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Health debates every woman should know (and care) about

“What age should I get a mammogram?” “How long can I wait to have children?” “Why should I pay more for health insurance?”

There are many health issues concerning women that have been up for debate for years, whether they’re related to cancer or fertility or other issues. Here are a few debates that women should know and care about.

Woman meeting with doctor

Debate: Should women be charged more for health insurance?

Some believe women should pay more for health insurance because they receive more medical care, have a longer life expectancy and use health care more than men. Others believe preventative care is crucial to women’s overall health, therefore, women should not be punished for being proactive by paying higher premiums.

How does this debate affect your retirement? states that women tend to spend more than men on out-of-pocket medical expenses in retirement. According to a 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute study, retired men spent an average of $124,000 on healthcare, while retired women spent $152,000 — $28,000 more than their male counterparts; additionally, women are more likely to need long-term care, some of which isn’t covered by Medicare. recommends that women create an emergency fund, estimate their health care costs and stay proactive about their health with routine dental and medical checkups and preventative services.

Debate: Surgery device for breast cancer

Surgeons at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center were the first in the U.S. to use new technology designed to cut down on repeated surgeries for breast cancer. The MarginProbe system is a device that reduces by half the need to re-operate and cut out breast cancer cells missed during an initial lumpectomy. It has been reported that the device could significantly improve surgeons’ odds of removing all tumor cells the first time around. According to the Orange County Register, the device has sparked a debate, and despite reports of a great reduction in the number of second surgeries, other hospitals and surgeons have been more reluctant to use the device. Why the hesitancy? It all seems to boil down to the vague definition of what a “clear margin” is.

Debate: The age women should get mammograms

The recommended age that women should begin their mammogram screening continues to differ among institutions. For example, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends routine screening at age 50 and every two years after that, while the American Cancer Society recommends that women start screening at age 40 every year. Breast cancer is less common for women in their 30s and 40s, but research shows that approximately 25 percent of new breast cancer cases each year are in women under the age of 40. Whether you choose to do a routine screening at 35 or 50, become knowledgeable about your family’s health history, take steps to reduce your risk and talk with your physician to make an informed decision about your mammogram screening.

Debate: How long can women wait to have children?

The topic of a woman’s biological clock has been a long-debated subject. Some firmly believe that women put themselves at risk of complications by waiting to have children later in life. The Atlantic recently published an article addressing the debate of how late is too late for women to have children. The author states that the “decline in fertility over the course of a woman’s 30s has been oversold” and that “most fertility problems are not the result of female age.”

So what can you do?

My Fertility Choices states the following advice for women who have concerns:

  • Know if the women in your family had infertility and when they went through menopause.
  • Know your egg count (ovarian reserve) — if your egg numbers are good, then you are likely fertile for months to years.
  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor. He/she can help you assess your ovarian reserve with a simple blood test.

More health debates

Remove both breasts or just one?
The flu vaccine debate
ADHD: The debate continues

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