28 May 9 Symptoms Women Should Never Ignore
Got a headache that won’t subside, a tummy ache that won’t taper, or experiencing pain instead of pleasure during sex? Don’t downplay it — take heed of these potentially harmful symptoms.
By Diana Rodriguez
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
As women, we tend to brush off aches and pains, discomfort, and fatigue. Who has the time or energy to get to the bottom of all those annoying symptoms anyway? Here’s who: You — it’s crucial for all women to pay attention to their bodies so they can tune in to any potential problems. From hellish headaches to sleepless nights, take note of these potentially serious women’s health symptoms.
Even if you have an overwhelming number of responsibilities on your plate, exhaustion is one symptom women just shouldn’t ignore. Why? Extreme fatigue can signal an array of different issues, including depression, thyroid conditions, diabetes — even congestive heart failure or cancer. If you find that you’re exhausted and can’t get your energy back with rest, exercise, and a healthy diet, schedule an exam with your doctor.
A little tummy ache every now and then probably isn’t a big deal — but constant bloating and stomach discomfort could be. While abdominal pain could be just painful gas, it could also be a symptom of appendicitis, a stomach ulcer, or a problem with the gallbladder. If you find that you can’t get relief from abdominal pain (particularly if it seems to be persistent and located in one specific area in your stomach), call your doctor to discuss your symptoms. You may need an office visit or immediate medical attention to identify the problem.
Any time you feel pain or pressure in the chest, it’s nothing to take lightly. Although chest pain (which is called angina when it’s caused by heart disease) isn’t always a sign of a heart attack, it could be a warning that you have coronary heart disease. If you feel any sort of chest pain or pressure, seek emergency medical attention.
Does your heart flutter when you see your sweetheart? That’s one thing. But if your significant other is nowhere in sight, it could be a women’s health problem that needs to be addressed. Heart palpitations also may stem from caffeine overload, but insufficient oxygen in the blood, a disease of the valves in the heart, or hyperthyroidism could also be responsible. Set up an exam with your doctor to go over your symptoms and check up on the health of your heart.
If sex hurts, pay attention: Your body could be trying to tell you something. Painful sex can signal a number of gynecological problems, including a vaginal infection, changes in your hormones, or a condition such as endometriosis. So if you find that intercourse is uncomfortable or just plain painful, schedule an exam with your ob-gyn to identify the cause.
While a stressful day at work or screaming kids are bound to cause the occasional headache, persistent headaches can be a sign of a women’s health problem. You are likely to have painful, hard-to-relieve headaches known as migraines — but on rare occasions, it’s also possible for headaches to be a symptom of a stroke, an infection in the brain, a tumor, or an aneurysm. If you can’t kick your headaches, talk to your doctor for peace of mind — and relief.
If you feel a suspicious breast lump, it’s only natural to worry that it could be breast cancer. But a breast lump could also signal a cyst or other benign growth. In the case of a breast lump, as with any serious issue concerning women’s health, it’s essential to have it looked at promptly. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to examine your breasts and determine the cause of the lump.
Shortness of Breath
Can’t catch your breath? Shortness of breath is a common symptom in women having cardiac problems and can signal heart disease or even an impending heart attack. If you find that you’re short of breath (especially when coupled with fatigue, dizziness, and other symptoms), plan a check-up with your doctor. If you feel nauseated or have chest pain, seek immediate medical attention.
Most women have the occasional restless night, but if you’re going night after night without zzz’s, there could be a health problem affecting your sleep. Many women experience trouble sleeping as they enter menopause. Sleep disturbances — especially difficulty breathing at night — may also be a symptom in women of a cardiac event (like a heart attack), a weakened heart muscle, or even asthma. Getting ample sleep is crucial for women’s health, so talk to your doctor about what could be keeping you awake at night. You’ll rest more easily once you do.