Making healthy lifestyle changes — such as maintaining a healthy weight, including physical activity in your daily routine, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, and seeking routine screenings and health care — may help reduce your risk of cancer.
If you're obese, you're more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems — including many types of cancer, gynecologic problems, depression, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and related health problems. Make a commitment to include physical activity in your daily routine, eat a healthy diet and monitor your weight. If you're struggling to lose weight, ask your doctor for help and support.
Seek help for substance abuse
Women who abuse alcohol are at risk of alcohol-related accidents, fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, muscle weakness and pain, and osteoporosis. Lesbian and bisexual women who use injectable drugs are at high risk of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.
If you have a substance abuse problem, remember that help is available. Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, mental health, or community centers often provide substance abuse treatment. Organizations such as the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Addiction Professionals also may provide referrals.
Smokers are more likely to develop disease and die earlier than those who don't smoke. If you smoke, take the first step and decide to quit. Then take advantage of the variety of resources available to help you successfully quit smoking.
Left untreated, depression may lead to a downward spiral of emotional, behavioral, health, and even legal and financial problems. If you think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor or seek help from a mental health provider. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, confide in a trusted friend or loved one. They can help you take the first steps toward getting treatment.
Protect yourself from HIV/AIDS and STDs
Female sexual contact is also a possible means of contracting HIV. To protect yourself:
* Get tested and have your partner tested. Don't have unprotected sex unless you're certain you and your partner aren't infected with HIV or other STDs. Testing is important because many people don't know they're infected, and others may not be honest about their health.
* Use protection. During oral sex use a split-open condom, dental dam — a small piece of latex — or plastic wrap. Keep sex toys safe by cleaning them and protecting them with a condom. Don't share sex toys. If you have sex with a male partner, use a new latex or polyurethane condom or dental dam every time you have sex.
* Be monogamous. Stay with one sex partner who has tested negative for HIV and other STDs and who won't have sex with anyone but you.
* Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and don't use drugs. If you're under the influence, you're more likely to take sexual risks. If you choose to use injectable drugs, don't share needles.
* Get vaccinated. Vaccinations can protect you from HPV and the serious liver infections hepatitis A and hepatitis B, which can spread through sexual contact.
* Remain vigilant. Remember, there isn't a cure for HIV/AIDS and many STDs, such as HPV. The best way to stay healthy is to protect yourself.