Healthy year alert: 8 keys to success in 2018 and beyond

National Women's Health Week is the perfect excuse to get on top of your health, in and out of the bedroom.

By Afshan Mizrahi.

Between balancing responsibilities and making summer plans, things can get a little chaotic this time of year. For me, National Women’s Health Week (May 8-14 this year) is great motivation to make sure I have my sh*t together despite the chaos. Luckily, there are a few things we can all do that are really important and not that time consuming (even for the average lazy person like myself). So you don’t have to add worrying about whether or not you’re living healthy to your list of duties.

1. Get an annual well-woman visit

That’s right, get on it! Did you know that well-woman visits are considered a preventive service in insurance world and the real world? That means they are covered under—you guessed it—the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. ObamaCare). Be sure to check out Care Women Deserve for more information on preventative services covered by your insurance without a co-pay. Depending on what you and your provider decide is important, your well-woman exam can cover different screenings for alcohol misuse, blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs, a.k.a. STDs). Communication is key when it comes to these visits, so don’t spare the dirty details.

If you’re anything like me, you might find it hard to remember something that takes place only once a year. I’m super paranoid about missing my appointment, so I always use Bedsider’s appointment reminders.

2. Drink in moderation

I know that there’s always a reason to celebrate and get LIT, but keep it to a minimum. A little buzz can go a long way.

Pro-tip: Limiting yourself to one or two drinks when you’re partying lets you have fun without losing control or risking a hangover in the morning.

3. Choose the right birth control

Birth control can help with many things in addition to preventing pregnancy. For me, the pill helped with cramping during Aunt Flo’s visits and I didn’t experience any negative side effects. Every person’s body is different and each body’s reaction to a method can be different, so make sure you’re using a method that works well with your body and meets your needs.

Worried that a method might break the bank? Keep calm. Under the ACA, all FDA-approved methodsincluding hormonal and non-hormonal IUDsthe implantthe shotthe pill, and many others should be covered.

Pro-tip: Psssst! If you want to be discreet about your health-related decisions while on your parents’ insurance, check this out.

4. Reduce your risk for STIs

We’ve all heard this one before: GET TESTED! Buuut, people may not always know when or where to get tested for STIs. Personally, I take the kill-two-birds-with-one-stone approach and ask my provider if I can also get tested during my annual well-woman visit. If you prefer your testing separately, or if you don’t have insurance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a tool to find out what locations offer free testing near you. The tool shows you what specific options different locations provide for getting tested for HIV and other STIs.

Remember, most birth control methods will keep you protected from pregnancy but not STIs. The good news is you can prevent STIs, including HIV, by using condoms. Experiment with textured, flavored, latex, or non-latex condoms until you find your favorite condom ever.

Pro-tip: If you’re sexually active, doubling up (using condoms with another method) is a great way to prevent pregnancy and STIs.

5. So fresh and so clean, clean

That feeling where you have to pee but you don’t have to pee? If you’ve experienced this, it could be a urinary tract infection, or UTI. That itch down south that you’re reluctant to scratch? It’s possible that’s caused by a yeast infection. The best way to steer clear of infections down there—both UTIs and yeast infections—is just not douching. Other common recommendations to stay healthy include peeing after sexchanging your underwear, and drinking real cranberry juice.

6. Breathe in, breathe out

Life is too short to spend your time stressed. I’m especially irritable when I have a lot of deadlines, so I wind down by reading books, taking baths, or singing my heart out to ‘90s throwbacks. Some people prefer to meditate, play an instrument, or work out. It’s essential to have an activity that keeps you relaxed. If your mental health is up to par, life is easier to handle and way more enjoyable.

7. A gift only you can give

You all saw this one coming… Love yourself! (And not the in the way that Justin Bieber wants you to.) There are lots of different ways to feel more comfortable in your own skin. Though it can be a process, it will bring confidence and motivation to your life however you approach it. If you’re finding yourself feeling down or dealing with an overwhelming issue, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or a professional.

And speaking of communication…

8. What a time to open up

Are you reading this and feeling overwhelmed and excited? Wondering, “When do I start? What do I do first? How can I add these beneficial factors into my lifestyle?” Take it easy, because you don’t have to go through it alone. Whenever I’m making major decisions, I get a little expressive and talk to my mom about how things are about to change for me—for the better! If you want a second opinion on what you should do regarding your health—or if you just want someone alongside to hold your hand through it all—this could be the time to break down the barrier with your mom or another a family member, or to get more intimate with your partner.

