If you had to turn in your health homework, what grade would you expect? Did you get an “A” for effort, or did you earn a solid “C,” so think about it. How well do you attend to your own health and wellness? Do you take the time to get your physical and go to the dentist? If so, were you told you needed to change your habits or seek necessary screenings like a colonoscopy? Do you eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and sleep well? The bottom line, do you feel your best? I challenge you no matter the grade you would expect to receive this year, how will you change your study habits to score better? You see, there is already daily ongoing research being done about your health and Society as a whole. Did you know an actual report card is published on the Internet about us? It is a measure not only of our longevity, but our form and function as well. This information is used to know where we are and where we need to go to reach our best state of health across all people.
Thanks to the Center for Women’s Health Research at UNC, we have a report of the current state of health of North Carolina Women. This information is used to compare us to goals that are set nationally to ready Health People 2020 goals. Information of all females over age 18 is reported. You may be thinking, what are they looking at? How are we graded?
- For 2014, we number about 5-million in North Carolina, and growth is estimated to be around 5,456,980 by 2020. We plan to outnumber our male counterparts through 2020.
- The average age of a woman in North Carolina is 39.4 years.
- Average family size is 2.64 people with about 5-10% of all women giving birth in 2014.
- 33% of all women have had some college and 9% a 4-year degree. There are noted disparities among ethnicities.
- 59% of women are in the labor force.
- About 70% of women in North Carolina have health insurance, however there are noted fluctuations by region. Of all employed women, 80% do have health insurance.
- 20% of women live in poverty, with about 10% either near or considered extreme poverty.
- 66% of women are receiving regular preventative screening. This may support the fact that 46% of women are without a chronic medical illness.
- Approximately 27% of women have one chronic medical condition but another 27% have at least two or more chronic medical conditions. This is therefore over 50% of all women with a chronic medical issue! This includes obesity, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, COPD, arthritis, cancer or depression.
- Breast, lung, colon and rectum, and cervical cancers remain the most common malignancies in North Carolina women. This trend is expected to continue through 2020.
- 21% of women are living with a depressive disorder. About half of women mind you, also have anxiety.
- 24% report having had 3 or more adverse childhood experiences including sexual abuse or living with someone who abuses alcohol or drugs. This does questions the safety and need to protect our children.
- 19% of women in North Carolina smoke or use tobacco products. This contributes to the fact that the #1 killer of women today is heart disease! Smoking accelerates heart disease.
- Alcohol is an issue, where about 8% of women abuse alcohol by binge drinking and an additional 4% report heavy drinking.
- 42% of women report ever being tested for HIV in their lifetime. This is far below our goal as we hope to reach 79% of women being tested by the year 2020. If you haven’t been tested, ask your health care provider.
- Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis remain a high concern as well for infectious disease and screening is vital to your health and Society. You should request screening at your annual physical or when you have a new partner or are suspicious of infidelity.
- 80% of women are seeking prenatal care in the first 12-weeks of pregnancy. Early prenatal care is so important to the health of you and your baby.
- 11% of pregnant women are smoking. This affects the development of baby and places the pregnancy at risk of preterm birth.
- 10% of pregnant women have or develop diabetes. Diabetes also adversely affects baby’s development and is a major focus to improve the health of pregnancy and baby. If a pregnant mother has diabetes, this places baby at risk for diabetes in adulthood as well!
- Breastfeeding is started after birth by 87% of mothers with about 49% continuing beyond one month. 35% are breastfeeding after 8-weeks. There are many barriers to breastfeeding, but this stage of your baby’s life is crucial and breast is best for so many reasons.
- 4.2% of women report being physically or emotionally abused, where about 3.4% are pregnant women. Domestic violence is hard to measure as many do not report for fear of harm by their abuser. It is suspected that this number is far greater in society.
You see we do score well in certain areas, and could do so much better in others. Health may be your ticket to reach your dreams or it could be a boulder blocking your success. We invite you to come and take the time to talk with our obstetrician gynecologists, who are trained to address women’s health issues and review your own personal report card. We are here to discuss what is important to you and what you need to know to achieve your goals and assure your mental and physical well being. It is important to be open and ask questions that you find most intimate or even difficult to share with others, as we are your women’s health advocate and are here for you through your every stage of life.