Women’s Health Week is a timely reminder for women to put themselves first, even if it’s just for one week. It might be taking some time to relax or exercise or seeing your GP for a women’s health appointment including pap smear and breast check. Many women are not maintaining a healthy lifestyle because they don’t prioritise themselves. Women are better able to look after their loved ones when they look after themselves first.
The focus areas of this year’s Jean Hailes campaign will be Heart Health, Mindfulness, Bone Health, Physical Activity, Sleep and Fatigue.
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the knowledge of women’s health throughout the various stages of their lives, and to provide a trusted world-class health service for women.
The purpose of a Pap smear is to identify any abnormal cells (pre-cancerous) in your cervix that may go on to develop into cancer. At present, women between the ages of 18-69 should have a Pap smear every two years but from the 1st December 2017, this will change to the more accurate Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test where cervical screening will be conducted every five years for women aged between 25-74.
Please click here for more information about Pap Smears and the renewed Cervical Screening Program .
GAIN (Gynaecological Awareness Information Network)
GAIN (Gynaecological Awareness Information Network) is a not-for profit organisation run by volunteers who dedicate their time to creating a world where every woman has the opportunity, knowledge, confidence & support to obtain optimal gynaecological & sexual health.
There are many women suffering from conditions like Endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), fibroids, cancers of the uterus, vulva, cervix, endometrium and ovaries and many others. These topics are not openly discussed and so women often suffer in silence. For more information, please click on the link below.
Last year, I was very privileged to meet the founder of GAIN, Kath Mazzella OAM. Kath is a cancer survivor and now an advocate for gynaecological awareness. Read about her journey with cancer and the amazing things she is doing to raise awareness about gynaecological health.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australia women and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer. Women should be having two yearly mammograms between the ages of 50-74. If there is a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, then a mammogram should be done much earlier.
Symptoms of breast cancer
• New lumps or thickening in the breast or under the arm
• Nipple sores
• Nipple discharge or turning in
• Dimpling of the skin on the breast
• Rash or red swollen breasts
Please click here for more information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Osteoporosis is a disease which makes bones become brittle leading to a higher risk of breaks than in normal bone. It occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, causing a loss of bone thickness (bone density or mass). Both men and women can get osteoporosis but women are at a greater risk of developing it because of the rapid decline in oestrogen levels during menopause.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a bone density scan and anyone over the age of 50 with risk factors should be assessed.
Heart Disease in Women
Did you know that heart disease kills 3 times more Australian women than breast cancer? About 40% of heart attacks in women are fatal and many occur without prior warning. Women tend to develop symptoms of heart disease at a much later stage of the illness than men and their symptoms are often vaguer or ‘non-specific’. Women are also less likely to seek immediate help.
The risk of heart disease increases after menopause so it is very important to keep your heart healthy through lifestyle and exercise.
If you notice any unusual symptoms, please make an appointment to see your regular GP. If you don’t have one, then book an appointment with one of our experienced after-hours doctors.