Brinkmann Gynaecology

Ages and stages of women's health

We can improve our total wellbeing with a balanced diet, regular exercise and avoiding smoking. But different concerns arise at different times and it pays to be aware of symptoms and when to seek help. To improve your chances of remaining healthy, you should also know what preventative and screening options are available for women and when.

Teens

All 12-13 year old girls are offered the HPV vaccine as part of a national screening programme. This protects against the type of virus that can cause cervical, vaginal and vulval cancers. It does not protect against all types of HPV (human papilloma virus) so it is still important to attend cervical screening from the age of 25.

Ages 18-40

There are a number of common conditions which can affect women now to varying degrees. Women offer suffer unnecessarily with conditions that may be treatable through a variety of methods from non-invasive to surgical. It pays to be aware of symptoms and the options available to treat them. Discussions with your doctor can ensure that from a variety of available solutions you can choose the one that best suits you.

Periods

While menstrual cycle irregularities usually aren't serious, they can sometimes signal health problems or have a negative impact on your life. If you have concerns it is always best to have these checked to ensure your symptoms are not indicative of something more serious. For improved life quality there are many treatments available to relieve problematic symptoms associated with heavy, painful or irregular periods.

Contraception and pregnancy

Advice and help on contraception and pregnancy is particularly important if your situation is not straight forward. Conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect your chances of falling pregnant. Treatments are available to relieve symptoms and treat conditions so there is no need to suffer unnecessarily.

Cervical screening

From the age of 25 it is advisable to have a smear test every three years to detect if cervical cancer cells are present. If abnormalities are picked up, pre-cancerous cells can be effectively treated with colposcopy and other procedures.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is most common in under 35s but it is uniquely the only woman’s cancer preventable through regular screening. Whilst cervical screening can help identify issues early, you should seek medical advice between smears if you suffer from vaginal bleeding between periods, unpleasant discharge or pelvic pain.

Pelvic pain

Pelvic pain can indicate conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids or infections. As well as having a negative impact on life quality it is important to have these symptoms investigated to ensure they don’t indicate something more serious. Much can be done to relieve debilitating symptoms and our patients talk of life-changing results after treatment.

General wellbeing

Women are often working, raising children and trying to do it all. Think about how well you are taking care of yourself, including taking exercise, healthy eating and getting enough sleep.

Ages 40-60

Menopause

The average age for women to experience menopause is 52 and it can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. After menopause some conditions may occur more frequently such as high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, obesity, heart disease and certain cancers. Many conditions can be treated to improve life quality and relieve unwanted symptoms. Women at high risk for osteoporosis may benefit from having a bone scan in their 50s.

Breast and cervical screening

It is important to attend regular smear tests every three years until you are 49 and every five years thereafter till your mid-sixties. To prevent against breast cancer, have a mammogram every three years between 50 and 70.

A minority of women may have a higher than average risk of breast and ovarian cancer due to a family history or inherited faulty gene. They are recommended to begin screening from a younger age. Not everyone with a family history of cancer is at increased risk themselves but discuss this with your doctor if you are concerned.

Women’s cancers

A variety of cancers can affect women in their 40s to 60s including cancer of the breasts, cervix, ovaries, uterus, and vulva. Being attuned to cancer’s warning signs helps detect the disease in its early stages when treatment will be more successful.

Incontinence and vaginal prolapse

These conditions are more common in women over 50 and can stop you living life to the full. Many women put off seeking treatment but our patient’s talk of life-changing transformations after treatment for these distressing conditions. Options range from non-invasive to surgical and it is important to find the option that works best for you.

Your daughter’s health

If you have a daughter in her teens or 20s you may be considering her health as well as your own. Refer to our section on younger women’s health issues and also be aware of any family conditions that may affect her, such as genetic cancer risk.

Age 60+

The health outlook for women in their 60s and beyond has never been better. To ensure you are living life to the full it’s important to be aware of the various conditions which could affect you, and of the symptoms to look out for to ensure any illnesses are picked up as early as possible.

Post menopausal bleeding

The average age for menopause is 52, so by the time most women reach their 60s they have stopped their periods completely. Post-menopausal bleeding could be a symptom of cervical or uterine cancer for around one in 10 women at this age. This should be investigated immediately to rule out anything serious.

Cancer

Women’s likelihood of developing a number of cancers increases as they get older, with womb cancer mostly affecting over-60s and ovarian cancer being most common between the ages of 65 and 75. Symptoms to look out for include post-menopausal bleeding, pelvic pain, unusual discharge and a swollen abdomen. Women who reached menopause relatively late or underwent certain types of hormone replacement therapy may find they are at an increased risk of womb cancer.

Incontinence and vaginal prolapse

These conditions are more common in women now as muscles become weaker or damaged. Many women put off seeking treatment but much can be done to improve these debilitating conditions. Treatment options range from non-invasive to surgical and it is important to find the option that works best for you.

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