Girlfriends can help each other live safe and healthy…for life.
Could you have your own reality show with just you and your girlfriends? No strangers or scripts needed. There is always enough drama in life for friends to tackle. We all know that being a good girlfriend takes more than casual conversation. Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it takes being assertive, frank, and resourceful. We’ve got resources and tips to help you and your girlfriends stay on the right track to being safe and healthy, with or without the drama…for life.
National Girlfriends Day is celebrated on August 1.
Remember the many times you and your girlfriends have helped each other handle life and health issues. Here are just a few examples and a few facts and resources for future use.
Friends and sexually transmitted infections prevention:
Remember when you were about to go away with that guy you didn’t really know and you almost didn’t tell anyone; but Traci set you straight about sexually transmitted infections and safety issues. And you still thank her to this day.
- Getting tested is the only way to know if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- The surest way to avoid transmission of STIs is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.
Friends and intimate partner violence:
Remember when all of you helped Susan after she was abused by you-know-who. You were surprised to learn that she was being abused and found out that it’s more common than some people think. You connected her to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and they assisted her with the other resources she needed.
- The term "intimate partner violence" describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.
- Among victims of intimate partner violence, about 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
- If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.
Friends, healthy weight and heart disease prevention:
To help Brenda lose weight after being diagnosed with high blood pressure you were her biggest champions. You supported her eating healthful meals, helped her cut down on sodium in her diet, and encouraged her to take her high blood pressure medication as prescribed. But the rest of you needed to be more active and health conscious too. Now, all of you get your 2½ hours of moderate physical activity each week, eat a diet low in sodium, and you look and feel fabulous!
- Calculate your BMI and learn your risk for chronic diseases.
- Weight loss and weight maintenance is not about trend dieting but about daily healthy lifestyle choices.
- State obesity prevention programs are implementing innovative practices to help you and your family become healthy and stay healthy.
Friends before, during, and after pregnancy, and pregnancy prevention:
Janet is grateful that she could talk to you before getting pregnant. The girls helped her prepare questions for her and her husband to ask the doctor at their appointment to make sure they were healthy and ready before getting pregnant. Thank goodness she also had you to help give her a reality check and think about contraception and options for planning their future family, as well as through those first weeks of breastfeeding. It made all the difference as she’s now breastfed Joshua for 6 months (he is such an adorable baby), and is encouraging others to breastfeed.
- If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, there are steps you can take for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
- If you have diabetes or gestational diabetes, control your blood sugar before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects and other health issues.
- If pregnant, States have programs that can help a woman have a healthy baby. For information on prenatal services in your community, call 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229). For information in Spanish, call 1-800-504-7081.
- Sign up for text4baby. Text4baby is a free text messaging service that provides health info and resources via a cell phone on having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.
- Breastfeeding support during your hospital stay can help you successfully reach your breastfeeding goals —ask for lactation support, immediate skin-to-skin contact, and rooming in (mom and baby stay in the same room during stay).
- Almost half of all pregnancies are unintended. Yet, several safe and highly effective methods of contraception (birth control) are available to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Friends and cancer prevention:
Or better yet, how about when you helped Maria find resources for a free mammogram and Pap test after she lost her job and benefits. Thank goodness she had her screenings and her annual physical exam. When she told all of you it was pre-cancerous, that scared you, but you found out it could be treated. She got it treated and now she’s fine.
- Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
- The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to breast and cervical cancer screening to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women.
- Cervical cancer is highly preventable. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable.
Friends and smoking/secondhand smoke prevention:
The way all of you supported Courtney as she tried to quit smoking was inspiring. It was worth the effort. She finally did it! Her family is thankful for no longer being exposed to secondhand smoke, and her risk for lung cancer is decreasing.
- For support in quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-800-332-8615.
- Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.
- Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.
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