Women’s Health: Empowering Women to Talk About Healthcare

05/10/24  8:15 AM PST

Every May, beginning on Mother’s Day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) leads National Women’s Health Week (NWHW). This year’s theme is dedicated to empowering women to take charge of their health journeys and shining a light on health issues unique to women.


Extensive research shows that women encounter more challenges than men when seeking healthcare services. They can have a tough time getting the health care services they need and deserve. You can read more about that here.

Many women report that doctors and other healthcare providers do not listen to or take them seriously, which can lead to delayed diagnosis or, in some cases, no diagnosis at all.

To prioritize their health, it is important for women to take care of their physical and mental health by eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and seeing a healthcare provider for regular check-ups.

Here are some tips to prepare for an appointment to make it successful:

  • Be open: It’s important to be honest with your healthcare provider about any symptoms or concerns you have. There should be no stigma or embarrassment when discussing your health. Being open, honest, and real about your symptoms, history, and lifestyle will help your healthcare team better understand your needs.
  • Write it down: Make a list of anything in your body that hurts, worries you, or is new or different than it was before. This will help you remember everything you want to discuss and ensure that you get the information you need.
  • Know your family history: Understanding your family’s health history can help your healthcare provider better know your risk for certain conditions. Take some time to research and write down your family’s health history before your appointment.
  • Follow-up: Do not be afraid to reach out to your healthcare team if your treatments haven’t worked, you are waiting for results, or you are waiting for a follow-up.
  • Second opinions: If you don’t believe you were taken seriously, or don’t agree with the answer you were given, seek a second opinion when possible.

By following these tips, you can make your appointments more productive and successful.


Why is it important?

For a long time, health studies didn’t include enough, or any, women and didn’t consider how medical conditions and treatments affect women compared to men. Although this gap in knowledge has improved in recent years, this data gap can affect how well healthcare providers understand and treat women’s health issues.

Here are some of the reasons why raising awareness of women’s unique health issues is so important:

  • Half of all women over 20 will experience some type of urinary incontinence in their life. Due to stigma, many women won’t report this to a healthcare provider. Some incontinence can be treated or eased with intervention. Read more here.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Blood pressure is often underdiagnosed in women, and fewer than one in four women with high blood pressure have their condition under control, highlighting the need for early and accurate diagnosis.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the US. About one in eight women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Thankfully, it is also one of the most treatable cancers when detected early.
  • Women are more likely than men to suffer from autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, making ongoing medical attention necessary.
  • Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men. Studies show that when women are in pain, they’re less likely to be given painkillers compared to men. This means their pain may not be managed as well.


Beyond these, there are so many other health conditions that women face, from mental health conditions to cancers. Each has its challenges, but understanding and support can make all the difference.


Start the conversation today. Together, we can make a difference.

You can learn more at https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw


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