4 health issues that weigh on today's superwomen
March in the Philippines is a celebration of the everyday heroine.
Women are superheroes – masters at multi-tasking, excellent at their chosen craft, doted with superhuman emotional strength and physical endurance. Yet, superwomen as Filipino women are, we have our own brand of kryptonite, whose consequences, if left to aggravate, we cannot afford.
Below are the health problems women in the Philippines are most vulnerable to:
1. Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women around the globe, ranking fifth in the causes of cancer-related deaths. In the Philippines, breast cancer statistics amount to 16 per cent of all cancer cases, rising to 30 per cent of cancer diagnoses among women. Doctors estimate that 3 out of 100 women are likely to develop breast cancer during their lifetime - a result of increased life expectancy, urbanization and its consequent unhealthy lifestyle, and other external factors.
While there is no medically verified means to prevent breast cancer, it is fortunately acknowledged as one of the cancers with the highest survival rates. Its cure is dependent, however, on its very early detection, with mammography the only definitive means of confirming this, even with regular self-examinations. The result is that most cases of breast cancer in the Philippines are diagnosed only in its later, and often fatal stages.
2. Cervical Cancer
Second to breast cancer as a leading cause of death among Filipino women, about 7,000 Filipino women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, with those aged 15-44 especially at risk. Resulting from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that infects via sexual intercourse, having sex for the first time can be enough to catch the virus, while sleeping with a person who previously had sexual relations with multiple partners, augments the chance of being infected. Far from being directly linked to sexual promiscuity, women in committed relationships are also vulnerable in developing this cancer.
Fortunately, as opposed to breast cancer, the development in recent years of the HPV vaccine made most types of cervical cancer preventable. Following the logic that most women are bound to have sex at some point in their lives, the vaccine is ideally administered before a girl becomes sexually active, but the vaccine is also given to women until the age of 26 who have not previously been vaccinated.
3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
While gynecologists still cannot name a definitive cause for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS is nonetheless common among millennial women studying or working in a high-stress environment, in turn aggravating or triggering the return of its symptoms. Characterized by hormonal imbalances that cause ovarian follicles to look like cysts, these symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, intense dysmenorrhea, acne breakouts, weight gain, and difficulty in conceiving a child.
Without a permanent cure that ensures that symptoms do not return in periods of high stress, PCOS is nonetheless manageable – many gynecologists prescribe contraceptive pills as a means to balance hormones and regulate menses, while others encourage changes in diet and lifestyle. This condition however needs close monitoring, so regular consultations with a gynecologist, and sometimes an endocrinologist are a necessity.
4. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Due to the difference in structure of female and male urinary organs, women are more prone than men to suffering from urinary tract infection. At the very least, this means minor discomfort such as constant itchiness in the vaginal area; at its most serious this means a burning sensation while peeing, difficulty to urinate, or worse. No longer tied exclusively to hygiene (many clean freaks are as vulnerable to UTI as everyone else), lifestyle and the combination of a high-sugar/high-sodium diet with minimal water intake, are just as important causes of UTI as a person’s personal cleanliness.
To this end, doctor’s prescriptions range from a simple change in diet accompanied by the drinking of cranberry juice, to the taking of medication for a week or more, to a surgical procedure, the cost of which depends on the seriousness of the problem.
There is wisdom in the words "prevention is better than cure" but we in Maria Health want to be with you every step of the way - from prevention to cure to celebrating the good health of our superwomen.
This is why we partner with the country’s top healthcare providers to give you the healthcare plans that you need, at half the time it usually takes to get covered. Get covered now and enjoy a healthy women’s month!