There is a growing public health initiative, in the United States, encouraging women to not only engage in a healthy lifestyle but also to seek out medical attention, promptly, when complications are present. In many women, preventative care is often avoided because of known pre-existing health complications. This train of thought is believed to be self-defeating in that some woman, with pre-existing health conditions, simple “give up” on themselves and not only avoid resolving the health complication but also avoid practicing other preventative and health lifestyle choices.
One aspect of concern involves women who are obese or considered to be overweight. Often, because of the excess weight, women who struggle with obesity simply give up on themselves, failing to seek gynecological treatment for health complications out of this embarrassment. To further compound the female complication, an obese woman may even avoid practicing any other form of healthy lifestyle choice because of the same rooted embarrassment or stigmatism she may feel in association with her body image.
In terms of psychological and emotional health, women who are obese tend to suffer from complications associated with low self esteem and embarrassment, often failing to even to be seen by a doctor for an annual well-woman examination. This failure to follow through on preventative health screenings, such as mammogram and Pap smear, turns this classification of women into an “at-risk” group, often suffering health complications that are undiagnosed for many years.
In addition to being “at-risk” for failing to follow through on annual preventative health screenings, the mere fact that obesity exists, places these same women at risk for higher incidences of breast cancer and cervical cancer.
The gynecological screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer, by mammogram and Pap smear, respectively, are no different for obese women than non-obese women. However, when provided with recommendations on women’s health, including actual orders from a healthcare provider, obese women show a greater tendency towards non-compliance.
To offset this complication, many gynecologists and family practitioners are now creating an internal office process in which patients are required to follow-up with the physician or the physician’s staff may contact the patient to determine if the recommended health screenings were done. While this does not guarantee the health of all women, it does establish some rapport within the patient-doctor relationship which, ultimately, may help a few women follow through on the recommended cancer screenings that may save her life.