Next week, on 8th March, International Women’s Day takes place. Whilst this year’s theme is to Pledge for Parity, it also serves as a good reminder to take care of our health and encourages us to take steps to become ‘well women’ through getting checked out and educating ourselves on women’s health issues.
March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
It’s fitting that International Women’s Day falls in March, as the month also marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer poses a serious concern for women, with the UK having one of the worst survival rates in Europe. According to the campaign’s website , there are over 7,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year, with 4,300 deaths. The survival rate is so low because it is hard to diagnose, with diagnosis often happening after the cancer has spread.
This year’s campaign aims to help women understand the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, as it is reported that just 3% of women feel confident in identifying the symptoms. It’s important that women recognise that the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases as we get older, with 80% of cases diagnosed in those who have been through the menopause. The majority of cases are unconnected to family links, therefore women shouldn’t consider themselves to be at less risk if no other cases of ovarian cancer have been reported in the family before. Some of the symptoms associated with ovarian cancer include:
- Persistent bloating
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Feeling full or having difficulty eating
- Feeling the need to urinate more urgently
Whilst these symptoms can be associated with other conditions, it’s important that you get them checked out and ensure that your GP offers you a blood test.
Be breast aware and maintain regular checks
We know that breast cancer is the biggest cancer type in the UK, affecting almost 58,000 women each year. With statistics showing that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, it’s important that we take steps to perform those potentially lifesaving checks. Breast Cancer Care has comprehensive details of changes and conditions you should look out for, as well as what to do if you suspect breast cancer.
Regular checks can save lives, and it’s important to get into the habit of checking your breasts. If you’re not doing so already, make sure that you make March the month you start – put it in your diary and start becoming breast aware now.
Take responsibility for your sexual health
Sexual health is another important consideration for women, particularly as some STIs such as HPV, can lead to cervical cancer amongst other serious conditions. If you’re sexually active, you should be using contraception, especially if you have multiple partners. You should also use this post as a reminder to book your sexual health check and ensure that you’ve got a clean bill of health. Knowing that you’re STI free is a good confidence boost and can rule out any silent conditions you may not be aware of.
The NHS website has a great sexual health checker tool, which you should try out if you’re concerned about your sexual or reproductive health.
Whilst International Women’s Day is a time for celebration, it’s also a time to raise awareness and further improve women’s rights. Celebrate your womanhood and take steps to take care of your health by raising awareness of women’s health issues. If you’re at all concerned about your health, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. Early diagnosis is key for boosting the survival rates of many of our most common cancers and diseases.
Take a look at different International Women’s Day events happening near you soon.