Illinois action blog

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Take steps to better health during National Women’s Health Week

National Women’s Health Week kicked off on Mother’s Day. Planned Parenthood of Illinois is helping women make their health a priority with caring and unbiased services at 17 health centers throughout the state.

Every woman a well-woman

Take control of your health this week! Start by making an appointment for a confidential well-woman exam. These checkups include screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), breast and cervical cancer, and an opportunity to get the birth control that’s right for you.

Well-woman visits are to prevent problems in the future, or to detect any issues so you can get treated right away. A health care provider will perform a pelvic exam, or gynecological exam, to be sure that your sexual and reproductive organs are ok.

Even me?

It’s important for all women - gay, straight, single, married, sexually active or not - to have gynecological care. How often you go and what tests a health care provider will perform depend on your needs and medical history.

Women should have their first pelvic exams when they are 21 years old, unless they have a medical issue that needs to be addressed earlier. It’s normal to be a little nervous about it, but there are ways to prepare for the trip that can make you feel better.

Even you!

Remember, this is really about getting you the care you need, so if you’re uncomfortable or have questions, speak up. Thinking about what STIs you might need to get tested for or your birth control options can help you make the most of your trip.

Everyone deserves quality, affordable health care. If you don’t have health insurance or have health insurance with a high deductible, you can still make an appointment. Planned Parenthood will work with you to make sure you get the care you need.

No matter what

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is also making it possible for women to get preventive services, such as cancer screenings, STI tests, and birth control without copays. The law takes full effect on Oct. 1, but is already helping people. Almost 2 million women in Illinois don’t have to worry about lifetime limits on health benefits anymore. That means insurance companies can’t stop paying for treatments for those facing cancer and other diseases.

Simple steps

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has some suggestions for other ways you can start leading a healthier life this week.

Get active to lower your risk of illness, and increase physical and mental functions.

Eat healthy to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

• Take care of your mental health by dealing with stress and getting plenty of sleep.

• Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as texting while driving, or smoking.

Put it on your calendar!

Schedule a well-woman visit, and test your knowledge of women’s health. It’s confidential, respectful and all about you.

This post was created by Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL). PPIL provides comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and education to more than 60,000 Illinoisans each year. Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of PPIL.

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