Taking the Time to Take Care of Yourself: Celebrating and Supporting Women's Health in May

2 of every 3 Alheimer's patients are women, depression is twice as common in women than men, and 1 of every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Women are also more likely to put the health of others—usually family and friends—before their own health. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, "2 out of every 3 caregivers in the United States are women…[and] caregivers have a greater risk for poor physical and mental health."

According to one Ipsos poll, while 80% of the women surveyed recognized the importance of self-care to their overall health, that same survey revealed that approximately one-third of those women spent only 30 minutes or less each day engaging in self-care activities. "In contrast," the study continues, "a full 76% of American women spend up to 10 hours daily caring for partners, husbands and/or children—and one in five (19%) women spend more than 10 hours a day caring for others."

Happy Smiling WomanMay is Women's Health Month. It's a time to raise awareness about women's health and to empower women to make informed decisions about their health while also taking steps to improve their overall well-being. "Women have health needs and concerns separate—although at times similar—to men," says Dr. Dorene Dempster, OB-GYN at the Door County Medical Center (DCMC) Women's Center. "But, as caregivers," she continues, "women often forget to take care of themselves. Instead, we are busy taking care of our children, our spouses, and/or our aging parents. Women's Health Month exists to help remind women to simply take care of their own health."

What can women do to prioritize their health?

In honor of Women's Health Month, Door County Medical Center has put together a list of recommendations that focus on 3 often-neglected areas of life.

Enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet

Understanding the fundamentals of nutritious eating is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are some guidelines to foster healthier eating habits:

  • Healthy mealIncorporate a well-balanced eating plan—That includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. For those with lactose intolerance, lactose-free versions or fortified soy beverages and yogurts can be suitable alternatives. Additionally, strive to minimize salt, saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars in your diet.

  • If there's a possibility of pregnancy—It is recommended to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. This practice before and during pregnancy helps reduce the risk of significant birth defects affecting the brain or spine.

  • Limit alcohol intake—Excessive alcohol consumption can have immediate adverse effects and increase the chances of various health conditions. If you choose to drink, it is advisable to do so moderately, which means up to one drink per day for women.

Get active and stay active

Women doing yogaHeart disease is the primary cause of mortality in women, so take advantage of the pleasant spring and summer weather by engaging in outdoor activities. Physical activity holds immense importance for your overall health and wellbeing, and offers numerous benefits, which include: a stronger heart, improved circulation, reduced stress, and weight loss. For the best results, the American Heart Association recommends:

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 5 days a week, or
  • 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic aerobic exercise 3 days a week, and
  • Moderate- to high-intensity strength training 2 days a week

As they get older, women are more likely to fall than men. To reduce falls, the CDC recommends balance training, as well as strength training activities that include all major muscle groups at least twice a week.

Prioritize your mental wellbeing

Woman taking a break listening to musicNurturing both your mind and body is essential for maintaining good health, and numerous studies indicate that fostering positive mental health is closely linked to overall well-being. To ensure you receive the necessary support in managing stress and enhancing your overall state of being, consider taking these steps:

  • Take a moment for yourself—Inhale deeply and allow yourself to unwind. Even a mere five minutes dedicated to self-care can make a meaningful difference.

  • Make meaningful connections—Reach out to loved ones, friends, and family members to strengthen your social bonds.

  • Stay active and prioritize physical movement—As noted above, physical health is important to overall health, including mental health. Engage in activities like taking a walk, stretching your body, or participating in exercise routines.

  • Take time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy—Taking a moment to unwind and savor your favorite activities and pastimes; hobbies have been shown to increase personal fulfillment and creativity while reducing stress.

It is essential for women to recognize the importance of self-care and prioritize their own health. Neglecting personal well-being can lead to negative consequences, such as increased stress, burnout, and a decline in overall health. Engaging in self-care activities, seeking regular healthcare check-ups, and establishing boundaries are crucial for maintaining optimal health and being able to continue providing care and support to others effectively.

The Women's Health Center at DCMC

Dorene Dempster
Dorene Dempster, MD

"A woman's health needs change as she goes through the circle of life, from childhood to puberty, to the childbearing years, middle age, menopause and the older years," explains Dr. Dempster, adding, "Each stage has concerns and topics related to the stage—contraception and preconception counseling, and menopausal concerns as examples. Our providers are skilled at understanding these changes which are unique to female anatomy."

The Women's Health Center at Door County Medical Center (DCMC) offers comprehensive and accessible healthcare services for women in Door County and Kewaunee County. Located in DCMC's Sturgeon Bay campus, the Women's Health Center provides a wide range of OB-GYN services, including diagnostic imaging, birthing support, and massage therapy. With a focus on women's health, the center aims to deliver holistic care and address the unique needs of women in the local community.

State-of-the-art diagnostic imaging

Located within the Women's Health Center, DCMC's diagnostic imaging department services include: mammography (digital, including screening, diagnostic, needle localizations with mammography guidance), bone density testing and stereotactic breast biopsies.

3D mammographyIn particular, DCMC is proud to offer 3D mammography, an advanced imaging technology used for breast cancer screening, which enhances the traditional 2D mammogram by capturing multiple X-ray images of the breast from different angles. These images are then reconstructed into a 3D view, allowing radiologists to examine breast tissue layer by layer. 3D mammography improves accuracy in detecting breast abnormalities, reduces false positives, and provides clearer visualization, especially for women with dense breast tissue. Additionally, it enhances early detection of breast cancer, leading to better diagnosis, treatment, and improved outcomes for women.

Robotic surgery at the Women's Health Center

Dr. Elizabeth Gaida with da Vinci robotUnique among the majority of rural hospitals in America, Door County Medical Center, and the Women's Health Center, offers patients the option of undergoing minimally invasive surgical procedures with the da Vinci Xi surgical robot. "It's the latest and greatest technology," says Dr. Beth Gaida, OB-GYN at DCMC, "and one of the reasons I came up to Door County and started to practice at DCMC—I wanted to continue a skillset that I learned in the military."

Minimally invasive robotic surgery allows surgeons to perform complex procedures with enhanced dexterity and visualization, improving surgical outcomes and patient experience. The benefits of robotic surgery over traditional surgical techniques include: increased precision, smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery, and less postoperative pain.

Available minimally invasive gynecological procedures include:

  • Hysterectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. Depending on the reason for the hysterectomy, a surgeon may choose to remove only part of the cervix or all of the uterus, cervix, ovaries and ovarian tubes.

  • Endometriosis resection: this procedure can both diagnose and treat endometriosis, a chronic condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, leading to pain and potential fertility issues.

  • Ovarian cystectomy: An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on or within the ovary, often causing pelvic pain and discomfort. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a few small incisions, insert the robotic arms, locate the cysts and remove them from the ovaries.

"At DCMC we do everything related to women's health," says Dr. Gaida, "We treat women of all ages—from children and adolescents all the way through to menopause," she continues, adding, "We follow women through pregnancy, through wellness exams—we do it all."

To learn more about the Women's Health Center at Door County Medical Center, go here: To schedule an appointment, call: (920) 746-3666.

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