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Women’s Health and Safety

 

Friends can be important sources of support in working on changing health behaviors, for example, when you are trying to quit drinking or give up smoking.

 
Sexual Health

You and your friends talk about everything…including sex. Share some tips to help one another with everything from a healthy pregnancy to preventing sexually transmitted infections. Here are a few:

* No matter what age you are, the most reliable way to avoid infection with a sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex, whether anal, vaginal, or oral. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is also one of the most reliable ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Getting tested is the only way to be certain you are not infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

* If you don’t intend to get pregnant, there are several safe and highly effective methods of birth control available. If you do intend to have a baby, engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant to help ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby.

Quitting Drinking and Smoking

Friends can be important sources of support in working on changing health behaviors, for example, when you are trying to quit drinking or give up smoking. There are other sources of support too, such as:

* The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service available at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) — This service can provide you with information about treatment programs in your local community and you can speak with someone about alcohol problems. Excessive drinking is connected to numerous health problems, including harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant. Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) increases the chances of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and many other health problems.

* The state tobacco quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-855-855-7081; relay service 1-800-833-6384 — Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and your loved ones are no longer exposed to secondhand smoke—which causes many health problems in infants and children as well as adults.

Staying Safe

Encourage your friend to wear her seatbelt, and take steps to reduce falls, drowning, drug overdose, and violence and abuse. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in those up to 34 years of age.

Friends stick together no matter what, especially if one of them is being abused. Abuse is more common than some people think. Among victims of intimate partner violence, about 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. But there are resources to help.

If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

For more information please visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

Related Article: Girlfriends’ Health

Photo: mrhayata