Ladies, you know about your big health issues — breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease — but what about the smaller, everyday health problems? You know, the ones that are fairly common but aren’t cause for major concern. Between juggling your job, family commitments, social life and any of the other thousand things on your plate, it seems like an unnecessary chore to try to get in to see your doctor for something that’s minor. So what’s a busy woman to do about a problem that’s only mildly annoying? If you’re plagued by any of these 10 common health issues, consider giving these expert-recommended fast fixes a shot.
If you find yourself getting particularly weepy (well, weepier than normal) during those ASPCA animal shelter commercials at a certain time of the month, blame it on good ol’ PMS. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (as reported by womenshealth.gov in 2014), it’s estimated that 85 percent of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. These symptoms can include acne, tender breasts, bloating or upset stomach, headaches, food cravings, mood swings, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping or tiredness. Yeah, being a woman is a real treat. But there are a few “quick fixes” you can do to lessen these symptoms. According to Alison M. Leong, M.D., “To combat PMS naturally, try decreasing your sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol intake.” Holding off on these can also help cramps if you additionally suffer from those. “Increase your exercise, calcium and vitamin B to help boost your mood and reduce PMS symptoms like depression and anxiety,” she says.
2. Menstrual Cramps
Whether you call it “a visit from Aunt Flo” or “Shark Week,” getting your period is no picnic, and menstrual cramps is one of the most common health issues that women face. To calm cramps quickly, opt for an anti-inflammatory that reduces muscle pain. Alison M. Leong, M.D., says, “Try over-the-counter pain relievers like Motrin, Aleve or Midol.” It sounds simple, but she insists these can be quite effective. Couple some OTC painkillers with a heating pad or hot-water bottle on the areas that are the most painful. After all, cramps are caused by contracting muscles in your uterus, so treating PMS cramps like you would sore muscles from a workout makes sense. If you prefer a more natural approach, Susan Lark, M.D., author of “Dr. Susan’s Solutions: The Menstrual Cramps Cure,” writes, “Sit on a comfortable carpet or pillow with the soles of your bare feet touching each other, then use your thumbs to firmly massage your arches for at least three minutes.” She explains, “This acupressure technique helps stimulate the release of endorphins, which are powerful painkilling hormones.” Note that if you regularly experience crippling pain, you should see your doctor or gynecologist to rule out conditions like endometriosis or fibroids.
3. Cold Sores
Ah, the evil cold sore! One minute, you’re rocking your favorite red lipstick for a happy hour or a hot date. The next, you discover that you’ve got a pus-filled blister living on your lip. Is it too late to cancel? While cold sores can pop up out of nowhere, they’re actually caused by the herpes simplex virus. According to research, about 90 percent of people get at least one cold sore in their life. If you’re no stranger to cold sores and usually get one due to physical or mental stress or the hormone imbalance that can be caused by your period, you don’t have go into hibernation just yet. Health care professional Dr. Jenny Tylee suggests this home remedy on Disabled World: “To heal a cold sore fast, try taking 1,000 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams of lysine in capsule supplements during an outbreak. Or you can eat high-lysine foods like meats and dairy products. And applying ice as soon as you feel that first tingle or itch will greatly reduce or delay the cold sore.”
4. Vaginal Itching
Ah, your delicate lady-flower. On a normal day, it’s a perfectly balanced ecosystem of microorganisms. But at times stress, hormones, antibiotics, soaps or other influences can upset the equilibrium and cause a common female problem that’s downright unbearable. Instead of discreetly rubbing your privates in a desperate attempt to scratch that itch away, Dr. Leong suggests this quick fix: “Just run into your nearby drugstore and pick up Monistat or Vagisil.” She adds, “You can also try a vinegar-and-water douche, or you can make your own using two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a cup of warm filtered water.” However, if the itching continues, it could be a sign of something more serious, so you should make an appointment with your doctor.
5. Water Retention
Birth-control pills. Hormone imbalances. High blood pressure. Pregnancy. All of these things can cause women to retain water and feel kind of puffy. Unfortunately, many women experience the evils of water retention with no relief other than layering on some Spanx to suck in all the liquid girth. However, there are a couple of fast, simple ways you can prevent or reduce your body’s urge to hold on to excess fluid. “One of the quickest, easiest things you can do,” says Alison M. Leong, M.D., “is drink a diuretic tea, such as green tea or dandelion leaf tea.” She adds, “If you’re prone to water retention around the time of your period, be sure to watch your salt cravings.”
6. Stomaches and Constipation
When you’re stressed out, worried or anxious, does it feel like there’s a thick rope of knots in your stomach? If so, you’re not alone. Gastroenterologist and founder of the Digestive Centre for Women in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robynne Chutkan explains to the Daily Mail that women have a longer colon than men, which makes them more apt to have intestinal problems like stomachaches, constipation and bloating. She tells Health magazine that stress is a common cause of stomachaches and suggests this acupressure trick to release feel-good endorphins and help you relax: “For five minutes gently apply pressure in a circular motion with your fingers to the area that’s four finger-widths above your navel.” Also, she says that a fast 10-minute walk can help get things moving.
7. Painful Intercourse
Clearly, women dig doin’ it. But there are times when it’s less “yes, yes, oh God, YES!” and more “OUCH!” This can definitely put a damper on your sex life. If you’re a woman who’s experiencing painful intercourse and you don’t have endometriosis (a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus starts growing in other areas), Alison M. Leong, M.D., says that maybe your issue is simply a lack of lubrication. Her fast fix? Hit up the lube aisle at your local drugstore. Leong says, “You can use K-Y Jelly or other water-soluble lubricants and see if that makes things feel less painful and more pleasurable.” One small bottle of lube could be the magical game changer you need.
Rocking a new pair of heels can make you feel like a vixen on wheels. But when it comes to breaking them in, it can be a struggle just to make it to lunchtime without limping like a wounded deer. According to experts at Reader’s Digest, putting a bandage on a heel can rub as you go, making the pain feel worse. Instead, they suggest, “Put a gauze square over the actual sore, then cover your heel with a wide strip of duct tape and you’ll be back on the road.”
There’s nothing better than getting a restful night’s sleep, but, sadly, according to a National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll of all adults, this is a distant dream for many women. In fact, women are more likely than men to have difficulty falling and staying asleep. So besides downing ZzzQuil in the middle of the night and risking feeling groggy in the morning, what’s a sleepy lady to do in a pinch? Well, often, we lie awake because we can’t shut off our brains. If this is the case, psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen writes in QuickandDirtyTips.com, “If you can’t stop thinking about your to-do list, write it out. Or get up and do something nonstimulating, such as filling out a crossword or reading a book (the paper kind). Avoid your laptop, tablet or smartphone. The blue light emitted from the screen suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps sleep.”
You’ve probably heard inspirational quotes about how you should be proud of your scars. That’s fine and all — unless you want to hide them because the less-than-noble story behind them involves a steak knife or your fickle cat. If you’re dead set on helping your scar heal, heed this quick fix from Prevention magazine: “Contrary to popular belief, scabbing is not ideal. Instead, keep it moist with petroleum jelly and a bandage for three to five days. Overnight, put cellophane tape over the jelly. Tape keeps water trapped in the skin better than breathable bandages, encouraging healthy collagen growth.”