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This is the biggest health challenge women face in their 20s

This is the biggest health challenge women face in their 20s

Women’s 20s are typically a time of general good health, but they’re also an opportunity.

The habits women develop in this decade set the foundation for their health the rest of their lives. That includes establishing care with appropriate medical providers, learning about their family history of disease and risk factors, and becoming responsible for their health records, experts say. But it also means establishing healthy sleep, nutrition, and exercise habits and paying attention to use, and risks, of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.

Find a primary care provider

Most pediatricians stop seeing patients between the ages of 18 to 21, so most women in their 20s need to find a new primary care provider.

“There’s no more important relationship aside from your loved ones than the one you develop with a clinician,” says Stacey Rosen, a cardiologist at Northwell Health in New York. “Establishing these relationships when you’re young and presumably healthy is the most important thing you could do as a young person.”

A woman’s PCP could be an internal medicine doctor, a nurse practitioner or an OBGYN, but if it’s the latter, she’s entitled to expect more than just a pelvic exam at her visits, Rosen says. “Get a doctor you trust who knows that all your body parts are connected.”

Third in our six-part series
Most people know the basics of living healthy: eat and sleep well, exercise, schedule an annual check up, and get the recommended vaccinations. But keeping up with self-care plus getting screenings for cancer and other diseases can be daunting. “Health” also varies for women at different stages of their lives. So, we’re bringing you a women’s health series that covers the most important health issues for women in each decade. Here is the third of those, reviewing where women in their 20s should be putting their focus to live their best, healthiest life.

Given the current shortage of primary care doctors, it can feel daunting to find one you trust after leaving your pediatrician, says Yul Ejnes, an internal medicine physician based in Cranston, Rhode Island. “Making that transition can be challenging,” he says, but he recommends starting by asking friends and family for recommendations. Then, expect to spend some of that first visit providing a family and personal history, sharing any current health concerns, and sharing information about your hobbies and habits.

If you don’t already have a dentist and eye doctor, this is also the time to find a dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings and to get a baseline eye health assessment.

Establish healthy habits

Two of the biggest healthy habits to focus on are nutrition and physical activity.

Healthy eating habits include consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins in your daily diet and minimizing how much highly processed food you eat.

(How ultra-processed food harms the body and brain)

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