Empowering Women’s Wellness with Women’s History Month

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May 16, 2022

National Women’s Health Week kicks off May 8-12 and it’s also a great time for family, friends, and communities to support women and help them achieve to live life to the fullest, all in good health. 

Take “Motorcycle Mama” of Dayton, Nev. as an influential example. Velma Thornburgh recently celebrated her 102nd birthday riding a motorcycle fearlessly; it has been her birthday tradition since her childhood. Many decades were spent riding horses and bikes well into her 80s, but this year she didn’t want to miss out on one more motorcycle ride down U.S. 50. 

On average, women in 2022 have a life expectancy of 82 years, while men have 78 years, according to the CIA World Factbook. Life expectancy for residents of Nevada is 78 years old, making it the 32nd state in terms of highest life expectancy, according to 2022 state statistics from the World Population Review. Both at an individual and population level, life expectancy is likely linked to economic factors; lower-income Americans are less able to afford adequate health care or a range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle.

Women experience unique health care challenges and are more likely to be diagnosed with certain diseases than men, so it’s important to educate women on the steps they need to take to improve and maintain their health. Here are ways you can empower and enlighten yourself, and the women in your life, to make their health top priority. 

 Honoring Startups in Women’s Health

For centuries, women have paved the way in launching health programs and establishing (or something similar) nutrition security for families in underserved communities. It wasn’t until 1908 that children in Boston started eating hot lunches in schools, thanks to the women in health organizations who cooked and served the meals. In fact, women are the most influential healthcare consumers as they control most of the decisions in the household, on top of spending much more on healthcare compared to men.

Startups focusing on women’s health are often underfunded but statistics are showing positive changes. According to Rock Health, U.S. digital health startups serving women raised $1.3 billion through August 2021, doubling the initial $774 million funding in 2020 from venture capital investments.

With this good news, there’s a bigger push for more funding in women’s health-oriented startups. One women-led health fund called SteelSky Ventures recently announced the world’s largest fund in women’s healthcare—$72 million dollars—to 13 major healthcare companies, including the American Hospital Association. The fund is already being invested into sectors such as medical technology, consumer health, digital health, e-pharmacy and retail therapeutics.

One of the most significant barriers in women’s health today is gender-bias, especially among some providers dismissing women’s health concerns as less severe than men’s health concerns. This is known as medical gaslighting; medical journals have found that diagnostic errors are caused by the physician’s lack of knowledge.

That’s why it’s so important for women to have a foundational knowledge of how their body is operating and to follow proven health trends as they could improve overall (or similar) quality of life. Take Serena Williams’ eating habits for example; she cooks her own meals at home, balances plants and proteins into her diet, drinks water on a regular basis, and still treats herself to some of her favorite desserts, on top of her athletics. Check out this extensive list of more 2022 health trends recommended for women. 

The 7 most important nutrients women need: 

  • Iron
  • Vitamins B, D, and E
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids 
  • Magnesium

Recognize common health risks

Certain health concerns are unique to women, but the most common ones can occur at any age. Understanding your distinctive health needs is an important key to preventing disease, staying well, and thriving. For example, committing to a healthy lifestyle can prevent gestational diabetes during pregnancy. 

Here are the top health concerns unique to women:

  • Mental health issues
  • Urinary tract health
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI)
  • Heart disease
  • Alcohol abuse 
  • Stress
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis 

Another important issue is the stigma and politicization of women’s reproductive issues. In Nevada, the statute says a woman’s right to get an abortion in Nevada ‘was submitted to and approved by referendum at the 1990 general election and therefore is not subject to legislative amendment or repeal.’

There are ways to overcome these barriers. Make sure to schedule regular visits with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN. Find a physician for checkups and screenings, or anytime that you suspect something may be off with your body. You can also check out community health clinics in your area; Nevada Health Centers compiled a list of services offered throughout the state.

The future of women’s health in Nevada 

In a 2020 report from the Patient Protection Commission to legislators, Nevada ranks 49 for primary care doctors, per capita, 48 for nurses, and 50 for surgeons and psychiatrists. 

But with new opportunities arising, it’s likely those statistics will shift. 

North Las Vegas is planning a $5 billion medical hub across 135 acres, breaking ground in 2024. As the third largest city in the state (by population), North Las Vegas will greatly benefit from this new hospital as many residents in the area currently have to go outside of city limits to receive medical care. 

To further help the battle with the ongoing mental health crisis, Western Governors University is launching a mental health practitioner program. These pathways will be extremely beneficial in Nevada, where the need for mental healthcare providers is among the highest in the nation. According to a report by Mental Health America, Nevada ranks 47th in access to mental healthcare.

Putting your health as top priority can prevent or minimize many of the common health issues that women experience. For National Women’s Health Week, optimize your health by getting exercising regularly, follow a well-balanced diet, maintain healthy interpersonal connections, and live life to the fullest like Nevada’s Motorcycle Mama.