Beauty - Improving Your Body Image
Why do I hate the way I look?
A negative body image can affect a woman’s entire life. It can lead to feelings of shame and anxiety, low self-esteem, extreme dieting or other eating disorders, and depression. There can be several causes of a negative body image, starting with the pressure to look like society’s ideal, or comparing yourself with someone you consider attractive. Negative comments from friends or family may also be a cause.
What can I do about it?
Learning to accept yourself is a process, but it is worth the effort. Start by understanding and accepting that women can be attractive and healthy regardless of their shape or size. Taking control of your health and wellness will help improve your body image. This may mean deciding to eat healthier, exercise more or get more rest. These are simple but effective strategies that will increase your energy and make you feel good inside and out.
Where can I find out more?
Here are some helpful links on improving your body image:
Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
Beauty - Beautiful Hair and Skin
I am self-conscious about my acne, but what can I do?
Acne is a condition caused by skin cells that do not shed properly. These cells plug your pores, and cause oil and bacteria to be trapped inside. This causes inflammation and swelling, forming whiteheads, blackheads and pimples.
There are several ways to deal with mild acne at home, including washing your face twice a day with gentle cleanser and warm water, over-the-counter cream or lotion. Your doctor may prescribe a cream containing benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid or sulfur. If you don’t see an improvement in six to eight weeks, see your doctor.
For extreme cases of acne, covering a large portion of your face or other parts of your body, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic or even an oral contraceptive. Another effective treatment is the use of an FDA-approved laser that delivers a pulse to the affected area, boosting the body’s natural bacteria-fighting defenses.
I have varicose veins. They are not only ugly, they hurt.
Is there any hope?
Varicose veins occur when valves in the veins become weakened and allow blood to back into the vein and pool there. This enlarges the vein and causes a bulge, which can appear red, blue or purple. They can be caused by genetic factors, increasing age, pregnancy, obesity, leg injury or hormonal changes. Varicose veins can become painful as they enlarge over time.
Here are some tips on how you can help prevent new varicose veins and alleviate symptoms:
- Exercise regularly
- Wear elastic support hose
- Elevate your legs when you can
- Reduce your sodium intake
- Losing weight
- Do not cross your legs while seated
Laser treatment is also available, which heats and coagulates the pooled blood in the vein, causing the vein to collapse and seal.
Fitness and Nutrition – Weight
I know I need to lose some weight, but where do I start?
Contrary to what you see on television or read online, the best way to lose weight is not a diet. A combination of healthy eating and physical exercise are the keys to successful weight loss, and will lead to lifelong fitness. When you have made the decision to change your eating and exercise, speak with your doctor about a plan that will work for you.
Am I obese?
Doctors use a body mass index (BMI) to determine if you are overweight or obese. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on your height and weight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.
What are my options if I am obese?
Safe and effective weight loss includes making healthy food choices, getting regular exercise and developing a plan for long-term management. Your doctor may prescribe a USDA-approved medication for weight loss, and there are surgical options that are also available. As always, start by talking to your doctor. Join a healthy weight loss support group. Talking with others who have the same goals is a good choice, and will help you stick to your commitment to lose weight.
How fast could I lose weight?
Everyone is different, but experts agree that safe weight loss should not exceed 3 pounds per week. You should be losing .75 pounds to 2 pounds per week by following a healthy weight loss program.
Where can I go for more information?
National Women’s Health Information Center
Fitness and Nutrition – Recipes
I want to start eating healthier, but where do I start?
Here are some simple ideas for improving your eating habits.
- Eat plenty of fruits and a variety of vegetables
- Get plenty of calcium
- Include whole grain foods in your menu
- Choose lean meats
- Reduce your sodium intake
- Limit saturated fats
Where can I go to find good, nutritious recipes?
There are many online resources available, including:
How do I get my family to start eating healthier?
Nutritious food doesn’t have to be boring. Look for recipes that include fresh herbs or spices that add flavor, but not fat or calories. Try low-sodium spice blends or marinades. Tell your family about your plans to control your weight, and encourage them to eat healthier along with you. This will make it easier for you to stay committed to your plan.
What about it?
Your mental health is just as much a part of your life as your physical health. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in four adults in the U.S. suffers from some form of mental illness. It’s an important topic.
What conditions specifically affect women?
There are several mental health issues that can affect women:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Panic disorders
How can I tell if it’s serious?
