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Women's Health In The Spotlight

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Women who are concerned about their health can get some important information this week in Pensacola. 

The Women’s Health Expo will be held at Sacred Heart Hospital this Thursday evening beginning at 5. There will be speakers on four areas of women’s health, as well as health screenings, wellness education…even a little pampering. One of the health issues that will be addressed is osteoporosis.

"More women get osteoporosis than men." Dr. Suzanne Bush is an associate professor with the FSU College of Medicine. "All people lose bone naturally. But some (lose it) at a faster rate, and those are the people that we really like to target early and prevent them from getting osteoporosis. Younger women CAN get osteoporosis, and younger men depending on medications and other things that happen to them. By and large it usually begins at age 50 or older."

Many people think that if they get enough calcium they will be safe from osteoporosis, but Dr. Bush says that’ not enough. Weight bearing exercise is important for preserving bone strength…as well as vitamin D.

"It is an important vitamin. And I really think in the 80s when I was in medical school they kind of lied to us and said 'oh don't worry about women in Florida they get plenty of sunshine'. Vitamin D is a sunshine vitamin. But what we did was we told them to wear sunscreen and they suddenly were working indoors; didn't get an opportunity to get the sunshine they needed and became vitamin D deficient." She also pointed out that some people avoid dairy and most dairy products are fortified with vitamin D. "Some people will get osteoporosis no matter what we do. But we can, by and large, spare a lot of women from the tragedy of a hip or spinal fracture."

Other topics being highlighted at the Women’s health Expo will be Breast Cancer and Mammography, Incontinence and Pelvic Pain…and dealing with a condition every woman will experience: menopause.

"(Women get) a lot of education at the start of our fertility. A lot of young women get a lot of education about their menstrual cycle and their periods but we really don't talk about what happens at the latter part of our fertility window, that change from menstruation to menopause." Dr. Julie DeCesare is a clinical Associate professor at the UF College of Medicine. She says that while the average of menopause is around age 50, and that has remained steady over the years, a woman will start to feel changes in her body years before the actual event. In fact, event probably isn’t the best word either. "Considering menopause as being 'an event' is really not accurate. it's sort of a phase of your life that occurs over several years with multiple, incremental small changes that ultimately lead to the menstruation process stopping."

Dr. DeCesare says the controversy over hormone replacement therapy has died down over the past few years, and now each woman should make the choice about her individual treatment with her doctor. "Hormones are not appropriate for everybody but (they) are appropriate for a lot of people depending on your symptoms. If you have symptoms that are interfering with your quality of life then I think hormone replacement is important." She says at the Women’s Health Expo she will talk about different options and strategies that women can then discuss with their doctors.  

Again, the expo will be held this Thursday evening from 5 until 7:30 at Sacred Heart Hospital on 9th Avenue in Pensacola. There is no charge but you must RSVP at 416-1600.