By QuitNet team member Corrie Mook
May 13-19 is National Women’s Health Week, and a time to be reminded of the positive decisions that women can make for the sake of their health. From joints and gums to bones and stomachs, smoking affects nearly every aspect of a person’s body. Women who smoke face additional risks, and acknowledging these during Women’s Health Week can be an important reminder about the many reasons to quit for good.
Give your body a break
Some studies show that female smokers have more painful and irregular periods. They’re more likely to go through menopause at a younger age, and may experience worse symptoms of menopause. After menopause, women who smoke have lower bone density than non-smokers. Women who smoke are also more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis, which causes swelling and joint pain.
Have a healthy pregnancy and birth
If you hope to become a mom, you should know that smoking comes with some big risks. Smoking may make it more difficult to become pregnant and can cause pregnancy complications. If you smoke during your pregnancy, you have a higher risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Your baby is more likely to be born early and have birth defects, low birth weight, and impaired brain development. The risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is also higher for babies whose mothers smoke. The best thing you can do if you’re pregnant or considering becoming pregnant is to stop smoking.
Create a healthy environment for yourself and your children
Kids are more perceptive than they may seem. Even when we don’t think our children are watching, they’re looking at parents to model healthy behaviors. Research has shown that children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to become smokers as adults, and secondhand and thirdhand smoke can have serious health consequences. Help give your kids the healthiest start to life by quitting smoking, and staying quit.
Enjoy other forms of self-care
For many, a cigarette break is a quiet moment to step away from daily responsibilities and unwind. Life can be demanding, and we all need moments to rest - but practicing other relaxation strategies can be just as effective and not carry the harmful effects of smoking. Instead of stepping out for a cigarette break, try taking a short walk, practicing a breathing or meditation exercise, journaling, or enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in solitude. Many change up their morning routines by drinking their coffee in a different place and scrolling through QuitNet instead. Finding ways to reflect and reset are important for everyone, and they can be done without an accompanying cigarette. Your health and the health of those around you will be better for it.
During Women’s Health Week, prioritize your health and do whatever is necessary to quit smoking. Think about how proud you’ll feel in the presence of your friends and family without thinking of the next time you can have a cigarette. With the right resources and supports, you can join the millions of women who have turned away from tobacco and embraced a smoke-free life.