Nearly 30% of Moms Neglect Their Own Medical Care

Nearly 30% of Moms Neglect Their Own Medical Care

Women who are responsible for children are more likely than single women to sacrifice their own healthcare needs.

The PYMNTS Intelligence report “2024 Women’s Wellness Index,” based on surveys with more than 10,000 U.S. consumers, found that women tend to prioritize the healthcare of their loved ones over their own.

For instance, women who live alone have higher levels of overall wellness than those who also care for children. Because of the increased responsibilities that come with motherhood, moms are less likely to seek preventative medical care for themselves and allocate a smaller portion of their own income toward their personal health.

With limited time and a greater portion of their health spending prioritized on the wellness of others, mothers end up being less proactive about their health and wellness than other women, the report found. This neglect of their own health maintenance comes at a cost in the form of poorer health later in life.

Nearly 83% of women without children seek routine, preventative care regularly. However, mothers were 14% less likely to do the same. Just 71% of moms get preventative medical care, while about one-quarter only seek care in the case of a problem or emergency. Moms were also 6.5% less likely to get regular preventative dental care than single women without children.

How women seek out health and wellness servicesMeanwhile, single women without children were 16% less likely to seek preventative help for diet and nutrition and 20% less likely to engage in exercise services. They also sought slightly less preventive care for alternative health or fertility treatments than women with children. Both groups sought similar levels of preventative care for mental health, suggesting that women with kids and those without both see the need for mental healthcare.

Taken with additional findings included in the report, a trend is clear: Mothers are seeking less preventative care and reporting worse health as a result. The contrast between women with children and single women without children (who show a greater propensity toward seeking healthcare services) helps to identify a detail that plays a role in this shift: household composition.

“The 2024 Women’s Wellness Index” found that women’s responsibilities to others in the household only further impede their ability to prioritize their own health. In many cases, women still feel pressure to live up to traditional, gendered expectations about taking care of others — including partners.

Although gender roles and responsibilities continue to evolve, some of these implications suggest that a continued evolution concerning traditional expectations would likely contribute to better overall health outcomes for U.S. women.