This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BalanceforBetter.

 

Why balance? Because balance and equality are interlinked, you cannot have one without the other.

 

In our society, equality for women has gradually improved. 1918 saw parliament allowing women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time, but there were constraints. Although it was fantastic progress, it was only for women who were householders and had an income or had graduated from university.

 

In 1928, further progress was made and the voting age was lowered to 21 for women, which was equal to the men’s age.

 

We are now over 100 years since that momentous change and further progress is needed. The press and news channels highlighted in 2018 the gender pay gap. On average, according to government data, men are paid 8% more per hour. Women are less likely to be employed in senior management roles and their progress within a company may have been halted by taking maternity leave. For true equality, what is expected of women needs to change. Take for example, the change announced in February 2019 by the British Army who will now allow women to apply for all roles within the Army, including the frontline infantry. But, with this new equality comes the responsibility to meet the same levels of physical ability. There will be no exceptions, the requirements for fitness will be exactly the same.

 

Just being a woman does not instantly make you superwoman, but we are incredible! How about being even more incredible? Equality has meant that women are now juggling more roles all at the same time – work, home life, including the health of our family.

 

What does balance mean for women? We must not forget that fundamentally we need to look after ourselves first, both mentally, emotionally and physically. We need to try and remain in ‘tip top’ condition and remain at the top of our game, it’s all about balance. After all, much hard work has gone into improving the equality for women and we need to make the most of this.

 

In relation to your health as a woman, key milestones that are important to remember:

 

Age 12-18 – HPV vaccine offered with the aim of reducing the risk of cervical cancer which is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35 in the UK. The NHS offers the vaccine between the ages of 12-18. At OSD Healthcare, if you are already older than 18, we are able to offer this vaccine up until the age of 45. Please be aware that if you are aged 15-45 you will require 3 doses for maximum protection.

 

24 years and 6 months – you should receive your first cervical smear invite as part of the National Cervical Screening. If all is well, these invites will continue every 3 years until you are 49. After turning 50, the invites will be spaced to 5 yearly intervals until the age of 64. For anyone who is concerned, there is the opportunity to have an additional smear test and this can be performed at OSD Healthcare.

 

Calling all women, we need to be breast aware! We need to perform self checks and get familiar with what our breasts feel like, how they look and recognise when they change. Our breasts change at different stages of our lives, but if anything feels new or unusual, or you have a strong family history of breast or other cancers, please discuss this with a Doctor.

 

Aged 50-71 – You are entitled to a mammogram every 3 years to check for breast cancer as this is the time when the risk of breast cancer is at its highest. Currently the UK is looking at whether the age for the first mammogram provided by the NHS should be lowered.

 

Now we need to mention hormones, should that read as, ‘the dreaded hormones’? I don’t believe so, but when they are balanced, everything feels so much better doesn’t it? The trouble is that women go through tricky transitional times: Who can forget the changes during the teenage years? During pregnancy, motherhood and then the menopause there are huge changes in the hormone levels. And, let’s also mention, the monthly menstruation cycle and how that can make us feel! There is no “One Size Fits All” solution to these challenges, everyone is an individual, some perhaps more complex than others! Women’s Health Care needs to be holistic, balanced and bespoke approach. Dr Finn Barton and Sarah Marsh are our dedicated GP and Women’s Health Physiotherapist who feel passionately about helping improve the lives of women during these tricky transitional times.

 

So, are you ready to feel that bit more balanced while making the most of the opportunities that our improved equality is giving us? On this International Women’s Day, if you have any worries, concerns or symptoms that you would like to discuss and have answers to, please do not hesitate to get in touch and allow us to help you. At OSD Healthcare we are here to help you at all stages of ‘womanhood’, we are here to be your partner for a healthy life.