We trust medical professionals to know what's best for us and we often assume that whatever they say is best, and we tend to follow their advice blindly. Most of the time, medical professionals know best - after all, they ARE the professionals. However, it is SO important to take your health into your own hands and not be passive when it comes to your well-being and making decisions for your own body. Women face a lot of unique health issues, and if we leave our healthcare entirely in the hands of someone else, we risk missing signs that something is wrong or on chances to improve our health.
Many people feel powerless when it comes to their health, as though anything that does or doesn't happen to them is predetermined or out of their control, but that often isn't true. The more you know about your body and the ability you have to make choices for your health, the more likely you are notice something is wrong and take action to help yourself. It's not always about knowing when something is wrong, either: it's critical that you are prepared and protected in the event of a major accident or illness. So, now that you know how important it is to acknowledge the agency you have in your health, here are fifteen ways to use your power!
15 When You Aren't Taken Seriously
If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Not only is it your right, it's your responsibility to speak up when you know something isn't normal when it comes to your health and your health care. If you feel as though a medical professional has handled your case unprofessionally or unethically, you're allowed to request different help. This is the same if you feel as though they aren't taking you seriously. If you feel as though your healthcare concerns aren't being properly acknowledged or looked into, you should also speak up about this to ensure you're being taken seriously. It is your health after all, and like many people will tell you, always ask or get a second opinion. Because if voicing your concerns to your current healthcare providers doesn't work, it is important to find providers who will listen and take action.
14 Getting Insurance
Less than half of individuals under the age of 26 who were eligible to enrol in their employer-provided healthcare plan in 2015 took advantage of it, and that means there are a lot of uninsured young people out there who are basically taking a risk on their health. When we're young, it's easy to feel like we'll be young and healthy forever, we tend to feel somewhat invincible. All too often this delusion gets the best of us and we end up in a situation where we're sick or injured but can't afford the proper care we need without insurance. If you get insurance before anything goes wrong, you'll be thanking your lucky stars you have it one day. Paying for health insurance each month might seem like just another expense right now, but if you're ever faced with a $100,000 medical bill, a hundred extra dollars a month won't seem so bad after all.
13 When Something's Wrong
Sometimes when something feels "off," we don't listen to ourselves or our bodies and instead choose to put off seeking medical help. We feel as though the problem will resolve itself or that other things are a priority. Not only is it important to find out if something IS wrong, it is also important to find out if nothing is wrong so you can put your mind at ease. If something is wrong, it's better to find out sooner rather than later. They say it's better to be proactive, rather than reactive, and in regard to your health, this is especially true. The sooner you know what's wrong, the better the chances are of it being treatable. You don't want to find out that their is something wrong which could have been prevented. Some minor health issues gone untreated can end wrecking havoc on your body. Avoid uneccesary problems by just going to see your doctor as soon as you feel something is wrong.
12 With Partners
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new romantic interest, and we often want to do anything and everything to please them. Interestingly, millennials have fewer intimate partners than their parents did, but it's still essential to be very careful with sexual partners to prevent unplanned pregnancy or catching/spreading diseases. If a new partner tells you they don't want to use protection and this doesn't sit well with you, it's your job to speak up. You shouldn't ever do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you express your opinion or preference for using protection and they still don't agree, don't be afraid to hold strong to your principles. You might also want to consider dropping them. And while it may be tempting to give in to what your partner wants just to please them, you need to take charge of your own body and health and do what's best for you.
11 At the Gyno
They say women have a harder time dropping their gyno than dropping a friend. And this is because a woman's relationship with her gynecologist is an incredibly important one. Women can face a myriad of reproductive health issues, and regular visits to the gynecologist are the best way to stay on top of things. When you are at the gyno, it's imperative you answer their questions honestly, and voice any questions or concerns you may have about your reproductive health. If it seems uncomfortable to discuss things like how many sexual partners you've had, your period, pain during sex, or any funky smells you may be noticing, keep in mind gynecologists deal with these issues all day, every day. It's so important that you go out of your comfort zone and speak up to your gynecologist or you could risk missing critical signs that something is wrong. They are there to help you, so do yourself a favor and speak up.
10 Speaking to Family Members
You should always ask your family about any health issues that may be in the family, it is important you know your roots. Many common illnesses and diseases are genetic or hereditary, and there may be things you don't know about your family's health history that could affect how you handle your own healthcare. Hopefully, anything super important will have already been disclosed to you by close family members, but it never hurts to ask and make sure there isn't a condition that you may be likely to inherit or develop because of your family history. If you know, for example, there's a history of breast cancer in your family, you will know to be extra diligent about getting mammograms and doing breast exams. Even though it can be scary to realize you have a higher likelihood of developing certain diseases, it also gives you the opportunity to take preventative measures and to know what to look out for.
9 At the Salon
A trip to the nail or hair salon is meant to be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. If you go to a salon that isn't super diligent about cleanliness, your relaxing trip might turn into a total nightmare when you acquire an infection from improperly cleaned tools. And infections can turn into nasty problems later on. Before you get a service done at a salon, make sure to do your due diligence in researching the salon and finding out if there are any known health code violations in their past. Reviews are your best friend here, read them all. Once you arrive at the salon, keep an eye out for how the staff cleans their tools, and especially how they clean the footbaths. If you see anything that concerns you, don't feel bad for leaving. Don't be afraid to ask questions about their sanitizing practices either - you'll be glad you did! Nail salons should be cleaning their tools after every use, you should not be getting the same dirty tools that were used on the lady before you.
