Physical health is just as important as any other area of health, especially as a woman. Between the ages of 9-13, a young lady begins going through the stages of puberty. This involves, breast development, growth of hair, cycles/vaginal discharge, increase in height and possibly even weight. With puberty, hormones and pains also play a prevalent part in this period of a woman’s life. Once I got to middle school, where physical education classes became separated by gender, the discussion of women’s health began.
One of the first topics discussed is the growth of breast and learning about breast cancer. Although it may not seem to be something to worry about early on, it is extremely important to learn about it even at an early age. In middle and even high school, doctors and health teachers just tell us to do a monthly self-breast examination. Lumps in the breast or underarm area are not the only symptoms, they can start as “small” as just discomfort, swollen lymph nodes, changes in shape/size in the nipple or breast and in worst cases bloody discharge from the nipple and extreme skin irritation.
Even if it is a symptom that does not seem too alarming, the smart thing to do is to tell a doctor. There have been many times action could have been taken but warning signs were ignored. In other cases, these symptoms may not even be of breast cancer. There are also noncancerous breasts diseases and breast cysts. Every year, at least one person in my health classes had a family member or family friend diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew that it was something I needed to take seriously especially now as I am getting older.
Vaginal health is also significant when it comes to a woman’s health. Proper hygiene and gentle cleaning are key to keeping the vaginal area healthy. Taking vitamins that help maintain PH balance and drinking plenty of water can also improve vaginal health as well.
The beginning of a woman’s cycle can look different depending on the body and age. Some girls started in late elementary school and others in early or even late middle school. It is important to know that each month when a cycle comes on, there are times when it will be heavy and times when it will be light.
There have been times where I may not know it is coming and times where I have cramps or even nausea the days before and after the cycle is over. For me there have been times where I have had horrible pains from my cycle and very heavy bleeding. Menorrhagia is where bleeding is so heavy that you can’t participate in regular daily activities. Heavy bleeding can also be caused by uterine fibroids, which is very common in women as they get older. There are plenty of other diagnostics that can come about from heavy bleeding, so it is important to keep track of it.
Although it is a bit early for these things to begin to occur, the next 5-10 years are pivotal for us as we get older, finishing college, beginning our careers and even consider starting a family. Keeping up with your health is so important and it is always better to be overcautious than to know little information about what can go on in your body.