Hesperian Health Guides

Deciding to Use Medicine

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 31: Use of Medicines in Women's Health > Deciding to Use Medicine

See the chapters called Solving Health Problems, and The Medical System for more information to help you decide if you need to take medicine.

Some people think that you always need medicine to get good health care. But medicines can only treat health problems—not solve the conditions that cause them. And not all health problems are best treated with medicine. For some, drinking lots of liquids and resting are most important. A medicine should be used only if you know what the problem is and that the medicine will work for that problem.

To decide whether or not you need a medicine, think about these things:

  • How serious is my illness?
  • Can I get better without this medicine?
  • Can I get better by changing my living or eating habits?
  • Is there a traditional remedy that works?
  • Are the benefits of using this medicine greater than the risks and costs?
a woman taking pills with a glass of water

Harmful uses of medicines

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Medicines are used to fight dangerous illnesses, but medicines have their own dangers. Used improperly, medicines can hurt or even kill you. These are some common examples of ways medicines can be misused in women’s health:

This page was updated:23 Oct 2019