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To Your Health: the Impact of Texting on Women's Health

Using text messaging to improve health isn't new, and we've written about it time and again. But as those seeking to enhance health, wellness, and medicine turn to texting more and more to further their ends, an increasingly exciting and specific array of SMS applications emerges. One particularly significant and interesting branch of texting to improve health takes the form of using texting to bolster women's health, an often undercut but very important sector to women and all those who have women in their lives.

A major area of women's health is prenatal and maternity care, a necessity for a healthy pregnancy and, in the end, a healthy baby. While pregnant, one should take measures to ensure their best possible physical and mental health including ending health-compromising habits, eating a specific diet rich in certain vitamins, and regularly visiting doctors for routine screenings, for a start. It's a lot to keep track of, but that's where texting comes into play.

A small greater Boston area study in 2012 piloted the use of text messages to keep 25 women with an average age of 22 updated on prenatal health throughout their pregnancies. Texts were customized based on date of enrollment, stage of pregnancy, and the language preference of the women. Texts provided informational tips, motivational words, reminders, encouragement of prenatal or postpartum care, and helped connect women to their clinical teams. 95% of the patients reported that they found the texts helpful.

Outside the realm of research studies, services like Text4baby offer similar care. Not only pregnant women and new moms, but other parents and friends or relatives of pregnant women can sign up with Text4baby to receive customized texts about care and health during and/or after pregnancy.

For those not looking to become pregnant, birth control pills enjoy enormous popularity among women; according to the CDC, 10.6 million women of reproductive age use oral contraceptives. The pill is not only an effective contraceptive, but an important medication many women use to help with various other problems like acne, endometriosis, highly unpleasant or irregular periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome, migraines, and some cancers. In short, birth control and birth control compliance are very important to millions of American women.

With most pills having to be taken every day at the same time, it is easy to forget to take a pill, and missing even one dose can disrupt the pills' efficacy. Texting offers a simple solution: birth control users can receive a daily reminder text at their chosen time to keep them covered should they forget. Apps like Bedsider and myPill offer an easy, user-friendly way to subscribe to daily reminder text messages as well as reminder texts when users must place a call to their provider.

Text messaging can also be used as an effective reminder system for a variety of other health actions women should take. There are a number of regular screenings women should undergo, such as mammograms and pap smears, to ensure they stay healthy. Women can opt to receive text messages reminding them to schedule and attend such screenings, keeping them from forgetting to make, or worrying about forgetting to make, their appointments. With the presence of SMS always growing in health and medicine, the possibilities for advancing the oft-neglected realm of women's healthcare are promising.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 


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