Women's health

Do you know the top women's health risks? If you worry excessively about breast or ovarian cancer, your anxiety might be misplaced. Statistically, heart disease might be a more significant health risk for women. Thankfully, healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way toward reducing women's health risks.

For some women, breast health tops the list of women's health concerns. What's the best way to do a breast self-exam? What should you do if you find a breast lump? What's the best way to treat breast pain?

For others, women's health concerns include cosmetic surgery. And as you get older, your women's health concerns are likely to change. Could belly fat lead to health problems? Are Kegel exercises really necessary? Get answers to these and other women's health questions.

Breast health

Breast health begins with breast awareness, or a sense of what's normal for your breasts. To promote breast health, consider doing regular breast self-exams. With practice, you'll discover how your breasts vary in sensitivity and texture at different times during your menstrual cycle.

For many women, breast health includes concerns about breast lumps, breast pain or nipple discharge. Know what's normal — and when to consult your doctor. It's also important to understand common screening and diagnostic tests for breast health, such as clinical breast exams, mammograms and breast ultrasounds.

If you're thinking about breast augmentation or breast reduction, understand the surgical process — including who's a candidate for surgery, what to expect from the procedure and possible complications.

Women's life stages

Women's life stages are based on the reproductive cycle, beginning with menstruation and ending with menopause.

To understand women's life stages, start with the biology. Every month an egg is released from the ovary during ovulation. It travels down the fallopian tube, where it might be fertilized by a sperm. If fertilized, it implants in the lining of the uterus. If not, the egg and lining are shed during menstruation. This continues until perimenopause — the time when a woman's body begins the natural transition to menopause.

Women's life stages are often marked by specific signs and symptoms, such as menstrual cramps, mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain. Understand how healthy lifestyle choices can help you feel your best at any stage — and know when to ask your doctor for additional suggestions.

Apr. 04, 2014