Cooking, cleaning, in-laws, children’s homework, an absent maid—just a few of the many thoughts that clog a working woman's mind. She straddles home and work and keeps everyone happy, often at the expense of her own health. A recent survey called ForEve, conducted among 200 women executives by Dr L.H. Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai, revealed that hormonal issues (22 per cent), mental health (19 per cent), reproductive issues (14 per cent) and cancer (12 per cent) were the top areas of concern for women.
Along with the survey, the women also spoke to a few doctors. Says Dr Anita Soni, a gynaecologist at Dr L.H. Hiranandani Hospital: “There are more young women complaining about heavy and irregular periods, problems in conception, miscarriages, severe anaemia, thyroid issues and pre-diabetes.” Many of these problems stem from a busy lifestyle and bad eating habits. Exercising for just one hour a day should be beneficial, says Soni.
“Working women skip breakfast, do not exercise, don’t get enough sleep and most of them do not take care of their health,” says Dr Bandita Sinha, senior consulting gynaecologist and obstetrician at Apollo Clinic and Fortis Hiranandani Hospital. “This is why we are seeing more young patients than old.” She says problems like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), obesity and thyroid issues are common among women. As women prioritise their careers and push back marriage and pregnancy, they also have difficulty conceiving. “I would recommend a hormonal assessment test to know the status of their reproductive health. This will help them plan their pregnancy,” she says.
Endocrinologist Anurag Lila, who talked to the women executives, agrees. “Thyroid issues are easier to treat than PCOS as those are managed well by medicines. There are lifestyle changes that are needed to cure PCOS, which many find it difficult to follow,” he says. While they know the importance of eating healthy and staying fit, most women say they don't have the time to follow a healthy lifestyle. More than 40 per cent said they travel for more than two hours daily and 93 per cent said they sleep for less than eight hours a day.
Physical ailments aside, the survey showed that 19 per cent are concerned about their mental health. Psychiatrist Harish Shetty, who interacted with the women, said most of them were insecure about their jobs, had no future roadmap, had relationship issues and had difficulty managing expenses. “Many of them suffered from palpitation, tiredness, feeling of worthlessness and sadness. Yet, very few companies have mental health professionals to help their employees,” he says. The stigma regarding mental health problems still exists and most employees are not comfortable revealing their problems at work. Shetty says it is time companies looked after their employees' mental and emotional health.