Spotlight on Women’s Health

Our new Gynaecologist, Dr Julienne Wickham, discusses some of the scientific advances in Women’s Health from a recent “World Congress” of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:-
“Increasing importance is being placed on healthy ageing after menopause, and naturally this includes sexual health. It is only in recent times that women have lived for many years after menopause. Whilst this is surely a good thing, the prolonged time we now live with low oestrogen levels means many women will notice changes in the health of the genital skin such as reduced lubrication, vulval discomfort and sometimes painful intercourse. Frequent use of lubricants is helpful, and should be commenced early as there is nothing like painful intercourse to reduce desire!

Sexual activity itself improves blood flow to the area and helps maintain skin health. For some women use of oestrogen creams can provide relief from long-standing symptoms – and due to its local application, it has very few side effects.

Screening for ovarian Cancer has been a goal for many years as early diagnosis would certainly save lives. This has proven technically challenging as current blood tests and ultrasounds usually don’t detect early cancers and cause many false alarms with unnecessary surgeries and other interventions. For this reason, screening for ovarian Cancer has not been recommended.

A large study in the United Kingdom has used computer algorithms to analyse changes in blood test results over time has shown some promise in reducing unnecessary surgeries.

The “2020” vision is that screening for ovarian cancer may become possible – in the same way that breast screening and pap smear programs are currently available.

IS THe PAP SMeAR DeAD? Major changes are on the horizon for Australia’s Pap Smear Screening program. Newer technology has allowed earlier and more accurate detection of the risk of developing cervical cancer, and the new “cervical test” will only require an examination every 5 years instead of 2 yearly. Most of us will agree fewer examinations is a significant benefit!”

Dr Julienne Wickham is dedicated to improving the lives of women of all ages, please speak with your GP for a referral and call 4331 1089 to make an appointment.

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