The healthcare system can sometimes be a complex and confusing space to navigate, especially for women who are facing unique healthcare needs and disparities linked to their gender and socio-economic status. Each woman’s healthcare needs will look different depending on their age, reproductive status, lifestyle, and other factors such as the presence of viruses or chronic conditions.

In this blogpost, we look at these changing needs throughout the life cycle and discuss some practical tips for navigating the healthcare system while using your knowledge and awareness to advocate for your healthcare needs. We also explore some considerations that can help women find the right healthcare provider and the importance of being informed and able to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals.

Recognising women’s health needs at every stage of life

Women go through many phases and changes over their lifetime and may face a variety of unique health challenges at each stage. During puberty, young women are likely to experience acne, irregular periods, and inconsistencies in their mood linked to hormonal changes, which may pose challenges for their physical and mental health during this time.

In adulthood, a new set of challenges may arise, which may include issues like fertility problems (sometimes linked to polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis), lifestyle diseases (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease), or mental distress linked to the dual responsibility of raising a family while pursuing a professional career. In mid-to-late adulthood, a significant challenge women face is menopause, which may be accompanied by symptoms like hot flashes, irritable mood, and an increased probability of developing osteoporosis.

In addition to the many health challenges listed above, some women may also face other complications such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, viruses, and mental health disorders. These conditions may be hereditary, triggered by environmental factors, or even occur randomly. Although it may all sound rather frightening, the good news is that there’s still a lot we can do for our bodies even when we’ve been dealt a ‘bad hand’ in terms of our overall health and genetic makeup.

Proactive prevention tips

Women can be proactive about preventative care by scheduling regular health screenings and check-ups with medical practitioners. This includes getting regular breast examinations, pap-tests, bone density tests, and immunisations against viruses. On a day-to-day basis, it’s very important for women to practise healthy habits that can help them prevent common diseases or complications linked to poor lifestyle choices. Eating a balanced diet rich in fibre, protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins such as vitamin B12, C, and D (just to name a few) is essential for ensuring healthy bones, muscles, skin – and a healthy gut! Not to mention the vital importance of a healthy diet for brain functioning and mental health.

It’s extremely important that each woman gets appropriate nutrition for her daily energy requirements, and consulting a dietitian can be a great strategy for ensuring that these needs are being met. In addition to diet, it’s also crucial that women engage in a good amount of physical activity throughout their day – even if it’s just a 20 minute walk and a stretch! Physical exercise helps to maintain muscle and bone strength, improve flexibility and endurance, promote better mental health, and makes it a lot easier to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and BMI (body mass index).   

Managing menopause symptoms

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. To manage the symptoms associated with menopause, women can make lifestyle changes such as practising relaxation techniques, engaging in regular physical exercise, and eating a balanced diet. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may also be a good option for some women to consider, and this should be explored with the guidance of a medical professional. It’s important for women to remember that menopause is a natural part of life and with proper management, they can still live a happy and healthy life during this challenging time.

Knowing your options: Women’s clinics and beyond

Understanding how to navigate the healthcare system can help women ensure that they are receiving the best care possible. This includes knowing how to find the right healthcare provider, how to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals, and how to advocate for your own healthcare needs through a proactive approach.

Firstly, it’s important to find a healthcare provider who is highly knowledgeable or who specialises in women’s healthcare needs. This may include a primary care physician, a gynaecologist, or a specialist that works with very specific health conditions. When choosing a healthcare provider, it’s important to consider factors such as their educational background and level of experience, as well as their approach to care and their communication style. You may also want to consider their location, availability, and the cost of their services. Many healthcare providers now offer virtual appointments, which can be especially convenient for women who have busy schedules or limited access to in-person care.

When it comes to communicating effectively with your healthcare provider, it’s important to ask as many questions as you can and not be shy of asking anything – they’ve likely heard it all! Women should feel comfortable and safe to share their health concerns freely without fear of judgement, and may feel most at ease consulting with a medical professional who has been recommended by a friend, family member, or other women who have struggled with a similar issue.

It’s also important to be well prepared for appointments by doing research and expanding your vocabulary on the specific health issue you’re wanting to address. It may help to write down any questions you have for the doctor and to bring along a list of any medications or health concerns you may have read about. To get the best results from medical consultations, always be honest and open about your symptoms, concerns, and any changes you’ve noticed in your health. If you feel that your concerns are not being addressed, it might be a good idea to ask for a second opinion or to seek care from a different provider.

The gender health gap

For women who are facing gender-based discrimination or limited access to resources within their given context, it can be challenging to find the appropriate care and support. To overcome these obstacles, women should be proactive in seeking out healthcare providers who are especially knowledgeable and passionate about women’s health, and they may also benefit from joining movements or organisations advocating for healthcare policies that promote women’s health. When it comes to family planning, contraception, or abortion, there are women’s clinics that specialise in these different areas – which can be found either online or through referrals from mainstream medical facilities. It’s important to always talk to a trusted source when finding the right match for your needs.


Navigating the healthcare system can be daunting, but it’s an essential part of ensuring that good mental and physical health is maintained.  By being proactive about preventative care, you can find a healthcare provider that’s the right fit for you, learn to communicate your needs effectively, use technology to your advantage, overcome potential health disparities, boost overall wellbeing, and reduce the risk of developing chronic health conditions.