8 In Your Home
Okay - taking your health into your own hands in your own home might seem really obvious, but there are certain things that can take place in your home that affect your health that you haven't considered before. If there's a funny smell, or any other reason to suspect mold in your home, don't wait to take action and find out what it is, and to get rid of it. If you're renting a home and you need to deal with this through your landlord, don't feel bad about bugging them consistently until they take action. When it comes to something that isn't just a nuisance, but also impacts your overall health and well-being, a sense of urgency is a must! If your landlord doesn't want to bother with something you are concerned about then you should consider finding another place to live. Your health is more important than that and should always be taken seriously by your landlord.
7 At the Grocery Store
It's easy to think that if food is legally allowed to be sold in our grocery stores, it can't be that bad for you. But unfortunately, that just isn't true! When you're shopping for food, it's your job to know exactly what's in the food you're buying and how it could affect you. Plenty of food producers sneak a whole lot of sugar into food that sound like they should be healthy. Things like flavored yogurt and energy bars can put you way over your daily recommended intake of sugar and if you don't pay attention to what you're buying, you might never know it! Part of being an adult means there's no one to hold your hand while you go about your daily activities, and that includes at the grocery store. Other simple tricks are to make sure you are thoroughly washing your fruits and veggies before eating them, you don't know how many people have touched or been around the food you are about to ingest.
6 On the Town
It's sad that we live in a world where we have to worry about things like being slipped a date GHB pill or "roofie" when we're out trying to have a good time with our friends, but it's a fact, and we need to look out for ourselves so it doesn't happen to us. Date rape drugs, also known as Rohypnol, is a tasteless and colorless substance that can be slipped into an unsuspecting person's drink without them noticing, and when it takes effect, it renders them incapacitated and unable to fight off sexual advances from a predator. When you're out, keep a close eye on your drinks and never leave them unattended. Be weary of accepting drinks from strangers, and immediately tell someone you trust if you start to feel "off" in a way that just drinking alcohol doesn't normally cause. If you turned away from your drink for a while and debate on drinking it, do yourself a favor and just don't.
5 When You're Traveling
Saving up for a trip and packing for a vacation seem like the most important parts of traveling, but when you're visiting exotic places, there are other essential things to keep in mind to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch. Some places you visit might not have safe-for-drinking tap water, or there may be air quality issues, or certain animals and pests that are a danger to your health. Before you travel, make sure you are up to date on any vaccinations you need and that you do your research ahead of time. It's better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you look for any health advisories and make sure you're prepared to deal with them. For example, places like Brazil and Puerto Rico currently have warnings about the Zika virus, and many people are avoiding travel because of the health implications.
4 When You're Driving
When you're a kid, you count on your parents to strap you into your car seat, or to remind you to buckle up each time you're in a vehicle. Now, for all intents and purposes, you're a full-fledged adult and that means it's your responsibility to buckle yourself up and be responsible behind the wheel. When you're driving a vehicle, your life is literally in your hands via the steering wheel, and this is not a responsibility to take lightly. Your behavior behind the wheel affects not only you and your health, but also that of those you share the road with. All too often, many things we consider "common sense" like "wear your seat belt" and "don't drink and drive," aren't common enough and people fail to follow these simple rules. While you can't control what other people do on the road, you can control what you do, and this is not to be taken lightly.
3 When You Need Help
Many physical ailments are noticeable to other people and don't come with a stigma the way many mental health issues do. Unfortunately, your friends and family might not pick up on the things going on inside your head, and because of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, you might be too afraid to speak up when you know you need the help. If you don't have friends or family you trust to help you find mental health help, use other resources (like the internet) to search for mental health professionals or speak to your doctor about getting the help you need. Never feel embarrassed about speaking up about your mental health concerns. Consider just how prevalent mental illness is (it is estimated 1 in 4 people experience some kind of mental disorder), and that medical professionals have been specifically trained to deal with these issues.
2 When You Get Piercings or Tattoos
Piercings and tattoos are a fun way to express your individuality, and for many people, they become an addicting habit. Just as you need to check out salons before having a service done there, it's absolutely critical to make sure the tattoo and piercing parlors you visit are up to code. If the tools used to pierce your skin (including tattoo needles) aren't new or properly sanitized, you risk contracting hepatitis or even HIV. These are obviously very scary conditions, so make sure you research wherever you're going and question the parlor about their cleaning and sanitizing practices ahead of time. No tattoo or piercing is worth seriously damaging your health or even losing your life for. Check reviews for the tattoos parlors and go in before making an appointment to see how they clean their tools. If you see that there isn't much effort going into the sanitization process then look elsewhere.
1 When You Go on an Adventure
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a fun adventure or activity like whitewater rafting or skydiving, or even something that's not quite as much of an adrenaline rush. Sometimes getting caught up in this excitement means forgetting to take the necessary safety precautions so these activities go off without a hitch. If the people you're with aren't worried about things like safety gear, you might be tempted to forgo it as well. Always listen to your gut in these situations, and if something doesn't feel safe or right, it's your responsibility to speak up for yourself and do whatever you can to make sure you're protected from any danger that comes with adventuring. Look into your adventure and do some research, check out what they say is needed or advised for such an activity. In this case remember what your parent's always tell you, it's better to be safe than sorry.