In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, Avon HMO, a renowned healthcare company in Nigeria organized a groundbreaking webinar focused on “optimizing women’s health across key life stages”.

The virtual event held on Friday, March 8, brought together medical experts, policymakers, and women from all walks of life to discuss pressing and important issues, as well as innovative solutions on women’s health.

Under the theme “Optimizing Women’s Health across Key Life Stages”, the webinar aimed to shed light on the unique health challenges women face throughout their lives, from adolescence to menopause and beyond.

Speaking on maintaining a healthy body for women, Adesimbo Ukiri, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Avon HMO and Healthcare Sector Head, of Heirs Holdings, stressed the importance of women taking proper care of their bodies while practising good hygiene.

According to Mrs Ukiri, “Every offensive smell or discharge is not necessarily a sexually transmitted disease.” She also stated that women should make it a habit to constantly visit the hospital for medical checkups whenever they notice any unusual symptoms.

Speaking on Cervical Cancer as one of the health challenges women face, Dr. Olabisi Olarenwaju, a Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecologist, noted that sexually experienced women stood chances of getting exposed to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) a virus that can affect the genitals and progressively leads to cervical cancer.

Dr. Olarenwaju also emphasized the need for women to speak up and seek medical support in whatever health challenges they face noting that a lot of women are not aware of the HPV vaccination. She further advised that women should learn more about it so that treatments can proceed afterwards.

Also, she noted that lots of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) offer free testing for HPV and that special occasion such as International Women’s Day is a great moment for women to run free tests that concern women’s wellness.

“There are lots of corporate organizations that organize health screenings for their staffs, religious homes that do same too. So once you are well educated, it is okay for you to have the HPV vaccination,” Dr. Olarenwaju remarked.

“If you become so badly affected that you need medications, then all we need to do is to counsel you on what the possible side effects may be and then you take responsibility for those actions and also responsibilities to be followed up,” she added.

“Because when you are on these medications, we also need to follow you up. And we don’t want to lose women to follow up for the risk. We don’t want to put you on medications and you disappear, we can’t follow you up, we can’t check the thickness of your uterus linings and all of that.

“We don’t want women to suffer in silence any more. We want women to make their options to lay their cards on the table and make a well-informed choice,” she explained.

Additionally, Dr. Olarenwaju addressed the occurrence of menopause in women as they grow older. She mentioned that it is not something to be ashamed of, noting that lots of women needed to be properly educated on menopause. She also encouraged the women not to be afraid, but rather, talk to someone about it when it becomes so overwhelming.

“Peri-menopause and menopause is something that women should talk about. A lot of women experience dry vagina. And even they want to have intercourse but because the vagina is dry, and also the possible pain that comes with having intercourse with dry vagina, they shy away from it. And this becomes an area of conflict in the home and a stress for the woman. There are a lot of therapies we can offer. Women should be free to talk about these things,“ she urged.

Furthermore, one of the discussants, Dr. Olubunmi Salako, a physician and consultant Pediatrician discussed strategies for managing symptoms during pre-menopause and menopause. She explained that menopause comes along with many symptoms such as mood swings, irritation, vagina dryness, weight gain, memory lapse, joint pains, and emptiness syndrome, among others.

However, she noted that the stigma and shame that many attach to menopause should not be encouraged as menopause should be embraced.

“Life begins at 40. To many, it’s several things, but to me, it means purposeful living,” she maintained.

She also urged that a lot of women should make it a priority to engage in healthy living which includes avoiding excess alcohol or sugary food/drinks, drinking enough water, eating healthy food and exercising.

Mrs. Achalugo Chioma Ilozumba, one of the discussants representing thrifty thirties, addressed ways of balancing health during childbearing years. She also addressed the issue of menopause, stressing the importance of women undergoing menopause to embrace it and not fall into depression due to the changes that occur as they grow older.

“Growing old is what we want and is what we pray for. So we should see menopause as a blessing,” Achalugo noted.

Originally published in Nigerian Observer

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