Doctor warns of women putting their own health needs aside: 'Overwhelming'

Today is International Women’s Day, and while people everywhere celebrate the special women in their lives, whether that’s their nurturing mum, badass bestie or talented daughter, there’s evidence to suggest that the ladies in your life may be forgetting to prioritise their own health needs over the needs of others.

And the results can be devastating.

Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OBGYN and Organon Health Partner, says women are exhausted and find it harder than ever to care for even their most basic health needs in the wake of the pandemic.

Closeup of sad young Asian woman at cafe leaning head on clasped hands and staring into vacancy. Tired freelancer feeling burnout. Stress and bad news concept
Women are exhausted and are finding it harder than ever to care for even their most basic health needs. Photo: Getty

“The pandemic made this issue more acute,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Too often women put their own health needs aside (prioritising the wellbeing of others over their own) and as a result, women are more burned out than ever before and well visits have dropped dramatically.”


Well or wellness visits are also known as gynaecological exams, pelvic exams, annual exams, or well-woman exams. For people that have a vulva, breasts, or a uterus, these visits are an important part of taking care of your health.

The Stats on Women and Burnout

A staggering 78% of women say they usually put their healthcare needs aside because they’re caring for others, and 44% of older women said they waited until a health symptom became urgent before scheduling an appointment – and that number jumps to 62% for women aged 20-34.

Women’s well visits were also down 20% compared to both 2019 and 2020.

Dr Shepherd
Dr Shepherd says Women’s well visits were also down 20% compared to both 2019 and 2020. Photo: Supplied

“During the pandemic, women have also exited the labor force at twice the rate that men have; their participation in the paid labor force is now the lowest it has been in more than 30 years,” explains Dr Shepherd.

“During a time of widespread illness, women are more distracted by managing the conditions of their loved ones.”

A new social poll with The Skimm and Organon (a global women’s health company) found that while 80% of 1,200 participants set goals to prioritise their health this year, nearly 60% who had hoped to keep up with regular doctors appointments did not, due to it being, “just plain overwhelming.”

“Nearly 30% of participants cite work and back-to-back meetings are to blame for not prioritising routine doctors appointments,” says Dr Shepherd.

Helping Women Prioritise Their Health

Dr Shepherd explains healthcare professionals can play an important role in helping to close the gap.

“By maintaining an open dialogue with patients and reminding them to make annual appointments, providers can help patients to prioritise routine care," she stresses.

"And as female providers, we also need to prioritise our own health as well – not just our patients or our loved ones who often take priority.”

Top Tips To Prioritise Your Health

Dr Shepherd says that one of the ways to prioritise health is to find things to make it less complicated and not time consuming.

“The truth is that making healthier choices every day doesn’t require excessive amounts of time and will yield great results in the future," she adds.

"Make health goals that are attainable and sustainable, and find health care providers that are aligned with your goals for your health.

Young woman learning dance moves in fitness class. Multi-ethnic women dancing in studio.
Make health fun and easy. Photo: Getty

"You can even make your birthday a day for your check-ups and screening exams!”"

Organon, a global women’s health company, offers a helpful tool on its website for women to determine what doctor’s appointments they should prioritise based on their age.

And don’t forget to simply celebrate being a woman today-we deserve it.

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