A woman's body constantly changes as she deals with hormones, giving birth and the natural aging process. When put in the right perspective and approached in a proactive manner, women can embrace and deal with these changes.
Knowledge is the first step to overcoming life's challenges, so here are four surprising things that could happen to women of which you should be aware.
1. Urinary incontinence
Women have more trouble controlling their bladders than men do throughout their lives. This stems from a number of causes, including giving birth, menopause and the natural weakening of bladder muscles over time. Talk to your doctor to come up with a treatment plan right for you. 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 like avoiding drinking liquids before bedtime or limiting caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Eating a healthy diet and, if necessary, losing weight help prevent obesity and diabetes, both of which 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. Her hips widen, and her breasts develop. While those changes are not surprising, what may be unexpected is that women's bodies continue to change after puberty.
For example, when growing a baby, hips spread even wider to support the weight of pregnancy. Breasts also enlarge throughout pregnancy and, after producing milk, they can fluctuate in size throughout the childbearing years and beyond. In fact, a Journal of Orthopaedic Research study found evidence that a woman’s pelvis continues to widen between ages 20 and 79.
The good news about each of these body changes is that women can move through them positively, with the help of a healthy diet, exercise, stress avoidance and regular visits to a medical provider that specializes in women's health, such as TriHealth.
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 leads to rounding of the shoulders and upper spine. Women are thought to lose about 1 to 3 inches in their lifetimes, the study found.
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.
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 “… ensuring that women maintain optimal oral health during pregnancy may have a beneficial impact on their personal health, as well as that of their offspring,” the researchers write.
Women's health care
No matter a woman's age or stage of life, she can take care of herself by learning about issues unique to women's health. For information about comprehensive women's health care during puberty, pregnancy, menopause and beyond, visit trihealth.com.