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Talking About Women's Health

The Global Women's Health Index website leads with the statement, "When women suffer, so does everyone around them," and we couldn't say it better ourselves. Especially considering that, according to one Ipsos poll, "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."

Dr. Elizabeth GaidaMay 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. Dr. Elizabeth Gaida, OB-GYN at Door County Medical Center (DCMC) Women's Center says, "As caregivers, 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."

The findings of the 2024 Hologic Global Women's Health Index rank the United States as number 30 of 142 countries for women's overall health. This is below countries like Taiwan (#1), Kuwait (#2), Switzerland (#5) and China (#19); but above Iraq (#130), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (#140) and Afghanistan (#142).

According to the report, "Women's health around the world is in a state of emergency," and "To reignite progress in women's health, women's health advocates must engage broader coalitions of partners to ensure that women's health and safety are prioritized across movements."

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:

  • Incorporate a well-balanced eating plan
  • Limit alcohol intake

Get active and stay active. Heart disease is the primary cause of mortality in women, so take advantage of the pleasant spring and summer weather by engaging in outdoor activities. 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

Prioritize your mental wellbeing. Nurturing 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.
  • Make meaningful connections.
  • Stay active and prioritize physical movement.
  • Take time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy.

Woman talking to doctorIt 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.

Supporting the Women in your Life

Of course, this is all easier said than done. Many women face feelings of guilt for taking time to care for themselves when they have so much caring to do for others. "In our society, women are often viewed as the main caretakers of children, partners and aging parents. They feel like it's selfish to take time away from their responsibilities to care for themselves, even for just a few minutes a day," says Dr. Gaida. She adds, "Women and the people around them need to understand that in order for her to care for everyone, she needs to care for herself first. In other words, she needs to fill her own cup so that she can share with others."

So, how can we all help? Here are some tips:

  • Happy husband and wife huggingTalk to them about how they are feeling physically, and emotionally. Learn about how and if they are taking the time to care for themselves.

  • Remind the women in your life to get to bed on time, eat right, take time to exercise and connect with their friends.

  • When you see them taking time to care for themselves or make small changes for healthier living, encourage and support them.

  • Ask them how you can help ease the burden of some of their responsibilities so that they can take time for themselves.

  • Check in with them on a regular basis. Give them a safe place to vent, express their concerns and problem solve.

The Women's Health Center at DCMC

"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. Gaida, adding, "Each stage has concerns and topics related to the stage—contraception and preconception counseling, and menopausal concerns as examples. Our physicians are skilled at understanding these changes which are unique to female anatomy."

Door County Medical Center Women's CenterThe 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.

In 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

da Vinci Surgical 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. Gaida, "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: https://www.dcmedical.org/medical-services/womens-care. To schedule an appointment, call: (920) 746-3666.

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