Importance of women’s health awareness


Collegian graphic by Yeon Ji Eom

Gracie Terrall, Copy Editor

Every morning, Grace Kramer prepares for her day by slowly eating her probiotic-rich yogurt and eggs. For Kramer, fueling her body with probiotics helps her maintain a healthy gut.

The freshman nutrition and dietetics major also starts off every morning with meditative yoga. Mindfully filling her body with nutritious foods and staying active are an essential part of Kramer’s day.

Staying healthy is the “foundation of everything we do,” Kramer said.

College is a place to try new things and to meet new people, however, many forget to keep their health in mind when they are tackling everything college throws at them. Although everyone at college has the potential of health issues, the sexual and reproductive aspects of a woman’s health puts them at a higher risk.

Due to women’s reproductive and sexual needs, they require more healthcare than men according to Mary Beth Johnson, a women’s health nurse practitioner at South Dakota State University’s Student Health Clinic; therefore, it is important that they have easy, affordable access to this care.

SDSU recognizes the need for women’s health, and the Student Health Clinic in the Wellness Center is ready to help. Above anything else, the Student Health Clinic wants to help educate women as to what steps to take for their health.

“We provide a lot of education here at Student Health,” Johnson said.  “For example, a lot of times, women don’t know they don’t need to start having a pap smear until they are 21.”

One way the clinic promotes women’s health and spreads education is by setting up health booths on main street in the University Student Union. There, they hand out informational pamphlets and hang up posters.

Many students feel that they must wait to go home before they can visit the doctor about their feminine health concerns. However, Johnson addressed this issue.

“We can do pap smears, STI screenings and breast exams. We offer all forms of birth control and can put in IUDs,” Johnson said.

The Student Health Clinic does not have physician gynecologists; however, they do have nurse practitioners that can “see, assess, order lab procedures, identify what is going on and provide treatments,” Johnson said.

Although Brookings does not have a Planned Parenthood where women can utilize these health benefits for a low cost, Brookings does have a Family Planning service within the Sanford clinic that offers similar services to people without insurance.

Johnson urges women to go to the Student Health Clinic if they think anything is wrong with their bodies.

“Women often know their own bodies best,” Johnson said.

Loran Strunk, assistant athletic trainer for South Dakota State’s women’s basketball, has similar advice for women.

Strunk sits down with female athletes before the start of each season to discuss their health and how that factors into their sports performance. She advises her female athletes to understand their bodies and listen to them.

“If you’re sore or you’re in pain, those are things you should obviously listen to,” Strunk said.

Athletes’ obligation to their team and to playing adequately includes maintaining their physical health. As for female athletes, they must take extra precautions to remain healthy, which includes their sexual health. Strunk warns her female athletes that taking antibiotics and birth control together is counteractive and can lead to unwanted pregnancies. 

Strunk also advises her athletes to stay proactive with their health and take the necessary measures to not get sick.

“As athletes, they are practicing for hours day in and day out and they get sore, they get tired, which sets them up for getting illnesses more often,” Strunk said.

For many women, college is the first time being away from home. Therefore, in the midst of the chaos, it is important to remember to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe.