Women’s Health


Women’s health is important. It is recommended that women visit their health care professional at least once a year or attend regular health check-ups. Women have specific needs regarding their health through various stages of their life.

For health service providers to offer preventatives, spread awareness, manage illnesses or to ensure the improvement of women’s health, it is important that women know the options available to them and are aware of the approaches and treatments that can be used if they are to incur an illness or to wish to maintain their health.

Some health checks for women can include pregnancy check-ups, cervical screening, STI screening and weight checks. Seeing your health service provider for your health is likely the step to identifying and fixing or managing the problem.

Women’s reproductive health issues like menopause, menstruation issues, and pregnancy management are a rising concern for health care professionals. It is important that you are honest and open with your doctor, so that they can help you with your health and wellbeing and to ensure that any concern you have regarding your health issues are met with care and professionalism.

With 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in females in Australia. Regular breast checks, knowing the symptoms, early intervention, prevention and treatments are all options that women can seek to lower the chances of developing or lower the chance of losing the battle with breast cancer. It is important that if you notice any changes, lumps or pains in your breasts that you seek the advice of your health care provider.

Some women’s health issues can be related to lifestyle factors, hormonal factors, age or injury. Your GP will discuss with you any concerns that you have regarding your lifestyle habits and may suggest changes to make sure that you can be on track to be the healthiest you.

Women can be tested for high cholesterol, attend general check-ups, blood pressure checks, testing for heart disease or bowel issues and can be treated for diabetes and bone density problems or mental health issues.

It is important that if you are suffering from an illness or have any questions regarding your health that you contact us. If you are faced with an emergency, please call 000. If you or someone you know is suffering mental health issues or wants to speak to a professional regarding their mental state, they can contact us or call Accessline on 1800 011 511.

 

Cervical Screening

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers with regular health checks. The occurrence and mortality rate for cervical cancer have halved in Australia since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991. It is advised by health professionals that you take part in this program to reduce your chance of cervical cancer. Regular cervical checks are the best preventative methods and is predicated to save the lives of up to 30% more women.

The Cervical Screening Test is a simple test to check your cervical health. The Cervical Screening Test process has undergone changes to recognise the introduction of the vaccine for strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which, is the cause of most types of cervical cancers. The new cervical screening tests are designed to collaborate with the HPV Vaccination Program to help reduce the occurrence of cervical cancer.

As of December 2017, the changes that have occurred with the National Screening Program for women include-

  • The Cervical Screening Test has replaced the pap test and is more accurate and reliable

  • The new Cervical Screening Test now looks for HPV, not just abnormal cells

  • More regular testing- Better and more regular testing means that you will only need to be tested every five years after your last pap test

  • The starting age of the Cervical Screening Test is now 25 rather than 18

  • If you have previously had a pap test, the HPV screening test should be undertaken 2 years after your first pap test

  • Patients aged 70- 74 will be invited to have testing

If you are due for a cervical screening, please contact us.

 

Breast Checks

Breast checks can detect cancer before there are any signs and symptoms and can save your life.

Self-examinations of the breasts allows for you to notice if changes occur. Its is recommended that women aged 20 and higher perform breast checks at least once every month to familiarise themselves with the feel, shape and appearance of their breasts, so that any changes do not go unnoticed and can be reported to your health care provider.

Changes to look for in your breasts can include.

  • Changes in breast shape

  • Lump or lumps in the breasts

  • Changes in the colour of your breasts or nipples

  • Nipple discharge

  • Persistent breast pain

  • Swelling or discomfort in breasts or armpits

  • Persistent and unusual pain that is not related to menstruation, especially, if this pain remains in one breast only

Breast Self-Examination.

Step 1

To give yourself a breast assessment you should begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your hands on your hips and your shoulders straight. Check to see if your breast is evenly shaped and without distortion or swelling. Next, it is important for you to assess the colour, size and shape of your breasts to make sure that they are usual for you. Check for dimpling, redness, soreness, changes in nipples or puckered or bulging skin.

Step 2

Raise your arms above your head and check for the same symptoms as you did in Step One.

Step 3

Whilst continuing to look in the mirror, look for signs of fluid or discharge coming from one or both of your nipples.

Step 4

The next step is for you to feel your breast whilst you are laying down. Use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use the first few finger pads of your hand to do this and keep the fingers flat and together while using a circular motion. The motions should be done in the size of a coin.

Follow this pattern to ensure you check your whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger circles until you reach the edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down, in rows. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts. For the skin and tissue just beneath and to the middle of your breasts use light pressure or medium pressure. Use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.

Step 5

The last step is to feel your breasts while you are in the standing or sitting position. This can be easiest to do when you are in the shower. Cover the entire breast in the same motions as you did in Step 4

If you do notice any of these changes, it is important you talk to your local GP and have tests done to determine the causes of these symptoms.

The health service provider will initially give you a breast examination and send you for a mammogram.

Mammograms are breast x-ray screenings that show breast changes that are too small for you or your doctor to examine. Mammograms are used to check for signs of breast cancer in women who have no symptoms and for women who are experiencing breast cancer symptoms or have found suspicious lumps in their breasts. During a mammogram the breasts are pressed between two x-ray plates to spread the breast tissue so that the x-ray pictures will give a clearer image. Both breasts are x-rayed, and the process is uncomfortable. The mammogram will last around 20 seconds.

Mammograms are beneficial to breast cancer survival rates as they can detect the cancer early and can reduce the morality rate by 34- 50%.

If the mammogram finds signs of breast cancer, treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy or surgery are all viable options that your health care provide will talk through with you.

The survival rate and treatability of breast cancer is much better with the mammograms and breast screening services.

 

Antenatal Shared Care

Antenatal shared care is relationship building between the patient and their health care professional during pregnancy. This means that your pregnancy is shared between your family doctor, paediatrician, midwife and chosen hospital. This provides you with flexible appointments and continuity of care throughout and after the pregnancy. The allowance of building a relationship with your health service provider will see you being taught or assisted with breast feeding techniques, settling techniques and other support for months after the birth of your child and for every pregnancy you choose to be a part of the program.

The antenatal shared care program is suitable to patients who do not have any medical conditions that require specialist obstetric care. If issues arise during your pregnancy, your health service provider will assist you in speaking with the relevant health services and will likely refer you to specialist care so that you and your baby are getting the best care possible.

These factors are unsuitable for antenatal shared care and will require other health service professional guidance.

  • History of stillbirth or miscarriages

  • Triple or twin pregnancy

  • HIV or Hepatitis C

  • Autoimmune disorders and diseases

  • Heart disease

  • Endocrine issues

  • Mental health issues that require medications

  • Blood pressure problems that require medication

  • Diabetes requiring medication or gestational diabetes (Diabetes during pregnancy)

  • Blood disorders and on medication

  • Epilepsy and on medication

  • Severe asthma and on medication

  • Cancer or other malignant diseases within the last 3 years

  • Premature babies or likelihood of premature birth

  • Babies born under 2500 grams or larger than 4500 grams

  • C- section or myomectomy

  • Serious mental health crisis after the birth of your child

  • Complications requiring an obstetrician in previous pregnancies