Women’s health issues can differ greatly from men and requires some special attention. Over the recent decades, there’s growing awareness on women’s well-being, putting emphasis on screening and the prevention of diseases. In this new millennium as women are living longer, it’s crucial to let them enjoy a good quality of life- letting them take charge of their own bodies by keeping them well-informed of their unique health issues.
Screening for Breast and Cervical diseases- Although benign conditions are more common, cancers remain the top concern. Cancer screening is done through simple tests, typically every 2 years. (Frequent check-ups are needed for complicated cases.)
- Breast- Screening is done by clinical exam and an ultrasound or mammogram ordered by your doctor. It is best to discuss the risk/benefits of screening with your doctor.
- Cervix-requires a doctor’s clinical pelvic examination, a PAP smear and 5-yearly HPV testing. Prevention of HPV infection and cervical cancer vaccinations are available, so speak to our doctors about this.
(If you are concerned about Uterine or Ovarian cancers please consult us, as there are unfortunately no simple screening tests designed to detect them.)
Bone Density Screening- Bone density decreases as we age and our bones become fragile. This is called Osteoporosis. Screening is performed using a DEXA scan. A number of effective treatments are available: Hormonal therapy, Bisphosphonates, Vitamin D and Calcium supplements. As prevention, a diet rich in calcium together with exercise and smoking cessation are advisable.
Menopause- Occurs in every women between the age 48-55. Our body produces less female hormones (this is also a cause of Osteoporosis). The first sign is an unusually light period. The transition into menopause (peri-menopause) may last for 4 years and ends after a woman has gone 12 months without her period. Many experience nasty symptoms during peri-menopause: Hot flushes, night sweats, depression, palpitations and vaginal dryness. Short-term hormonal therapy and alternative medicine may provide temporary relief.
Pre-marital checks, Pregnancy and Prenatal care- It’s wise to know you and your partner’s health before you tie the knot and also to embrace a healthy start for you and your baby. Pre-marital checks identify potential health threats which may impact your decisions on family planning. Standard tests look for: Hereditary conditions (Thalassemia) and infections (Hepatitis B, Rubella, HIV and Venereal diseases). Acquiring a healthy lifestyle for pregnancy is also important. 3 key things to avoid which can lead to fetal malformations and pregnancy distress: caffeine, smoking and alcohol. Beware that some medications need to be avoided too- speak to our doctors regarding this. In general, drink plenty of water and stick to a well-balanced diet.
Handy Health Tips for all Ladies- Maintain an optimum weight (BMI 18-25kg/m2) and a waistline <88cm (35 inches). Eat balanced meals and don’t snack in between! Fit in a short 30-minute exercise every day. Reduce your alcohol drinking habits and quit smoking. Finally, don’t forget to keep the rest of your body in check too. Consider a yearly general wellness check for your body. Remember, taking these simple steps can get you a long way.
If there’s a problem or something worrying you- don’t hesitate to contact us! Here at IMC, we are trained to provide you with up to date medical advice and provide health screens to discuss these issues.
By Dr Michelle Cheung
MBBCh (Wales, UK)