Somali Refugee Women: Learn about your Health! Part 1

Somali Refugee Women: Learn about your Health! Part 1


Welcome to this video on women’s health, brought to you by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. The goal of this video is for you to learn about your body and your health, so you can make the choices that are right for you. Women often put the needs of others before themselves; but, it is important to take time for yourself to stay healthy because if you are not healthy, how can you take care of your family? Or go to school or work? In the U.S., several types of health care professionals can treat patients, such as doctors, nurse practioners, midwives,and physician assistants. In this video, we just call all health care professionals “doctor” for simplicity. Refugees often do not get regular or preventive healthcare in their home countries or in refugee camps. In the U.S.,preventive healthcare is important. We go to the doctor BEFORE we are sick. The doctor can advise us on how to prevent health problems and check us to detect if there is aproblem, even before we have symptoms. It is easier to treat health problems if they are detected early. In addition, many refugee women did not receive reproductive health education in their home countries or in refugee camps. We are pleased to have Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, an expert in refugee women’s health, guide you through some of these important topics. Hello. My name is Dr. Johnson-Agbakwu. I am a doctor trained in women’s health. I am also the Director of the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic in Arizona and have treated many refugee patients here, including many Somali women. There are many things about our bodies we should know about. I’ll cover some of these topics in this video, starting with the basics of the reproductive system. Then, I’ll move on to the topics of infections, relationships, fitness, and cancer. After that, I’ll talk about pregnancy and birth. Finally, I’ll talk about other female health issues you should be aware of. First, let’s talk about the basics of reproduction, or making babies, so you understand how pregnancy occurs and why you get your period. As you know, males and females have different body parts to make babies – these parts are called the reproductive system. For the woman, the reproductive system is on the inside of her body and the outside. The parts that are on the inside are below her bellybutton. The parts that are on the outside are between her legs. Every woman has many eggs inside of her – she is born with all the eggs she will ever have. Babies grow from these eggs. Her eggs are stored in small sacs, called the ovaries. An individual egg is very tiny, which can barely be seen with just our eyes. A baby grows in a muscular organ called the uterus. It is connected to a thick tube that leads to the outside between her legs, called the vagina. This is where the baby comes out of, as well as her periods when she is not pregnant. The process of a girl becoming a woman is called puberty. Every girl is different, but changes usually first start from the ages of 8 years to 13 years. The first change is usually breast development, followed by growth of pubic hair. This is usually followed by a rapid rise in height and weight. Finally, the girl will get her first period, usually between the ages of 9 and 16 years. Now, we’ll talk about a woman’s monthly cycle. Every woman is different, but a 28 day cycle is typical. Let’s say a woman’s period starts on day 1. The blood from her period used to be the lining on the inside of her uterus, which was there in preparation for a possible pregnancy. An egg popped out of her ovary about 2 weeks ago. But, as it made its way into the uterus, the egg did not get fertilized and so did not end up sticking to the lining around the uterus. Therefore, the lining is not needed and it falls off. She will notice blood coming out of her vagina as the lining sheds. This is her period, which will last for several days. After the bleeding stops, the uterus starts to grow another lining. At this time, her body is getting another egg ready to be released from one of her ovaries. Several hormones coming from the brain and the ovaries are controlling all of this. About 14 days later, the egg becomes mature and comes out of the ovary. The egg starts to float down the thin tube that is connected to the uterus. Now, let’s talk about the man’s role. The thick liquid that comes out of a man during sex is called semen. It has millions of his seed, called sperm. Each sperm is too tiny to see with just our eyes. If a man puts his semen inside the woman’s vagina, the sperm will go into the uterus and swim up the thin tubes. As the woman’s egg makes its way down the thin tube and meets the man’s sperm, one of these many sperm may go into the egg to fertilize it. The egg from the woman has half the material and the sperm from the man has the other half to make a baby. Together, they combine to make one whole cell, called a cell in English. One cell is usually too small to be seen with just our eyes, but all living things are made of cells. Humans are made of trillions of cells, but we all started as one cell. Once the egg is fertilized, it continues to float down the tube and starts to grow – multiplying from one cell into two cells, then four cells, and so forth. At around day 21, it arrives in the uterus as a ball of cells. The uterus now has a thick lining. If the ball of cells sticks to the lining, the lining will nourish it and won’t fall off; so, there will be no period. That is usually the woman’s first clue that she may be pregnant. The ball of cells may then grow into a baby. However, if the egg does not get fertilized, the lining of the uterus will fall off at around day 28, and the woman will get her period; the cycle will start again. Women’s health education is important for their lives, so that they can be aware of their health.

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