Role of Nurses in Women’s Health
As their presence in the labor market has increased, women have faced major changes in their roles, lifestyles, and family patterns. Moreover, they have encountered environmental hazards and stress, prompting them to focus greater attention on health and health-promoting practices. As a result, some women are taking a greater interest in and responsibility for their own health care.Many others do not have the time, finances, or other resources to do so. Other changes over the years have included delaying pregnancy and childbearing until well after a career is established.Various methods of contraception have made this option possible. Advances in the treatment of infertility have enabled many women previously unable to have children to become pregnantand have extended the period of possible childbearing for couples well beyond their 40s. As women exercise greater control over their health care options, nurses are becoming more knowledgeable about preventive care for women, particularly with regard to their unique needs. The nurse encourages women to determine their own health goals and behaviors, teaches about health and illness, offers interventional strategies, and provides support, counseling, and ongoing monitoring. Areas of special interest in health promotion include the following:
• Personal hygiene
• Strategies for detecting and preventing disease, especially sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
• Issues related to sexuality and sexual function, such as contraception; preconceptional, prenatal, and postnatal care; sexual satisfaction; and menopause
• Diet, exercise, and other health-promoting practices that maintain and enhance health
• Avoidance of stressful and abusive situations that are detrimental to health and well-being
• Maintaining a normal weight for height and avoiding substance abuse and smoking
• Avoidance of unhealthy lifestyle and risk behaviors Nurses who promote healthy ways of living also need to model that lifestyle for their patients.
An important role of the nurse is promoting positive practices and behaviors related to the reproductive and sexual health of each patient, including the following:
• Providing information about scheduling regular examinations to promote health, detect health problems at an early stage, assess problems related to gynecologic and reproduc-tive function, and discuss questions or concerns related to sexual function and sexuality
· Providing an open, nonjudgmental environment; this is crucial if the patient is to feel comfortable discussing per-sonal issues. The nurse must convey understanding and sen-sitivity when discussing these issues and must assess their effects on the patient and the patient’s partner.
· Recognizing signs and symptoms of abuse and screening all patients in a private and safe environment
· Recognizing cultural differences and beliefs and respecting sexual orientation and concerns related to both
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