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Women-Specific Primary Care Leads to Better Outcomes
Over the past several years, women’s health has become a more prevalent focus in the news, on social media, and among physicians. For decades, women-specific healthcare has lacked the research and attention it deserves, so it’s exciting to see it finally come to the forefront.
All too often, “women’s health” is reduced to gynecological care and breast health – so-called “bikini medicine.” While these are certainly an important part of a woman’s health plan, it is not all-encompassing of the women-specific health issues and treatments that should be part of primary care. Women face unique and complex health issues, such as perimenopause, menopause, hormone imbalance, weight and nutrition management, mental health, cardiovascular health, sexual health complications, breast cancer, and cancer survivorship, among others. Disease diagnosis and treatment by a specially trained women’s health provider can produce optimum results for patients, and there are several ways in today’s healthcare setting that women can receive the care they deserve.
Historically, a decentralized approach to healthcare was the most common option for women—usually consisting of a primary care physician for the basics, an OBGYN, as well as a number of specialists for more complex women’s health topics. While having different providers and specialists for various care needs is still a sufficient option for women’s health today, new models have emerged for women to consider. A women’s integrative health center can offer a more holistic approach to care that supports a woman’s wellness needs. Additionally, a single-source, concierge medicine model with a focus on women’s and gender-specific health can offer individuals an exceptional level of care.
Often, a provider who understands the differences between men’s and women’s health is a great choice for patients because the disparities in how men and women develop diseases and exhibit symptoms are numerous. Let’s explore this through the lens of cardiovascular health. Although heart disease is often thought to affect men primarily, it’s actually the number one killer of both men and women. Women, however, have different risk factors for heart disease, including precursor conditions unique to women, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis. Women also present with different symptoms of a heart condition, such as back, neck, and stomach pain that can often be overlooked, putting them more at risk for long-term issues. In addition, women respond to medication used to treat heart disease differently than men and should be prescribed accordingly. Specialists in gender-specific care can help prevent serious cardiovascular-related health issues in both men and women. When it comes to your health, the most important thing is to find a provider you feel comfortable talking to, who has the time to listen, and the expertise to properly treat you. Remember to advocate for yourself in whatever healthcare setting you choose, and never compromise on obtaining your best health possible.
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