Women’s health is a particularly important area of health care, especially because the health of mothers directly impacts the health of newborns and families. In every country, women face certain health challenges that have become a major concern to global health organizations.
To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Regis College’s Regis School of Nursing.
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Women’s Health Statistics
Four issues – sexual abuse, violence against women, postpartum depression, and breast cancer – are negatively impacting women’s health.
Sexual Abuse and Violence Against Women
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30% “of ever partnered women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner in their lifetime,” and 35% “of women have experienced physical/sexual violence by a partner and/or sexual violence by a non-partner in their lifetime.”
In the United States, nearly 10% of women have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Studies also indicate that 91% of rape and sexual assault victims are women, and that 81% of women victims report a substantial short-term or long-term impact like PTSD. Additionally, 25% of women experience severe intimate partner physical violence, and 15% of all violent crime is intimate partner violence.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
According to WHO, “Worldwide, about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression.” Unfortunately, seven in ten women hid or downplay these symptoms.
In 2015, 124.8 out of 100,000 women had breast cancer. Breaking it down by ethnicity, whites and blacks were similar in their per 100,000 rates, with 125.6 and 123.3 women respectively. The most prevalent age group per 100,000 women was the 70-79 age range, with 907.4 women. This was followed by the 60-69 age range (755.6) and the 80+ range (716.5).
Risk Factors in Women’s Health Challenges
To reduce rates of crimes committed against women and various physical and mental health conditions, it’s important to understand the risk factors. The CDC has helped here by identifying several risk factors associated with instances of intimate partner violence (IPV), breast cancer, and sexual violence. The American Psychological Association has also identified numerous risk factors linked to postpartum depression.
Access to Care Among Women with Low Income
One major obstacle to improving women’s health is increasing access to care for women with low income. In 2016, more than 16 million women were living in poverty. This includes 21.4% of black women, 22.8% of Native American women, 18.7% of Latina women, and 10.7% of Asian women. In 2017, roughly 25 percent of women delayed or didn’t obtain care due to costs. Other challenges have also been identified as impactful for women’s care access, including taking time off work, childcare, and transportation.
Informational Resources and Support
Nurse practitioners (NPs) specializing in women’s health are working to address these health challenges and reduce rates of physical and mental health conditions among women. In addition, numerous government and nonprofit organizations in the U.S. are taking steps to raise awareness and provide free services, information, and support.
Role of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
NPs play an active role in supporting women’s health by providing vital services to women patients. These services including fertility evaluation, breast cancer screening, reproductive health exams and treatment, contraceptive care, and pregnancy care.
Increasing Access to Care
Four national organizations – the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the National association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health – have partnered “to update the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines and to develop new recommendations,” according to a press release. These guidelines will “serve as the basis for insurance coverage at no cost sharing to the patient and are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).” The release also stated that updating these new guidelines will help ensure American women receive “the most current, evidence-based, cost-effective preventative care.”
Government and Nonprofit Efforts
There are numerous organizations currently working to improve access. The CDC’s Cancer Genomics Program aims to increase the number of people aware of their family history of cancer. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Program devotes its time to support emergency shelters and provide related assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children. The Sexual Assault Initiative (SAKI) provides resolution for victims of sexual assault via processes like testing kits, investigating leads, and pursuing prosecutions. Postpartum Support International dedicates their time to providing PPD support, education, and resource info. Finally, Black Women’s Health Imperative provides physical, emotional, and financial health-driven support to black women and girls.
Resources for More Information and Support
Several entities exist that provide women with the resources and support needed for improved health. These entities include the Domestic Violence Resource Network, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and CancerCare.
Women’s health nurse practitioners work closely with women in various care settings. They see firsthand the challenges faced by women and the obstacles in the healthcare system. By collaborating with policy makers, local organizations, and communities, NPs can clear the way for greater access to care and improve women’s health.