What you may be at risk for as a female
But when it comes to your mom’s medical history, are you destined to follow suit? Are you allowed to blame your mom for the extra pounds you’ve put on or the heart disease you’ve developed?
Knowing about your mother’s health can empower you. You can know what to thank her for—like your fast metabolism or great hair—and also know what to look out for as time goes on.
“It’s important to know your mom’s health history as a female so you know your own health risks and can address those risks with your physician or provider,” says Scott & White physician Jennifer Flory, MD.
A few conditions you may inherit from your mother include:
Performing a monthly self-exam can help you be aware potential breast cancer. As you turn 40 you should have a regular mammogram. Schedule one even sooner if you are at high risk due to the women in your family.
This cancer affects the ovaries, which produce eggs in females. The cancer is seen in women ages 50 to 75 and family history is something to look for.
Early detection is crucial for colon cancer, so be sure to be screened regularly after the age of 50.
Coronary artery disease
This is the narrowing of small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart, and can cause a number of health problems. If your mom had trouble, talk to your provider of ways to help improve blood flow and reduce plaque.
Even if your mom isn’t comfortable bringing up mental health issues, try to have an honest conversation about any clinical depression or anxiety. We typically learn our coping mechanisms from our families, so be aware of the risks of bipolar disorder and other mental health issues.
Remember, we are not predetermined by our genes. Just because your mom has suffered with some health trouble doesn’t mean it’s your destiny. There are complex factors involved when it comes to health, but it’s good to know what to look for.
Genetic and Learned Behaviors from Mom
Genes are your body’s blueprint and impact how you look and how your body works. You probably know that you inherited one set of gene-carrying chromosomes from your mother and another from your father. You can inherit diseases, or a greater likelihood of getting a disease, from either parent.
However, there are other things you learn from mom that will also affect your health. These habits can be healthy or unhealthy and shape our overall outlook. For example, if your mom exercises throughout her life or chooses to eat healthy, you may be more likely to pick up on those positive behaviors.
“Many women are misguided that cervical cancer is genetic,” says Dr. Flory. “This is not true. It is actually sexually transmitted. Women also believe that if their mother is/was obese then they are doomed with the same fate. With appropriate diet and regular exercise, women can obtain and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.”
Take Time for Yourself
It’s good for your overall health to take time for yourself. This doesn’t just mean a pedicure or a day at the spa, but keeping track of your health risks and wellbeing. Don’t let yourself fall to the sidelines. Sometimes we as women can get hurried about and taking care of others, and neglect our own checkups or appointments.
Dr. Flory reminds women to remember to get appropriate cancer screenings and health maintenance screenings. She also encourages healthy diet and regular exercise. In addition to our physical wellbeing, she suggests talking to your doctor about sexual health and depression for emotional stability.