— Afshan Mizrahi works at Bedsider and enjoys anything that relates to people or music. She promotes sexual awareness and knowledge through social media. Her full name translates to: blooming flower of royalty lives in the ash tree grove of the east.

washingtonpost.com

Researchers try to understand naked mole rats' resistance to cancer
With their pinkish, translucent and wrinkly skin, double-saber buck teeth and black-bead eyes, naked mole rats look like characters in a nightmare from hell. In fact, they do live underground in pitch-dark burrows where their air, from a human point of view, can contain chokingly little oxygen, t...

Doctors try new models to push health insurers aside
Just about everyone agrees that the way we pay for primary care needs fixing. Under the current insurance model, doctors get paid for procedures and tests rather than for time spent with patients, which displeases doctors and patients alike and increases costs. Now some medical practices are side...

Medigap supplemental coverage can be too pricey for younger Medicare beneficiaries
One night three years ago, Joe Hobson finished reading a book, went to sleep and woke up blind. The problem, caused by a rare hereditary disease, forced him to give up his 20-year communications job, along with its generous health insurance. Now 63, the Arlington man is covered by Medicare, the f...

Breathless, but not from asthma

Fish and seafood recipe recommendations
Jennifer LaRue Huget offers some suggestions

Fish and seafood recipes
How much fish and seafood should you eat each week? What are some good recipes?

Inside the new Dietary Guidelines: Fish and other seafood
Jennifer LaRue Huget explains how best to incorporate the new dietary guidelines on seafood into your diet.

Parenting an overweight child can be difficult
Should they intervene early and practice a form of benign neglect, hoping that the baby fat will melt away as a child grows?

Type 2 diabetes surges in people younger than 20
U.S. cases in those under 20 have grown from almost zero to tens of thousands in just over a decade.

Surgeon general says obesity crisis should be addressed together
Surgeon general says obesity crisis should be addressed together.

Need to make tough decisions about your pet? A veterinary social worker can help.
These specialists improve communication between vets and clients, provide emotional support, and offer grief counseling.

Instead of tracking calories and steps, try these 5 mindful apps
These approaches focus on how you feel and what your goals are.

These apps may have told Facebook about the last time you had sex
A new report found that some period-tracking apps shared intimate information with Facebook. In some cases, that data included when the user reported last having sex.

Need to make tough decisions about your pet? A veterinary social worker can help.
These specialists improve communication between vets and clients, provide emotional support, and offer grief counseling.

What is intuitive eating, and how do you do it?
Figuring out what you want to eat, rather than what you think you should eat, can be surprisingly difficult.

Is it really possible that plant-based foods such as the Impossible Whopper are healthful?
Beware of ultra-processed foods, no matter what they’re based on.

12 etiquette tips for yoga class — and the reasons behind them
Adhere to these sometimes-unspoken rules to make the studio welcoming for everyone.

From feta to American slices, a ranking of cheeses by healthfulness
Americans are consuming more cheese than ever. Here is what you need to know to do so wisely.

Is alkaline water really better for you?
Manufacturers claim the product makes your body less acidic. But your body does a good job of keeping your pH levels where they need to be.

Be like Serena and Roger: Older amateurs offer tips for maintaining your athletic edge.
Among the advice: Just play, with people you enjoy.

Food and activity trackers can have downsides. Here are three signs to watch out for.
Using trackers can reduce enjoyment of an activity and worsen symptoms of eating disorders.

A primer on whole grains: What they are, why they’re important and how to find them
Adults should consume three servings of whole grains a day. But according to the CDC we’re falling short of that mark.

Mermaiding is trendy. I hit the water in monofin and tail to see if it’s also a workout.
One fan tells me that once I start doing it, I’ll forget I’m exercising. And she’s right.

Herring and pumpernickel, anyone? Introducing the Nordic diet.
Like the Mediterranean diet, this way of eating focuses on fresh and local foods.

Sugar, fiber, pasteurization: Here's what you need to know about juice
Fruit juice contains too much sugar and has too little fiber. Vegetable juice can be healthy, but you have to be careful about pasteurization.

What are ‘hormone diets’ — and can they really help you lose weight quickly?
No evidence supports this fad’s claims that you can adjust your hormones through what you eat, or that doing so will lead to weight loss.

Your gym is teeming with invisible members: Germs. Here’s how to avoid them.
Bacteria are all over workout equipment, fungal infections lurk in showers.

Could social media and diet trends be contributing to a little-known eating disorder?
Orthorexia nervosa is an obsession with wellness and “clean eating.”

Where are the bok choy or the plantains? Why U.S. dietitians should be more culturally aware.
Eurocentric nutritional approaches featuring examples of slim white people don’t reflect today’s society.

The many reasons a British writer was wrong to disparage Nike’s plus-size mannequins
It’s a mistake to create barriers to exercise for anyone who wants to exercise.