Women’s Health: What women worry about most

Women's Health Week 2016

Women can be good talkers, but when it comes to women’s health, we often don’t take the time to ask questions, seek out credible information and work on a sound plan of action.

As a result, many women have many fears and unanswered questions regarding their health.

 

Women’s Health Survey

Earlier this year, the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health talked to thousands of women across Australia to find out their greatest health fears and concerns. The result: a comprehensive survey that offers unique insights into women across the nation. It’s the only one of its kind in Australia.

The survey found the top five health concerns for Australian women are:

  • Weight management (23 per cent)
  • Cancer (17 per cent)
  • Mental and Emotional Health (15 per cent)
  • Menopause (9 per cent)
  • Chronic pain (8 per cent).

 

Women’s Health Week 2016

The survey is one of the largest national surveys in Australia with over 3,200 women and health professionals taking part. The unique insights gained through the survey have formed the basis for the annual Women’s Health Week, running from 5-9 September, 2016.

This is a week dedicated to all women across Australia, to focus on health, learn more and take action.

This year’s theme is Am I Normal?

It’s a question every woman asks at some stage of her life. During the five days of Women’s Health Week, topics will focus on:

  • Monday: What’s normal?
  • Tuesday: Body image – you are your own worst critic
  • Wednesday: Healthy weight – know the three Ss
  • Thursday: Mental health – what can you do?
  • Friday: Let’s talk about sex

This free, online health event will provide practical tips, resources and tools, as well as motivating videos and health advice from the experts.

To be involved, simply head over to the Women’s Health Week website, and subscribe.

And as a way to support the event, Write to the Point Communications will be bringing you a host of content specifically surrounding women’s health. To ensure you don’t miss a post, “like” us on Facebook, and subscribe to all notifications.

Further information about the event can be found at Women’s Health Week.

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Endometriosis — what you need to know

illustration of woman and yellow ribbon for EndometriosisDuring March, you may see many women wearing yellow. March into Yellow is a movement aimed at raising awareness of and starting a conversation about a condition that affects between five to ten per cent of menstruating women around Australia — endometriosis.

 

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis (pronounced en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is disorder where tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. This endometrial tissue grows within the pelvic region, often affecting the ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining the pelvis.

This tissue acts just like the tissue within the uterus — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because there is no way for this tissue to leave the body, it becomes trapped, often causing pain. Sometimes surrounding tissue can become irritated and may develop scar tissue and adhesions, which bind organs together.

Endometriosis can be extremely painful and may cause infertility. Unfortunately, the exact cause is unknown.

 

What are the symptoms

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary, depending upon where endometrial tissue is located. Typical symptoms may include:

  • Painful periods
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain, not related to menstruation
  • Heavy periods, clotting, long periods, irregular periods or premenstrual spotting
  • Ovulation pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain in the lower back, thigh or leg
  • Bowel problems including painful bowel motions, diarrhoea, constipation or bleeding from the bowel
  • Trouble getting pregnant.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, speak to your doctor. You may not have endometriosis, but it is worth investigating, particularly if the quality of your life is suffering.

 

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Unfortunately, an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis can take some time, with the average length of time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis being seven years. This is because some women may feel that their symptoms are a normal part of their menstrual cycle. Sometimes doctors may initially attribute symptoms to other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, kidney stones, irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis or stomach ulcers.

Diagnosis is made via a laparoscopy — a surgical procedure involving inserting a long, thin telescope (laparoscope) into the abdomen through a cut near the navel. Gas is pumped into the abdomen to separate the organs, enabling the surgeon to look for signs of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is classified in stages from stage one (mild) to stage four (severe), according to its location and depth.

 

How is it treated?

There are many options for treatment, all of which are based on the severity of symptoms, location of the displaced endometrial tissue, the woman’s age and the outcome the woman wishes for (e.g. improved fertility, pain relief)

There are three main ways to treat endometriosis:

  1. Medications, including hormonal and non-hormonal treatments
  2. Surgical treatment to remove endometrial lesions and adhesions
  3. Complementary treatments including physiotherapy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, nutrition, homeopathy and clinical psychology to assist with pain relief.

 

What can you do?

There are several things you can do to help raise the awareness of endometriosis.

You can wear yellow durimarch into yellowng March to start a conversation, or head on over to March Into Yellow  to change your profile picture to yellow for the month.

You can share information about endometriosis via your social media platforms.

You can take up the March into Yellow Challenge and ask friends and families to sponsor you, to help raise funds for awareness, education and research.

 

For further information about endometriosis, visit Endometriosis Australia

To get involved visit March into Yellow.

 

 

Health checks that may save a woman’s life

female doctorLet’s face it, we all live busy lives. Sometimes a visit to your doctor for a check-up seems like more trouble than it’s worth, especially when you are juggling so many other things.

However, a regular check-up could just save your life.

Here are some of the most common screening tests that can make a difference to women’s health.

Breast screening

Early detection of breast cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. Breast cancer can be detected by a clinical breast examination and mammography screening.

Women in Australia with no breast symptoms, aged between 50 and 69 are eligible to participate in BreastScreen Australia’s free breast cancer screening program. Every two years, women in this age group are recalled to have a screening mammogram. Women aged 40-49 are also welcome to attend, but they do not receive a two-yearly reminder.

Talk to your health practitioner about which method of screening is best for you.

Cervical screening

Regular Pap smears help protect against cervical cancer. This type of cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers, as long as it’s detected early, so it’s important to have them, as unpleasant as they are. It is recommended that women over 18 who have ever had sex should have a Pap smear every two years. Regular cervical screening can prevent the most common form of cervical cancer in 90 per cent of cases.

Cholesterol and blood pressure

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer for Australian women? Cholesterol and blood pressure levels are important risk factors for heart disease and stroke. If you are over the age of 40, you should have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly. Talk to your general practitioner how often you need to be tested, but the general recommendation is once a year.

Bone density testing

Osteoporosis is characterised by a thinning of the bones causing them to fracture or break easily. While both men and women are at risk of developing the disease, women are more at risk after reaching menopause. This is because of lower levels of oestrogen. Bone density testing can identify osteoporosis.

Before heading off for a bone density test, your doctor will review any risk factors you may have for osteoporosis, and any other diseases or medications that may impact negatively upon the health of your bones.

Next time you visit your doctor, make sure you discuss your bone health.

Bowel screening (Colorectal cancer screening)

Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers for Australians over 50 years of age. Around 80 Australians die of the disease each week. A faecal occult blood test (FOBT) detects tiny amounts of blood (often released from cancers or pre-cancers) in the stool.

Women with no family history of the disease should be screened every two years, after the age of 50. If there is a family history of bowel cancer, seek the advice of your general practitioner.

So don’t put off that check-up any longer. Invest the time in looking after your health. You are worth it.

Further information:

BreastScreen Australia Program

National Cervical Screening Program

Osteoporosis Australia

The Heart Foundation

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program