A Woman's Health Quiz

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Women's Health, has designed this health quiz for you. While completing the quiz, write down any questions that cause you come concern or that you do not understand and discuss them with your health care provider. The last section of this booklet includes suggestions for talking to your health care provider that may be helpful to review before your next appointment. You also can call the toll-free Women's Health-Line at 1-888-522-1282 for suggestions about any women's health issue.

Heart Disease

Q) What is the leading cause of death in women?

  1. breast cancer
  2. heart disease
  3. accidents

A) b. heart disease
Of the nearly 500,000 heart attack deaths that occur each year, more than 239,000 are in women, and more than 91,000 women die each year of stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in American women.

Q) Which of the following risk factors for heart disease can be reduced through lifestyle changes?

  1. smoking
  2. high blood pressure
  3. obesity
  4. lack of physical activity
  5. all of the above

A) e. all of the above
All of these risk factors can be reduced by lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Other risk factors, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, can be controlled with the help of your health care provider.

Q) What causes a heart attack?

  1. blocked blood flow to a part of the heart
  2. arteries clogged by fat and cholesterol
  3. blood clots cutting off the blood flow to the heart muscle
  4. all of the above

A) d. all of the above
All of these factors can block or reduce blood flow to the heart, cutting off needed oxygen to the heart muscles. A heart attack occurs when the muscles are suddenly deprived of oxygen.

Q) How do you know for sure if you have high blood pressure?

  1. you have night sweats
  2. you have your blood pressure measured
  3. you have frequent headaches

A) b.you have your blood pressure measured
Most people with high blood pressure have no specific warning signs. The only way to know is to have your pressure checked. People who are overweight are more likely to have high blood pressure.

Q) True or False? Having your heart "skip a beat" is a sign of heart disease.

A) False.
Many people with normal heart sometimes feel their hearts skipping a beat or beating faster or slower than normal. However, these events should be discussed with your health care provider.

Breast Cancer

Q) What is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest form?

  1. annual breast exam by a health care provider
  2. doing a breast self-exam every month
  3. screening mammogram

A) c. screening mammogram
Mammograms are the single best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest form-often before a lump can be felt. However, mammograms are not perfect and some breast cancers can be missed, especially if the breast tissue is very dense. Besides having a mammogram every year stating at age 40, women also should have an annual clinical breast exam done by their health care provider and do monthly breast self exams beginning at age 20. All unusual lumps or changes, even if a mammogram is negative, should be studied further.

Q) What breast changes should be brought to the attention of a health care provider?

  1. a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm area
  2. a change in the size or shape of the breast
  3. puckering, dimpling or redness of the breast
  4. all of the above

A) d.all of the above
A change you see or feel in your breast does not automatically mean you have cancer. There are many breast changes that are normal or non-cancerous conditions. However, all changes should be reported to your health care provider.

Q) True or False? Breast cancer only occurs in older women.

A) False.
Though the chances of getting breast cancer increases as you get older, approximately 20 percent of new cases are diagnosed each year in women under the age of 50.

Q) Which of the following factors increase your risk of getting breast cancer?

  1. never having had a child
  2. a major injury or bruise to the breast
  3. being overweight
  4. having a close (first-degree) relative with breast cancer (mother, sister, daughter)

A) a, c and d.
Never having a child or having your first child after the age of 30, obesity, and a strong family history all increase one's risk. An injury to the breast or fondling of the breast does not increase risk. Almost 75 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women without any risk factors so everyone should be checked every year.

Q)True or False? Breast cancer is always fatal.

A) False.
If detected early, women diagnosed with breast cancer have a survival rate of more than 93 percent. More than 1.6 million women live with breast cancer today. Early detection also gives women more treatment options, including the possibility of saving the breast.


Q) Which of the following risk factors increase your risk for osteoporosis?

  1. smoking
  2. small body frame/ slender build
  3. diet low in calcium
  4. inactive lifestyle
  5. all of the above

A) e.all of the above
In addition to these, other risk factors include excessive alcohol drinking, increasing age, surgical or early menopause, family history and medications used to treat conditions like asthma, arthritis and hypothyroidism.

