10 Women’s Health Myths

Do you believe any of these? Really?

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Maybe it was information passed down to you. Or perhaps you always assumed something to be true. But it’s time to clear up a few myths about women’s health.

Myth: “Pelvic floor problems like sexual issues and leaking urine affect only older women.”

Truth: “It’s not an age or a gender-related issue,” said Liz Loycano, a doctor of physical therapy at Finger Lakes Health.

Myth: “I have had children, so leaking urine when I sneeze or laugh is just part of life now.”

Truth: “Physical therapy can definitely help that,” Loycano said. “People think about PT for their knee, shoulder or neck but the pelvis gets forgotten. They don’t realize that your pelvic floor muscles are part of your core; it’s not just the belly. You need it for breathing, posture and movement in general.”

Myth: “I’ve had ongoing issues with painful bowel movements or pain with sex since I broke my tailbone and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Truth: “It could be an injury that happened 20 years ago, but physical therapy can help,” Loycano said. “It’s another venue to go down. Medications help with pain but if you want to get to the root of the problem, there’s another option: physical therapy.”

Myth: “What I eat and drink really doesn’t affect my health all that much.”

Truth: “Your diet has a major impact on your overall health,” Loycano said. “You can’t drink however much soda or coffee and think it doesn’t affect you. It does.”

Myth: “The only way to get protein in my diet is by eating plenty of meat.”

Truth: “We teach in our clinic about the benefits of plant-based proteins as a better option,” said Trudy Arsentault, Rochester Regional Health nurse navigator, lifestyle medicine nurse and host of Wellness Wednesdays at the JCC.

Myth: “There’s so much caffeine in green tea that you should avoid it.”

Truth: “Drink caffeinated or decaffeinated green tea three times a day because the polyphenols and antioxidants are so good for you,” Arsentault said.

Myth: “Women don’t need to lift weights to be healthy.”

Truth: “Women need to work on strength training and mobility,” said Elizabeth Hornak, yoga and exercise instructor at JCC Rochester and lifelong athlete. “These are key aspects. Balance is one thing that we lose as we get older and you need strength for balance. The top reason people end up in assisted living is because they are not strong enough to transfer themselves.”

Myth: “Strength training only builds muscles.”

Truth: “Building muscle helps build strong bones and women, more so than men, are prone to osteoporosis resulting in being more likely to fracture,” said Jean Sica, owner of Kokoro Fitness and tai chi and mindful movement instructor, leading classes throughout the Rochester area. “In addition, more muscle means a healthier metabolism and more calorie burn.”

Myth: “Lifting heavy weights makes women look bulky and less feminine.”

Truth: “There are two ways to build muscle: strength training and hypertrophy training,” Sica said. “Most recreational lifters, women as well as men, don’t train in a way that would create large, bulky muscles. And it is especially difficult for most women to build muscle because women lack the required amount of testosterone needed to do so. Work with your trainer to determine whether you are seeking long sleek strong muscles or larger defined muscles.”