower levels than men of the stomach enzymes that neutralize alcohol before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, more alcohol goes directly into a woman's bloodstream, raising her blood-alcohol level more quickly than in a man. Women are more susceptible than men to liver damage form heavy drinking. Other alcohol-related health problems including high blood pressure, obesity, anemia, and malnutrition also affect women years earlier than men. Heavy drinking may increase a woman's risk of stroke.

Top 10 Health Priorities During Reproductive YearsExamine your breasts every month
There is not known way to prevent breast cancer. Your best hope is to detect a cancer at an early stage, when a cure is more likely. Most breast lumps are discovered by women themselves during regular, monthly breast self- examinations or by chance during bathing or dressing. Most lumps in the breast are not cancerous, but you should tell your doctor immediately about any lump you find.

Ask your doctor when you should start having regular mammograms. Most doctors recommend that women begin in their 40s. If you have a family history of breast cancer-especially in a close relative, such as your mother or sister-your doctor may recommend that you start having mammograms at a younger age. Even if you have regular mammograms, it is important to do a monthly examination of your breasts by feeling with your hand and looking in the mirror for any changes in their shape or contour.


Plan your pregnancies
Like any major event in your life, pregnancy requires planning. Prepare your body for pregnancy by establishing healthful habits-including eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly and eliminating unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking. If you have a family history of a genetic disorder or birth defects, or if you are adopted and don't know your family health history, counselor, who can help you evaluate your risk of having a child with a birth defect.


Protect your skin from the sun
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause changes in your skin that may lead to cancer . Sun exposure is especially dangerous if your skin is fair; light skin is more susceptible to cancer than darker skin. To protect your skin, avoid excessive exposure to the sun between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, when radiation from the sun is most intense. When you are in the sun, wear protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves, and use sunscreen. Most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen on exposed areas of your skin every day, especially if you have fair skin. Even in moderation any exposure to the sun is damaging to your skin. The sue of tanning beds is an increasing source of skin damage and aging. Doctors recommend that you never use them.



Top 10 Health Priorities During Reproductive YearsConsult your doctor regarding the need for different medical tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol, complete blood cell count, glucose, Bilirubin, calcium, etc.

Get a complete blood cell count measured regularly - including the red cells, white cells, and platelets, Red blood cells transport oxygen form the lungs to body tissues; white blood cells fight infection; platelets help blood to clot. This test can provide much helpful information. For example, a low level of red blood cells indicates anemia and an elevated level of white blood cells indicates the presence of infection.

Cholesterol level- A cholesterol test is a measurement of the level of the level of fats in your blood. A person's total cholesterol level is used as an indicator of his or her risk of heart disease. If your total cholesterol level is below 200, you are considered to be at low risk for heart disease. A total cholesterol level between 200 and 239 is considered borderline; you are at moderate risk of heart disease, depending on the presence of other risk factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease. A total cholesterol level above 239 is abnormal and indicates increased risk of heart disease.

Glucose level
A normal range is 70 to 110 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). A blood glucose test measures the level of the sugar glucose in your blood. Your body uses glucose for energy. Elevated levels of glucose in the blood can indicate diabetes . If your glucose level is found to be elevated, further testing is necessary to determine the cause.

Bilirubin range
A normal range is 0.1 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Bilirubin is an orange-yellow pigment in bile a liquid secreted by the liver to remove waste products and break down fats during digestion. An abnormal level of Bilirubin can indicate liver disease or obstruction of the bile duct (the tube that carries bile from the liver) that can result from a gallstone or a pancreatic tumor. The accumulation of Bilirubin in the skin gives it a yellow color, a condition called jaundice.

Calcium range
A normal range is 9 to 10.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth and teeth and for nerve and muscle function. A high level may indicate a late stage of some types of cancer or over activity of the parcium level in the blood. A low level may indicate poor absorption of calcium by the intestines.

Learn to manage stress in your life
Many women face difficult challenges and responsibilities as working women, mothers, or care givers for aging parents. These roles may overlap or conflict, causing overwhelming stress that can affect their heath. Emotional stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased susceptibility to substance abuse and illness, and depression. Here are some things you can do to help reduce or mange the stress in your life:

  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly- A nutritious, well-balanced diet and exercise can keep your body fit and able to resist disease. Exercise is also an excellent way to elevate your mood.

  • Talk about it- Confide in someone you trust-a friend, relative, or member of the clergy. Sometimes just talking about your problems and concerns can help you put them into perspective and give you insights into deal with them.

  • Stay organized- Good organization can help you manage your time more efficiently, which can reduce much of the time-related stress in your life. For example, make a list of things you need to do and complete each task one at a time. Break large projects into smaller, easy to mange parts. Carry a datebook with you for keeping track of important appointments, projects, deadlines, and phone and fax numbers.

  • Ask for help- No one can do it all alone. Let family members, friends, or coworkers know that you feel overloaded and ask them for help with specific tasks. People often don't realize you need help until you ask for
    it. And they will be less demanding of your time if they are aware that you have little to spare.

  • Learn how to relax- Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing are quick and easy methods for calming your mind and body. Do them whenever you need a little stress reduction.

  • Get professional help if you need it- If you feel so over whelmed by your responsibilities that you are having difficulty functioning normally, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to recommend treatment or refer you to a qualified psychiatrist or other mental; health specialist.

If you abide by these health priorities you stand a better chance of survival than your counterparts.

Dated 01 July 2011


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