Q) What is the most common symptom associated with the onset of osteoporosis?

  1. loss of weight
  2. loss of height
  3. loss of physical strength

A) b. loss of height
Loss in height is the most common physical characteristic. The bones in the back (vertebrae) fracture and collapse as a result of the bone thinning associated with aging and, as the spine shortens, a person's overall height can be dramatically reduced.

Q) True or False? Once you have osteoporosis, there is nothing you can do but avoid injury.

A) False.
There are several new drugs on the market that either inhibit further bone loss or help to increase bone density. If you have osteoporosis, talk to your health care provider about these new therapies.

Q) What are the best sources of calcium in the diet?

  1. milk and milk products
  2. dark yellow vegetables
  3. sardines and salmon with bones
  4. whole grains and oats

A) a. and c.
Milk and milk products, like yogurt and cheese, and canned salmon and sardines with bones provide higher levels of calcium than other foods.  Dark green vegetables, like beet and turnip greens, also provide some calcium as do certain kinds of tofu.

Q) True or False?   Physical exercise can help reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis.

A) True.
Weight-bearing exercises and exercises using resistance have been shown to increase muscle strength and maintain bone density.


Q) What is menopause?

  1. the time when your periods stop permanently
  2. a normal aging process
  3. reduction in ovarian activity, including estrogen production

A) All of the above.
Although some women can start much earlier or many years later, the average age of menopause is 51.5 years.  Current smokers and undernourished women tend to experience an earlier menopause.

Q) True or False?   Perimenopause is the period immediately before menopause and extending to five years after menopause.

A) True.
During this time, many women will experience irregular menstruation, including skipped periods, light periods and very heavy periods.

Q) What are the symptoms of menopause?

  1. hot flashes
  2. mood swings, short term memory loss
  3. urinary problems, such as leaking when you cough or sneeze
  4. vaginal dryness, painful sex

A) All of the above.
Not all women experience all of these symptoms but these symptoms generally cause women to seek out medical advice.

Q) What are the most serious health concerns associated with menopause?

  1. osteoporosis (thinning, brittle bones)
  2. increased risk for heart disease
  3. hot flashes

A) a. and b.
While hot flashes are one of the more common and visible symptoms of menopause, they are not life-threatening.  Osteoporosis and heart disease are serious health problems and women should discuss with their health care provider what they can do to decrease the risk of these conditions.

Q) What can women do to reduce the symptoms and health problems associated with menopause?

  1. maintain a well-balanced diet
  2. participate in a good exercise program
  3. take hormone replacement therapy

A) All of the above.
Hormone replacement therapy can reduce some of the discomforts of menopause like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.  Studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.  However, some women cannot take hormones because of other health conditions.  Each woman should discuss the benefits and risks of hormone therapy with her health care provider and also assess her personal risk for these conditions.  Modifying your diet to include more calcium-rich foods and less fat can also help reduce the more serious health concerns associated with menopause. Weight-bearing and aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, weight lifting and dancing at least three times a week for 20-30 minutes at a time can help reduce both the short-term and long-term effects of menopause.

Mental Health

Q) What is clinical depression?

  1. a personality weakness
  2. a normal part of aging
  3. a treatable medical illness
  4. an irreversible disease

A) c.
Clinical depression is a medical illness.  The large majority of cases, including the most serious, are highly responsive to treatment, yet only one-third of people with clinical depression seek treatment.  More than 80 percent of people with depression can be successfully treated.

Q) What are the symptoms of clinical depression?

  1. persistent sadness, anxiety or nervousness
  2. sleeping too little or too much
  3. reduced appetite and/or weight loss or increased gain
  4. loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  5. feeling guilty, hopeless, worthless

A) All of the above.
In addition to these symptoms, other signs of possible clinical depression are irritability, persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, difficulty in concentrating, loss of energy and thoughts of suicide.  If you experience at least five of these symptoms for two weeks or more, you should seek the advice of a health care provider.

Q) True or False?   Men are twice as likely as women to experience clinical depression?

A) False.
Studies have shown that women are twice as likely as men to experience clinical depression.  One in seven women will be affected during her lifetime, but nearly two-thirds will not get the help they need.

