The nature of women’s health
This article covers women’s attitudes and behaviors toward their health, exploring areas of diet and lifestyle, cognitive wellness, intimate health, and sexual wellness. Lifecycle patterns and the different health challenges faced throughout the stages of womanhood mean that it is crucial that the health and wellness industry ensure an adequate portfolio of products as a form of protection, comfort, and health maintenance for women to utilize. It is important for female consumers to address and maintain their knowledge and practices around their health, and the industry is responsible to educate and support their needs. Women are looking to improve their general health and wellness to remain fit, active, and confident in the short term and to facilitate healthy aging in the long term. This concept has caused consumers to prioritize taking a proactive approach to their overall health maintenance with their future selves in mind.
Women’s attitudes towards health
73% of women cited they are taking a long-term approach to their health; when asked why almost two-thirds said this was because they wanted to stay fit and active until as late in life as possible. Another reason women said they are taking a long-term approach to health was that older age increases the risk of vulnerability to health problems. Both answers are similar in the sense that women are conscious of the impact of aging and wish to minimize the adverse effects that may occur. Two-fifths say they feel that their health has improved over the last two years; this could be a result of the pandemic, which heightened the focus on health management and influenced an influx of health-boosting habits and behaviors. This is represented through lifestyle and diet, with many taking action to achieve self-improvement.
On the other hand, one-fifth believe that their health has declined in the last two years. Influencing factors could be an aging society and unhealthy lifestyle habits. When asked why women believed their health had worsened in the last two years, more than half said they believed it was because their diet was ‘not as healthy as it could be.’ This could be due to the perception of barriers regarding healthy eating, as there are pre-existing ideas that healthy products are less appealing, more expensive, and time-consuming. Uncertainty and doubt could also contribute to why women question their quality of health and immunity, especially after the upheaval of the pandemic.
Diet, lifestyle, and habits
72% of women believe their health improved because they actively improved their diets, and 55% cited it was a result of exercising more. Increased fruit and vegetable intake was the main element women believed to improve their diets. This stat presents the notion that diet is ranked above exercise regarding the improvement of health. Possibly because it is easier to control and implement a healthy diet into a daily routine, whereas exercising takes more time, energy, and motivation. Though it is important to stay dedicated to achieving results through dieting and exercise, the effects of a healthy diet feel much more immediate and direct.
Due to the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the virus, many would have engaged in unhealthy dietary habits, like comfort eating and over-indulging, to help deal with these feelings. We may expect to see these habits re-arise during the cost-of-living crisis to pacify feelings of doubt and worry. With the increased consciousness of the rising cost of living, more women will be looking for products that align with their need states and are both tasty and affordable. To encourage healthy eating, products should be deemed convenient and easy to implement into women’s daily lives. There needs to be a more innovative approach to promote awareness around the foods, drinks, and supplements that offer additional health benefits and nutrition to support women.
Intimate health and sexual wellness
One-third of women state they suffer from vaginal health problems. Such issues can potentially impact other aspects of life beyond health, including sex lives. These problems can cause uncomfortableness and irritation and disrupt typical bodily functions, which can lead to embarrassment and anxiety. 31% of women said they have not sought out medical advice for these problems; this could lead to the potential risk of the symptoms worsening due to lack of treatment. Offering advice on how to minimize the risks of these problems and promoting good vaginal health is important to support women suffering from these issues. There are many factors that can influence vaginal health, including an imbalance of the vaginal PH; this could be a result of using the wrong skin health products down to dehydration.
The reluctancy to get help could be linked to possible social taboos and discouragement surrounding these issues, and health stakeholders must overcome these perceptions to instil confidence and resilience in women to handle these common issues; breaking down these barriers will benefit those potentially suffering to gain reassurance, trust, and comfort.
Products should be positioned around holistic health and educational awareness. It is important to ensure reassurance and safety when formulating products to encourage women to feel more comfortable about treating their bodies to promote good health and well-being. There are many stigmas and taboos surrounding women’s health that need to be addressed to minimize the risk of long-term health issues. Women need to be encouraged to seek medical advice and become aware of the resources that are easily available and accessible to them. Women should not feel complacent with their health and should be encouraged to seek, challenge, and change for the betterment of their health. Women are especially looking to enhance their health through their diet, so promoting products that offer a health boost beyond basic nutrition would be particularly appealing.
Ensure not to stereotype and aim to break withstanding stereotypes. The misconceptions around women’s health and the need states of women must be addressed, and there must be an intention to break current stereotypes. Understanding why these stereotypes and social tropes are damaging is the first step to creating solutions that allow women to feel comfortable in their bodies and address any issues they experience. Providing reassurance and awareness of current issues and encouraging safe environments to talk about health, and encouraging women to seek out medical advice and education for pre-existing and potential problems.
References and notes
Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC
- Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed
- Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 25 July 2018 Confédération paysanne and Others v Premier ministre and Ministre de l’agriculture, de l’agroalimentaire et de la forêt Request for a preliminary ruling from the Conseil d'État
- ECJ, Confédération paysanne and Others, C-688/21