If something in your life is preventing you from being happy, social and productive over a period of time, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Some mental conditions have a physical or genetic cause, and your doctor may start by ordering several tests. The cause may also be stress or environmental factors, in which case your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are only for crazy people, right?
You may feel that there is a stigma associated with seeking help from a psychiatrist or psychologist, which might make you self-conscious or anxious about getting help. Here are some words of reassurance. Your mental health information, just like any medical record, is kept strictly confidential. Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained professionals, with only your well being in mind. You can share your decision to seek mental help with your closest family and friends, or you might decide to keep it to yourself. It’s your life, and your health.
Where can I go to read more?
Mental Health Services Locator
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
National Mental Health Information Center (SAMHSA, HHS) HealthyMinds.org
National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
Sex - Loss of Libido
Why discuss sex and sexuality?
A satisfying sex life is part of feeling fulfilled as a woman. But many times, health or emotional issues can detract from or inhibit sex. Openly discussing these issues will help you move toward the kind of sex life you need and want.
I’m just not into it – what’s wrong with me?
A lack of interest in sex is called hypoactive sexual desire, sexual apathy, sexual aversion and loss of libido. It is a lack of interest or aversion to sex that may be attached to a specific person or to sex in general. In extreme cases, women may find sex repulsive or disgusting.
What is causing my lack of interest in sex?
Inhibited sexual desire can be caused by any number of things, but it is usually based on relationship problems. Emotional distance from your partner, a lack of affection, or even not having time alone together can lead to a loss of libido (desire for and or enjoyment of sexual activity). Simply dealing with the stresses and demands of everyday life can create a lack of desire. A severe aversion to sex can stem from a trauma, such as abuse or rape. Physical causes of inhibited sexual desire can be hormonal imbalances, insomnia, fatigue, depression or excessive stress.
What can I do to take control of my sex life?
First, speak to your doctor about what’s happening to rule out any possible physical causes of your loss of libido. You may also discuss how certain medications or illnesses could reduce your interest in sex. Your doctor may test your testosterone level, a rare cause of inhibited sexual desire. You may be referred to a family or marriage counselor, who will help you work on your relationship. Many times improving communication can help enhance your sex life. Counseling can help you learn to relax, understand your own feelings about sex, and discover what pleases you.
What other resources are available?
There are many good books available on improving your sex life. You can also learn more through these online articles:
American Academy of Family Physicians
Sex - Pain During Intercourse
Why does it hurt when I have sex?
Painful intercourse is also known as dyspareunia. The pain may occur during entry into the vagina, during deep thrusting or after intercourse. The pain can be on the surface or deep, along the middle of the pelvis or on one or both sides.
There are several causes for dyspareunia, or painful intercourse. One of the most common causes is a lack of lubrication, which can be a result of medication, illness, lack of arousal, lack of estrogen, infection, cysts or tumors or endometriosis. Yeast infections, trichomonas vaginitis, and bacterial vaginosis associated with vaginal inflammation may also cause pain during intercourse. Certain douches, spermicides and condoms have agents that are irritating and can cause inflammation and make sex painful. Vaginismus, a spasm of pubic muscles and lower vagina, can cause pain during intercourse. Vaginismus may be present only during intercourse and in some women the pain may be so great that they cannot even have a gynecologic exam. Medical causes of vaginismus include scars from vaginal injury, childbirth, surgery or pelvic infections. Women who experience pain on deep penetration during intercourse may have a pelvic infection, pelvic mass, endometriosis or bowel problems. If you have pain with deep penetration you should see your physician for further evaluation.
How is it treated?
The first place to start is with your medical provider. Discuss your situation to uncover any physical reasons for painful intercourse. If the cause is a lack of lubrication, longer foreplay or a lubricating jelly are simple ways to increase lubrication. Sometimes, psychological factors can contribute to painful sex. Speak to your doctor about possible counseling to get to the root of the problem.
Sex After Baby
How soon can my husband and I have sex after the baby is born?
It is recommended that you wait six weeks before resuming intercourse.
Six weeks? Why?
During delivery, many of your vaginal tissues are stretched and often torn. Your cervix dilates and often undergoes a certain amount of trauma. It takes approximately six weeks for your uterus, cervix and vaginal tissues to return to their normal pre-pregnant state.
Will it hurt?
If you have waited six weeks, you should not experience pain during sex. By then, if you had an episiotomy, the stitches will have dissolved, so you should not have discomfort at the incision site.