Q) True or False?   Psychiatrists are the only health professionals who can properly diagnose and treat mental illnesses.

A) False.
There is a whole range of professionals who can treat mental illnesses, including social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and pastoral counselors.   Treatment may include medication, psychotherapy or both.  However, only medical doctors, including psychiatrists, can prescribe medication.

Q) True or False?   People suffering some mental illnesses may suffer from substance abuse.

A) True.
persons with mental illnesses, specifically people with undiagnosed conditions, may abuse drugs or alcohol in order to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with their illnesses.  Individuals should undergo a thorough examination by a trained professional to properly diagnose the causes for the substance abuse so that treatments can be developed to help both problems.

Domestic Violence

Q) What is the most frequent cause of injury to women?

  1. automobile crashes
  2. partner abuse
  3. muggings
  4. rape

A) b.
More women sustain injuries from physical abuse by a husband or boyfriend than from car crashes, muggings and rapes combined.  More than 4,000 women a year are killed by a current or former partner as a result of domestic violence.

Q) True or False?   Domestic violence only happens in low-income and minority households.

A) False.
Domestic violence occurs among all sectors of society, regardless of race, religious or economic status.  However, low-income women are more likely to seek assistance from public agencies and, therefore, are more likely to be counted in domestic violence statistics.  Women who seek private help often are not included in these reports.

Q) True or False?   Because everyone loses their temper at some time, most domestic violence is a single episode.

A) False.
Domestic violence usually increases over time.  Statistics show that once a woman is victimized, her chances of being injured again are high.

Q) Why would a woman stay with an abusive partner?

  1. fear--she is at greatest risk of violence when she attempts to leave
  2. she has nowhere to go and little or no resources to help
  3. due to cultural or religious beliefs, she may feel that it is her duty to keep the marriage together at all costs
  4. she wants to keep the family together for the children's sake

A) All of the above.
Many women want the violence to end but not the relationship.  They may go through many steps or stages as they try to create a violence-free life for themselves and their children.

Q) True or False?   Children who witness physical abuse in the home are more likely to have health and behavioral problems.

A) True.
Children often directly witness the physical or mental abuse going on in the home or they indirectly witness it by overhearing the episodes or seeing the resulting injuries or property damage.  In addition to various adjustment problems, children also may feel responsible for stopping the violence and protecting their mothers, sisters and brothers.   They may feel they are to blame for the violence, or they may come to believe that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.  Several studies have shown that boys who witness their mothers being abused are more likely to become abusers in their teen and adult years.

Tips On How To Talk To Your Health Care Provider

Before you go to your health care provider--

  • Make a list of your questions.
  • Ask a family member or friend to come with you.

If you have medical tests done--

  • Ask how and when you will receive your results.
  • Ask who will be available to answer any questions and when is the best time to call.

If your health care provider advises you to change your diet or lifestyle--

  • Ask how these changes will help you and what will happen if you do not make these changes.
  • Ask them to be specific about the changes.  For example, if they recommend more exercise, ask what type of exercises and how often you should do them.
  • If they suggest you lose weight, ask how much weight.
  • Ask if there are support groups or programs that you should join.

If your health care provider prescribes medicine--

  • Bring a list of all medicines you take and share it with your health care provider.
  • Ask why the medicine should be taken.
  • Ask how you should take your medicine:
       With food or without food?
       Time of day?
       How much and how often?
       Can you take it with other medicine?
  • Ask about side-effects.  What should you do if you have side-effects?
  • How long should you take the medicine?

If you are treated for a condition--

  • Ask how your progress will be monitored:
       For example, if you take drugs to lower your blood pressure, ask if you should buy a home blood pressure kit to monitor yourself.
  • Ask if you should make a chart of your progress and when you should report changes to your health care provider.
  • Ask when you should see progress and if you do not, who you should call.
  • Ask when you should return to your health care provider to be checked.

American Heart Association
American Medical Women's Association
Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Illinois Department of Public Health
Mental Health Association of Illinois
National Osteoporosis Foundation
Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization

Questions about women's health can be directed to
Women's Health Line
TTY (hearing impaired use only)800-547-0466