Health Watch -- The Phases of Womanhood

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

As a woman passes through the phases of life, one of her most important relationships may be with her doctor.

One key to aging gracefully and in good health is preventive care, and doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say the way to be sure you get that care is by establishing a relationship with your primary care physician. This is especially important as a woman nears 50 and has to deal with health issues related to menopause and aging.

This is when women have to consider topics like the use of hormone-replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms. Some studies have shown that this treatment could raise the risk for breast cancer. Dr. Karen Bradshaw, a UT Southwestern gynecologist, says there's no one correct answer for every woman. Healthy women may do very well on this kind of therapy. You have to talk to your doctor and determine what's best for you.

Another issue to discuss with your doctor is heart disease. While many women worry about breast cancer, heart disease is actually the No. 1 killer for women. Women need to take steps to prevent heart disease, either through lifestyle changes or through medical intervention.

Dr. Bradshaw says there are two important things for women to do to protect their health as they age. They should get some kind of exercise every day, and they should get plenty of calcium. Post-menopausal women need at least 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day.


April 2004