6 Things Women Do That Harm Their Health

You sleep seven hours a night, watch your caloric intake and break a sweat several times a week, but before you proclaim yourself a vision of good heath, take a look at your daily habits. Surprisingly, some common practices can be harmful to your health.

1. Wearing tight fitting jeans, or trousers

Skinny, tight pants can spell trouble for your womanliness. 'It's really common for some women to get recurring yeast infections [with tight pants],' says Dr. Unjali Malhotra, a women's health specialist from Vancouver. The restricted quality of the trousers along with the heat and moisture that they create can leave you feeling itchy and sore. To steer clear, Malhotra recommends wearing looser fitting clothing or sleeping without underwear to give the area a chance to breathe.

2. Wearing high heels

Sexy, fashionable footwear can lead to an ugly assortment of health ailments. According to Peter Guy, a professor at Toronto's Michener Institute, and a chiropodist in Whitby, Ont., habitually wearing sky high heels can change the way you walk, create pain in your back and knees, shorten your calf muscles, and stiffen and thicken the Achilles tendon that runs down the back of your heel. 'High heels will make bunions - a protrusion of bone and soft tissue on the side of your foot - appear faster, and because your toes are squeezed in the shoe's front, you can get hammertoes, ingrown toenails and corns,' he says. If these painful, unattractive conditions weren't enough to make you kick off your heels, these problems could also make you an early candidate for arthritis in your feet. To lower your risk, Guy suggests alternating your footwear. Wear one heel height one day, don a lower heel the next, and try flats after that, but don't jump straight from a three-inch heel to flats. 'If you quit heels cold turkey, you'll have heel pain,' he says.

3. Using old prescriptions, or sharing meds with others

Have you ever popped a pill from an old prescription, or downed a tablet given to you by a girlfriend? Taking medications that are old, or not yours can raise your risk for a surprise allergic reaction, or an unhealthy interaction with other medications that you may be taking. Instead of alleviating symptoms, a visit to the ER could be in store.

'People should be assessed by a doctor for a correct diagnosis before they start a medication so they know that they're taking the right one, and that it's safe to use,' says Malhotra. And if you decide to re-start an old prescription such as one for birth control pills, book a consultation with your doctor to make sure that your medical situation hasn't changed, and that it's still the best option for you.

4. Taking the Pill, but skipping condoms

'The only contraceptive method that offers protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is the male, or female condom,' says Malhotra. By forgoing condom use, women are leaving themselves exposed to STIs such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia that if left untreated can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy and fertility issues. Add a condom to your intimate repertoire and lose the STI fear factor.

5. Wearing coloured contact lenses

Want to make your brown eyes blue? Think twice before donning cosmetic, non-corrective contact lenses. These accessories - typically sold without a prescription or a proper fitting by an eye health specialist at costume shops or online - can lead to blindness. 'These lenses can produce corneal ulcers than can quickly lead to internal ocular infection and permanent loss of vision if left untreated,' says Dr. Paul Rafuse, president of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society's Board of Directors. 'These conditions can lead to blindness. No one should wear cosmetic lenses from a retail outlet without a prescription and professional oversight.'

In December 2012, Bill C-313 was passed into legislation classifying cosmetic lenses as medical devices. This law means that coloured lenses must be approved and licensed by Health Canada , and distributors will require a special licence to sell them.

6. Being careless with tampons

It may sound surprising, but some women forget to remove their tampons at the end of their period. 'We often have women come in with an abnormal odour or bleeding, and find a tampon has been left inside,' says Malhotra. 'It can cause serious infections, or toxic shock syndrome.' To save yourself the embarrassment, and the health risks that a forgotten tampon can create, Malhotra recommends inserting a finger into your womanliness after your period has finished to guarantee that it's a hygiene product-free zone. A little extra care is worth it especially when it comes to avoiding toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening bacterial infection characterized by high fever, vomiting, low blood pressure, headaches and confusion.



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