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Girlfriends' Health

Friends get you! They lend an ear to listen, and sometimes, a shoulder to cry on.

They can help you live safe and healthy…for life! Here are some resources and tips to help you and your best buddies look out for one another.

Cancer Prevention

Photo: Three friends at the poolFriends encourage friends to get their regular health tests and screenings, which can help find problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are often better.

  • Cervical cancer is highly preventable. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable. You should start getting regular Pap tests at age 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your health care provider may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test. If you're 30 years old or older, you may choose to have a human papillomavirus (HPV) test along with the Pap test. If your test results are normal, your health care provider may tell you that you can wait as long as five years for your next screening.
  • If your friends are 26 or younger, ask if they got all three HPV shots. If not, suggest getting them now to help prevent cervical and other kinds of cancer.
  • Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it's easier to treat. If you're 50 to 74 years old, get a screening mammogram every two years. If you're 40 to 49 years old, talk to your health care provider.
  • Screening for colorectal cancer saves lives by finding the precancerous polyps and removing them before they turn into cancer, or by finding cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure. You should start screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, and get screened regularly until you're 75 years old.
  • Remind your friends that indoor tanning and tanning outside are both dangerous. They can cause melanoma (the deadliest kind of skin cancer) and cataracts.

Sexual Health

Need health insurance? Find affordable coverage.

The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment starts October 1, 2013.

Most health plans must cover preventive services for women at no cost to you.

Learn what these services are and other health insurance benefits that can help you and your friends stay healthy. Call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov for more information.

You and your friends talk about everything…including sex. Share some tips to help one another with everything from a healthy pregnancy to preventing sexually transmitted infections. Here are a few:

  • No matter what age you are, the most reliable way to avoid infection with a sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex, whether anal, vaginal, or oral. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is also one of the most reliable ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Getting tested is the only way to be certain you are not infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
  • If you don’t intend to get pregnant, there are several safe and highly effective methods of birth control available. If you do intend to have a baby, engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant to help ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby.

Quitting Drinking and Smoking

Friends can be important sources of support in working on changing health behaviors, for example, when you are trying to quit drinking or give up smoking. There are other sources of support too, such as:

  • The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service available at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) — This service can provide you with information about treatment programs in your local community and you can speak with someone about alcohol problems. Excessive drinking is connected to numerous health problems, including harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant. Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) increases the chances of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and many other health problems.
  • The state tobacco quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-855-855-7081; relay service 1-800-833-6384 — Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and your loved ones are no longer exposed to secondhand smoke—which causes many health problems in infants and children as well as adults.

Staying Safe

Photo: Two friends holding a guitarEncourage your friend to wear her seatbelt, and take steps to reduce falls, drowning, drug overdose, and violence and abuse. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in those up to 34 years of age.

Friends stick together no matter what, especially if one of them is being abused. Abuse is more common than some people think. 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. But there are resources to help.

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 (1-800-799-7233) or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

 

More Information

 

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  • Page last reviewed: July 29, 2013
  • Page last updated: July 29, 2013
  • Content source: Office of Women's Health
  • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Division of News and Electronic Media
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