New Year health resolutions that count

By Dr Alfred Murage

It’s now only a few days to the New Year. As a tradition, many individuals review the past year’s events and come up with a list of resolutions for the coming year. Towards the top of that list should be a firm resolution to lead a healthier life.

Make a resolution to attain and maintain a normal body mass index (BMI). BMI is a computation of weight and height, and is directly related to many disease conditions. BMI calculators are freely available in many health facilities or online. You just need to input your height and weight to come up with your BMI.

The ideal BMI is between 19 and 25. The higher the BMI, the more the risks of cardiovascular disease and adult onset diabetes. Women with high BMIs are less likely to ovulate regularly, meaning potential problems with fertility. There are also more pregnancy complications with high BMIs and increased risks of cancer of the lining of the womb.

Screening

A low BMI is not healthy either. There is association with fertility problems, pregnancy complications and other effects like brittle bones. Resolve to maintain a normal BMI for optimal health through healthy diet and exercise.

Women’s screening tests for early detection of cancers and other diseases have been proven to save lives. Resolve to keep all screening tests up to date. Pap smears and mammograms that detect cervical and breast cancer respectively, have specific screening intervals, which are best adhered to.

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Your gynaecologist may recommend other non-routine screening tests depending on your specific circumstances.

Fertility preservation

As women and men grow older, fertility potential declines. This is more so after the age of 35. If approaching this age and you harbour desires for a family, you may choose to make a specific resolution in this respect. Timings for starting a family often conflict with career and other social plans.

If the timing for such a resolution is not ideal, you could always discuss fertility preservation options with a fertility specialist. This may give you some future options when the timing is right. If already pregnant, resolve to keep all your antenatal care appointments.

If you happen to have any ongoing gynaecological disease, make a resolution to get to the bottom of it. Many gynaecological diseases can be controlled with conservative measures, while others may need more intensive interventions like surgery or long term medication. Resolve to seek out the best health facility and the most qualified gynaecologist you can afford to consult. Seek second opinions if necessary.

This list cannot be exhaustive. Other general health resolutions include stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, limiting use of recreational drugs and practicing safe sex.

You can resolve to be in command of your health, or just allow yourself to drift with the current. Be healthier in 2013.

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