Women have their own health issues due to a complex reproductive system that makes them unique from men. A variety of diseases such as heart attack, depression, anxiety, sexually transmitted infections (STI), osteoarthritis, and urinary tract problems can affect women more severely than men. These problems necessitate them visiting their doctor in timely intervals in order to screen for various diseases. Screening tests can assess the risk of future illnesses and help in their early detection.
Areas of Women’s Health include:
Women should perform a monthly self-exam of their breasts. Any lumps or other abnormalities noted in the breasts should immediately be reported to the doctor. Depending on their risk factors for breast cancer, women over the age of 40 may need to have a mammogram performed every one to two years.
A bone density test should be performed in all postmenopausal women with fractures. Women under the age of 65, depending on their risk factors may need to be screened for osteoporosis.
Cervical Screening Test (CST)
All women between the ages of 25 and 74 years, who have ever been sexually active, will be invited to have the cervical screening every 5 years. This includes patients who have had the HPV vaccine – the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV. BMC employs an accredited Pap Smear Nurse who runs a weekly clinic.
HPV: Under the National Immunisation Programme, Gardasil 9 is available free through the school-based programme for boys and girls in year 7.
Blood Pressure Check
Women with a history of borderline or high blood pressure should have their blood pressure checked at least every year. Women with diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or other related conditions also need to have their blood pressure checked regularly.
Women aged 40 or above should get tested for diabetes every 3 years. Women with blood pressure above 135/80 will be recommended by their health care provider to check their blood sugar for diabetes.
Colon Cancer Screening
Women between the ages of 50 and 75 need to be screened for colon cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) invites Australians aged over 50 to screen for bowel cancer using a free, simple test at home. The NBCSP aims to continue to reduce deaths from bowel cancer through early detection of the disease. Additional studies may be scheduled by your doctor if you have a history of ulcerative colitis or any family history of colon cancer.
An eye examination is recommended every two years for women older than 45 or with vision abnormalities. You may need to be checked for glaucoma once you cross the age of 45.
A flu vaccine is recommended once a year. Women after the age of 19 should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination is recommended for women between the ages of 18 and 26. Women born after 1980, who have never had chickenpox, should receive two doses of varicella vaccine. Other vaccinations will be recommended by your health care provider if you are found to be at high risk for other diseases, such as pneumonia and shingles.
From time to time your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) will be checked during examinations. Depending on their risk factors, women over the age of 40 may need to undergo a physical examination once every 3 years.
Family planning and contraception
Family planning is the method of planning your family in terms of the desired number of children, and comfortably spacing your pregnancies. Family planning is achieved with the use of contraceptives. Traditional methods of contraception involve the withdrawal method, where the man ejaculates outside the woman’s vagina, and the calendar-based method, where intercourse is avoided during the fertile days of a menstrual cycle. However, there are more modern methods of contraception, which include:
- Oral contraceptive pills
- Implants containing progesterone hormone
- Injections of oestrogen and progesterone
- Intrauterine devices
- Male and female condoms
- Male and female sterilisation
Family planning has several benefits such as prevention of pregnancy-related health risks, sexually transmitted diseases (such as AIDS) and pregnancies in adolescents, slowing the growth of population and decreasing the rate of infant deaths.