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7 Health Concerns Women Shouldn't Ignore

Posted March 02, 2020 by Jessica D Clemons, MD

Health Concerns

From mother to wife, and from businesswoman to caretaker, women wear many hats on a daily basis. So, it’s understandable why many of us put off our own needs; there’s just not enough time in the day. However, when it comes to your health, it should always come first.

Maybe you’re too busy to stop and see a doctor, or you’re hoping a symptom will just go away on its own. But, if you’re not feeling your best, you can’t possibly perform at your best level.

The top health risks for women are heart disease, cancer and stroke. Summa Health offers 7 health symptoms you should never ignore and, in fact, you should act quickly if you experience them. It may just save your life.


1. Shortness of Breath

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Shortness of breath and fatigue can be easy to attribute to our busy schedules. But, if you’re experiencing shortness of breath during light activity and extreme fatigue, it’s important to be seen by a doctor. These are symptoms that should never be ignored as they could indicate cardiovascular or lung disease.

Heart attack symptoms in women include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, back/neck/jaw/stomach pain, nausea or lightheadedness and cold sweats. If you suspect a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.


2. Severe headache

Headaches and dizziness are also easy symptoms to ignore, especially since stress at home or work can cause your head to hurt from time to time. However, a sudden onset severe headache could be a sign of a stroke.

Other signs of stroke include sudden numbness in the face, arms or legs, sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, vision problems or trouble walking. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.


3. Bloating, pressure in the abdomen

For many women, experience bloating from certain foods or during periods is very common. However, if you’re experiencing persistent bloating that lasts more than a week, along with pain or pressure in your abdomen, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, and feeling full quickly after meals, it could be a sign of ovarian cancer.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms frequently and notice sudden changes in your body, it’s time to discuss these symptoms with a doctor.


4. Nipple discharge

Breast exams are an important part of screening for breast cancer, the most common cancer in women except for skin cancers. In addition to checking for lumps or changes in breast size or shape, look for nipple discharge. Discharge that is clear or bloody can be a sign of breast cancer.

If you spot any of these symptoms, don’t delay contacting your doctor.


5. Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Vaginal bleeding between periods or bleeding after menopause can be caused by several serious conditions, including cervical or uterine cancers. Bleeding after menopause is never normal. So, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to call your doctor right away.


6. Heavy or painful periods

If you’re consistently experiencing painful or very heavy periods that are out of the ordinary for you, it’s best to get evaluated by your doctor. These symptoms can signal a number of gynecological issues, such as uterine fibroids. They are the most common non-cancerous tumors in women.


7. Pain during sex

It can be normal to experience discomfort during intercourse on occasion, but extreme pain is something to investigate. One possible cause could be endometriosis, a painful disorder where tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus. It’s a condition that can lead to infertility. In addition to painful intercourse, endometriosis can cause pelvic pain, extremely painful periods and pain while going to the bathroom.

Pain during sex can also signal a number of other issues, from infection to hormone imbalances causing vaginal dryness. Talk to your doctor about what may be causing your pain.


Be your own health advocate with regular check-ups and pay attention to what your body is telling you. You know your body better than anyone and if something just doesn’t feel right or you can’t explain a nagging symptom, contact your doctor. Remember, seeking care early gives you a better chance for the best possible outcome.

Our team of women's health experts can provide compassionate, thorough care of your unique health concerns throughout any stage of your life. To explore our healthcare services further, request an appointment online or call us at 234.867.7965

Jessica D Clemons, MD

Jessica D Clemons, MD

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