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posted on May 12, 2010 09:12

Celebrate Women’s Health Week: Take a Moment for Yourself!

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has proclaimed May 9-15 as Women’s Health Week, providing an opportune time for women to set aside their busy schedules, taking a moment to pay attention to their own health.
Too often, women are the caretakers—of children, husbands, family and friends. They place their own well-being on the back burner as they concentrate on helping others. But research shows that when women take care of themselves, the health of their family improves, contributing to the overall health of the nation.  This week is a good time for women to take a break and do a health ‘inventory’ for both themselves and their family. This includes:
ü       Each year, more than 300 Idaho women die from breast, colorectal or cervical cancers, all of which have screenings that can detect these cancers before they become serious. Idaho ranks low among states for many recommended cancer screenings. Clinical breast exams are recommended for women in their 20s and 30s every three years, and every year for women over the age of 40. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40, while recommended colorectal cancer screenings should begin at age 50. Pap tests for cervical cancer should begin either at age 21 or within 3 years of initiating sexual intercourse, which ever occurs first, and continue every 2-3 years, depending on your age or health care provider recommendations.  Check out the interactive screening chart, then call your healthcare provider and make an appointment for screenings today!

ü       For low-income women without health insurance coverage, there are free mammography and pap tests for women 40-64 years of age through the Idaho Women’s Health Check program. Last year, over 4,000 women were screened in the program, with 120 women diagnosed with breast, cervical or pre-cervical cancers. Click here for a link to Women’s Health Check Enrollment Centers, or call the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1.
ü       Family Planning services are available through the Idaho public health districts. At these clinics, women can receive medical exams including pelvic exams or Pap test screening for cervical cancer, contraceptive education, counseling and birth control supplies.  Important preventive health measures such as blood pressure screening and screening for anemia, diabetes, basic fertility and sexually transmitted diseases also are performed. For a list of reproductive health clinics, contact your local public health district or the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1.
ü       Physical activity and nutrition play an important role in keeping moms and women who are on the go healthy. Schedule 2-3 hours of moderate physical activity a week, eat more fruits and veggies, and pay attention to your weight. Obesity can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, which is the second leading cause of death for Idaho women.

ü       Pay attention to your mental health. This includes getting enough sleep and managing the stress in your life.

ü       If you are a smoker, take a moment to recognize the impact this risky behavior can have on your health and that of your family. There are resources to help you quit, including Idaho Quitnet and Quitline (1-800-Quit-Now).
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