Women's Month

How wonderful that we have an entire month to celebrate the women around us. The ones who glue the family together, keep the peace and hold everyone’s hands through the tough times.

As we are all very much aware, we are nothing if we do not have our health.

It is so important for women to have an annual medical check-up. Aside from the routine Blood Pressure, Glucose and Cholesterol checks, there are a few “lady” checks to be done too.

 Women should have an annual pap smear from when they are sexually active. This is the best screening tool we have to detect Cervical Cancer. In fact, the Pap Smear picks up changes in the cervical cells, long before they are cancerous. This means, we can treat the pre-cancerous lesions with simple and quick procedures to prevent the occurrence of Cervical Cancer. This is extremely important as Cervical Cancer is one of the most common cancers to lead to death in women.

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted, among other routes of transmission. There is a vaccine for this. This vaccine can be given at any age, but it is most effective in girls aged 9-13 years old, before they are sexually active. It is designed to allow the immune system to develop a defence against the types of HPV which are cancer causing. The vaccine is given in a couple of doses, over a 6 month period. You need a prescription from your doctor for this vaccination.

From the age of 45, we recommend women have annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer. Those with a strong family history of Breast cancer, can consider starting annual checks at a younger age. It is highly advised that you perform monthly self-examinations on your breasts so that any early changes can be quickly identified. In the majority of cases, the earlier a cancer is identified, the better the long term outcome.

From the time of menopause, we suggest women have a bone density scan annually. This is usually done in the same appointment as your mammogram, at your local radiology department. As ladies age, and oestrogen levels drop post menopause, there is a risk of your bones becoming thin and brittle, known as osteoporosis. This increases the risk of severe fractures, especially in the spine and long bones. We all know a little old lady who had a ‘small fall’ and broke her hip. Nobody wants this for themselves. If your bone density is reduced, there are various forms of treatment that can be given including a drip once a year, or tablets taken once a month for convenience.

There is no joy in poor health, so this August, I encourage every lady to make an appointment with their GP (virtual if you prefer!) and get one of these tests off the to do list.