Sigh, another blog … about women’s health. But, before you switch back to Facebook to scope out the latest selfies, consider this: When was the last time you had a real (and I mean downright honest) conversation about health with your friend, mom, daughter? Or – gasp – your doctor?
As a physician, I am often amazed by what women (and girls) don’t know about their bodies. Then again, I’m a primary care physician and there is plenty that I am still learning (like, say, everything that happened during my pregnancy and all that followed). And while my profession is medicine, women’s health is important to me as a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. During some of my own medical (mis)adventures as a patient, I learned that so many women have similar struggles and experiences. As I reflected on this, I was crushed that as a physician I was relatively clueless about what women (and even some friends) were really experiencing in their own lives. Why is this? Have we, as women, learned to hide from each other? Or have we become so busy that we no longer have the time or energy to really listen? I am not sure of the answer, but I know that I have a renewed sense of social and professional responsibility and commitment to women’s health. And fortunately, as a full-time faculty member at Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine I am afforded the unique opportunity to act on it.
Sometimes, even more surprising to me than not knowing our bodies, is what is held as truth. With social media and modern-day capabilities of instant communication, the propagation of misinformation seems more prevalent than ever before. “Why?”, you may ask. Well, medicine is a field that is constantly changing, improving. What was true 10 years ago, two years, or even six weeks ago may no longer be true or the best practice in medicine. This is a good thing, or we would still be bloodletting and without antibiotics. But with change, brings the need for staying current both as a consumer and a healthcare provider. There are thousands of research studies published every year. It is impossible for physicians to stay current with all the latest and greatest. And by now you are probably wondering, well if healthcare professionals are having difficulty keeping up, how do I know I’m getting the correct advice and guidance? Good question. For starters, find reliable resources that focus on up to date research and guidelines. In medicine this is known as “evidence-based medicine”. Use those buzz words, and I promise you’ll have your provider’s attention.
As a primary care physician, I welcome informed patients and am encouraged when people come to me with questions. After all, it is your health. Now, what this does not mean is that you googled fill-in-the-blank, read all of the personal cyber horror stories, and printed them to discuss at your next appointment. There are numerous of reliable resources available for free. I do not endorsing one over another and, in fact, I often use several. Which leads to another valid consideration, there are mountains of information to sift through. Yes there are, and I know you don’t have time for that. So, how do you get the need-to-know on women’s health in the ever-changing world of medicine? Hopefully, this blog will be a starting point. My goals are to candidly cover key topics related to women’s health monthly, pare it down into digestible pieces of information, and empower you to seek the evidence-based, pertinent medical information you need [and deserve] as a woman. And while every topic may not relate to you directly, chances are you have someone in your life that could benefit from your newfound knowledge (go ahead, bridge the generation gap).
And not just the need to know like heart disease, menopause, Pap smears, breast cancer, weight loss; but a little of the want to know, too. Yep, that’s right! We’re going to talk about it all with an occasional “Taboo” blog. Questions that maybe you have been dying to ask your doctor, but just couldn’t bring yourself to do it. “Is it normal when … ?” Think of it as a Carrie Bradshaw twist on Dr. Oz. Disclaimer: we will be covering topics important to women, including sexual health. Please do not be offended as these will be done in a professional manner, but feel free to blush and eagerly read in the privacy of your own cyber-home. And no, vagina is not a bad word.