Empowering Women, Cultivating Health: National Women's Health Week

Every year, Mother's Day marks the beginning of National Women's Health Week, aimed at encouraging women of all ages to focus on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The 2024 theme is "Empowering Women, Cultivating Health: Celebrating Voices, Wellness, and Resilience." Each day of the observance focuses on a different aspect of women's health, offering tips and strategies to encourage healthy practices, preventative care, and the sharing of health experiences with others.

Table of Contents

Empowering Women in Their Health Journey
Safe Sexual Health
Shining a Light on Maternal Mental Health
Talk About It - Reducing Women's Health Stigma
Understanding Care is There
Reproductive Health from Puberty to Menopause and Beyond
Women and Heart Health
Additional Resources

May 12: Empowering Women in Their Health Journey

Getting proper health care services can be frustrating. Some of the challenges and barriers they face include:

  • Delays in Diagnosis
  • Dismissed or Undertreated Pain
  • Incorrect Mental Health Diagnosis
  • Weight Stigma
  • Racial Bias

There are several approaches for women seeking to take control of their health. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women's Health (OWH) can help you learn how to do things like make yourself heard when you are at a health care appointment, or how to find information you can trust. Visit OWH to learn more, and download their "Your Health, Your Way" fact sheet to get started.

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May 13: Safe Sexual Health

You may think sexual health is all about avoiding diseases and preventing pregnancy, but there's a lot more to it. A complete sexual health plan includes your emotional, mental, and social concerns as well as physical concerns.

Visit OWH to find resources on everything from sexually transmitted infections to the many factors that go into consent and safety with your partner.

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May 14: Shining a Light on Maternal Mental Health

Many women experience mental health issues during pregnancy or after giving birth. Unfortunately, many are afraid to discuss their struggles with others for reasons such as:

  • Fear of being judged.
  • Lack of availability of routine screenings for mental health conditions during these times.
  • Difficulty accessing proper treatment.

Experiencing mental health challenges when you're pregnant or after giving birth does not mean you're a bad parent. Here are some things you can do to make sure you get the support you need:

  • Watch for signs like unusual anger or sadness, or extreme feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Take time to take care of yourself, whether it's a little time to yourself, or spending extra time with family and friends.
  • Join a support group.

If you feel something's wrong, ask for help from your healthcare provider, or contact the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-852-6262.

Learn more about maternal mental health

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May 15: Talk About It - Reducing Women's Health Stigma

For many, women's health topics --- things like reproductive health and menstruation, for example --- are difficult to talk about. But open, honest conversation is the best way to remove the stigma attached to the unique health challenges women face.

The OWH offers some great talking points about several of these issues, and has resources to guide women of all ages --- and their healthcare providers --- in having these important conversations.

May 16: Understanding Care is There

Effective health care involves much more than just going to the doctor when you are sick. It requires a regular routine of care which includes regular checkups, getting a good night's rest, eating a healthy diet, staying up-to-date on vaccinations, and getting recommended screenings that can catch potential problems before they become serious problems.

Find out more about the steps that go into a good health care routine.

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May 17: Reproductive Health from Puberty to Menopause and Beyond

There are many stages to a woman's reproductive health, beginning at puberty and running through menopause and beyond. These are times of tremendous change in the health and life of women, and they can be difficult to navigate without a strong understanding of what is happening, and why.

Healthy Living by Age is a resource offered by the OWH to help women understand and adapt to the various health needs they will face at each stage of their life.

For additional information specific to reproductive health, visit the OWH.

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May 18: Women and Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease, commonly referred to as heart disease, is the number one cause of death for women. Unfortunately, it can often be more difficult to recognize symptoms of a heart attack in women. While the most common heart attack symptoms in women include pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest, women are also more likely than men to have symptoms that do not involve chest pain. These include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, often dismissed as "heartburn"
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue

In addition to the risk factors commonly associated with heart health --- things like smoking, high blood pressure, age, race, and ethnicity --- there are additional risk factors considered unique to women, such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic stress
  • Hormones

Visit the OWH to learn more about these factors, how to recognize potential heart health issues, and what action you can take to prevent heart disease.

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Visit the following programs for more information on a variety of women's health topics: