Do you ever feel like your body is constantly in flux? A woman's body often changes as she faces rising and falling hormones, pregnancy and childbirth, and the natural aging process – and these are changes that only women experience.
But it doesn’t have to be misery. Here are four unique things that can happen to women’s bodies during their lifetime.
1. Urinary incontinence
Women can have more trouble controlling their bladders than men do throughout their lives. This stems from several causes, including pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the natural weakening of bladder muscles over time.
If you’ve had trouble controlling your bladder, it’s best to talk to your doctor about a personalized treatment plan. As Dr. Steven D. Kleeman, director of Urogynecology at TriHealth puts it: “"If you are afraid of leakage when you walk, run, or even sneeze, then you need to seek help."
Your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam and may use diagnostic tools such as urodynamic testing, a urinalysis, or a bladder stress test to confirm urinary incontinence.
Depending on the source of your incontinence, treatment may include lifestyle changes such as avoiding drinking liquids before bedtime or limiting caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Eating a healthy diet and, if necessary, losing weight to help prevent obesity and diabetes. Obesity and diabetes are associated with a risk of urinary incontinence, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
2. Changing body shape
When a girl develops into a woman, changes happen to her body in preparation for having children. Hips widen and breasts develop – you’ve been there. While those changes are not surprising, what may be unexpected is that women's bodies continue to change after puberty.
For example, during pregnancy hips spread even wider to support the weight of the growing baby. In fact, a Journal of Orthopaedic Research study found evidence that a woman’s pelvis continues to widen between ages 20 and 79.
3. Loss of height
After about age 30, people start shrinking, and women shrink at a faster rate than men, according to a National Institute on Aging study. The loss of height can come from worsening posture and the onset of osteoporosis, which can lead to rounding of the shoulders and upper spine. Women are thought to lose about 1 to 3 inches in their lifetimes, the study found. That’s significant!
To prevent height loss, make a conscious effort to improve your posture with exercises like yoga, and speak with a health care provider to find out if a calcium supplement is right for you to prevent the onset of osteoporosis Osteoporosis is sometimes considered the “silent disease” because bone loss can happen without presenting any symptoms. It’s important to know your risk factors and get screened by your doctor.
4. Becoming more prone to gingivitis
Birth control and pregnancy hormones lead to a higher risk of developing gingivitis, according to research from the Women’s and Children’s Health Policy Center. The severity of gingivitis can increase throughout pregnancy and, if left untreated, women will likely have the gum disease after giving birth.
The solution is to fit in dentist visits during pregnancy, as well as regular doctor’s visits. Maintaining all aspects of health, including a healthy mouth, during pregnancy is a vital for a woman’s personal health and the health of her new baby.
Women's health care
No matter a woman's age or stage of life, it’s always good know what’s unique about women's health and bodies. For information about comprehensive women's health care during puberty, pregnancy, menopause and beyond, visit trihealth.com.