It’s Women’s Health Week – the perfect reminder to ensure we are on top off the necessary heath screening tests and checks so we can nip things in the bud. In this episode, I am joined by Sydney GP, Dr Annette Skarschewski, who gives us the rundown on the biggest health challenges for women but also what screening tests are avilable to us to ensure we can stay on top of our health.
Dr Annette shared the following tips during the episode:
– Make visiting your GP a priority. An ongoing relationship with an invested GP is essential. They will keep you on track and ensure you are just not putting out the spot fires but instead working on preventative health and ticking off your regular health checks.
– All women over 25 need to have the Cervical Screening Test (CST) – every 5 years. This test has replaced the old ‘pap smear’ which used to start for women from 18 years of age. The Pap smear used to look for cell changes in the cervix, but the new test looks for HPV which can lead to those changes. It is recommended that these tests continue to age 74 as there can be a late life increased chance of cervical cancer. Annette recommends her patients have a mammogram and ultrasound every 2 years from 40. She believes the 2 work so well together to provide the maximum amount of information. The government suggests having these tests till 74 but no reminders will be provided after this age.
– Having regular overviews with your GP is a great idea even from your early 20’s. This should include your blood pressure, fasting cholesterol test and fasting glucose test. If things are going well, you might do this every few years throughout your 20’s and 30’s but in your 40’s you need to ramp this up even more!
– A Fecal Occult Blood test is another test Annette likes her patients to have this done annually from 40 as bowel cancer kills more women than breast cancer. The government will send you a test on your 50th birthday! test – bowel cancer kills more people than breast cancer.From 50, Annette likes her patients to have a Bone Density Test. Around menopause, we lose oestrogen which can potentially impact on our bone mass. There is no ovarian cancer screening test. Howeverm, Annette recommends having a reasonably low threshold for any symptons in your pelvic area and abdomen. If things don’t feel right, please go and see your GP and request an ultrasound. She would suggest a trans vaginal ultrasound.
– Some women sail through it and others don’t.
– A healthy lifestyle can help a lot but it doesn’t mean you avoid issues.
– In your 40’s, be aware your periods can change – heavier or more frequent. If you experinece this, please visit your GP to have this checkedis and your iron levels.
– As you get closer to 50, you may experience symptoms that you may not realise iindicate menopause. Look out for weight gain, hot flushes but insomnia can also be a sympton too. General aches and pains, brain fog and low libido can also be symptoms.
– A lot of women will also get their frst episode of anxiety and/or depression in menopause due to changing hormone levels. Annette sees great results treating this with Menopausal hormonal therapy (MHT), formerly called hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
You can listen to my full chat with Annette via the link below:
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