Whether it be contraception, fertility advice, hormonal problems, difficulties with menstruation, uplanned pregnancy, breast symptoms, sexual dysfunction, bladder leakage or menopause, women have very specific health issues. There are a number of female cancers which worry you, such as ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer.
Breast Self Awareness (BSE) is undoubtedly the most important aspect of maintaining breast health. By knowing your own breasts, you are able to detect sinister changes if they occur. BSE should be done every few months, (preferably after a period if you are still menstruating). Exam yourself when lying flat, or in the shower, with water/soap to help glide the fingers around the breast in circles. Move the flat of your fingers, around the whole surface of the breast from outside in. If you notice any new lumps, redness or nipple changes, then get it checked. Breast cancer screening is free for women over 50 yrs, and consists of a simple Xray (mammogram). If anything deserving more attention is picked up on routine screening, then further investigation can be arranged. This might be ultrasound, MRI scan or fine needle aspiration. Lumps and bumps in the breasts are common, and can be caused by cysts or glandular thickening. However, if a lump is cancerous and picked up in the early stages, there is good treatment available which might be curative. Come and see us for a breast check, stand along or as part of a well woman check.
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose, as there is no reliable screening test, though there is plenty of ongoing research to develop one. The ovaries are the egg producing organs in a woman's body and are roughly the size of a walnut. The increase in size which happens when a cancer develops often doesn't get noticed until the enlargement has been happening for a while. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be quite vague, such as bloating and abdominal discomfort, which are very common symptoms in the general population. Ovarian cancer usually develops in post menopausal women, but can develop earlier. If you are worried, and think you might have a problem, see one of our doctors who will do a pelvic examination. We may order some imaging such as an ultrasound scan. Blood tests to measure CA125 are of limited value, as there can be false positives and false negatives, so doing this blood test for a screening test is not helpful. If you have any ovarian enlargement, it doesn't mean you have cancer but more investigations will probably be required.
Incontinence: leakage of urine is incredibly common, even in young women, though it gets increasingly more likely with age (even more likely if you have had children). Leakage (incontinence) of urine can happen if the muscles around the pelvic floor are weak (stress incontinence) or if the bladder muscles are overactive (urge incontinence) or sometimes the picture is mixed. All forms of leakage can be improved with simple measures. Commonly we might advise you regarding pelvic floor exercises, and weighted balls (kegels balls) can be helpful. We sell these at Clinic 66. We might refer you to a pelvic floor physiotherapist for some intensive rehabilitation of the weak muscles. Sometimes medication can be helpful. The last resort would be surgery, and if this is necessary, we can refer you to the most appropriate surgeon for this. Untreated bladder leakage can spoil your enjoyment of life, stop you going out and make you embarrassed. Don't put up with it!
For discussion, investigation or management of any of your women's health concerns or symptoms, come and see us. You need an expert GP, who specialises in womens health to understand your concerns and guide you through a shared decision making process. This organisation has been offering womens health services for over 18 years on the North Shore of Sydney.