What is Women’s health?
Women’s health is care and advice on a wide range of issues which are important specifically to women.
It does not necessarily mean that a female general practitioner will be the one to conduct your consultation, although you are welcome to make this request if this is your preference.
I’m a younger woman – what sort of things are important to me?
Services which are offered and might be of relevance to you are:
- Sexual health
- STI (sexually transmitted infection) screening
- Family planning, prenatal advice and pregnancy care
- Menstrual problems
- Iron infusions
I’m a more mature woman – what matters to me?
More mature women may have concerns regarding different aspects of their health, including things such as:
- Cardiovascular health
We have doctors who are highly skilled in preventative women’s health including cervical screening, breast examinations and teaching you ‘self-examination’, as well as 45–49-year-old health assessments.
Two vital aspects of women’s health are cervical cancer screening and breast examination and are covered in more detail below.
What is a Cervical Screening Test and how is it different from a Pap test?
Prior to December 2017 doctors performed a Pap test which looked for changes in cells of the cervix which could go on to become cervical cancer.
Since then, we have been doing a Cervical Screening Test (CST) to detect HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) which can cause cells to change and become cervical cancer – this aims to pick up any problems even earlier. If your test is negative, you will be invited to have a CST every 5 years.
If you have HPV detected on your CST you will be monitored more regularly or be referred to a gynaecologist for further investigation.
Do I have a chaperone in the room with me during a CST or breast check?
You are more than welcome to request a chaperone to be in the room during any procedure or examination so you feel completely comfortable.
What is new since July 2022?
Women and people with a cervix who have ever had sexual contact, and are between the ages of 25 to 74, can choose to have a cervical screening test performed by your doctor or by taking a sample with a vaginal swab yourself. Your doctor can show you how to do this.
Why the change?
Approximately 75% of women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer never had, or were not having, regular cervical screening tests. The goal is for more cervical cancer prevention by women feeling more comfortable to perform a 5 yearly self-test.
Is CST self-testing for me?
You will still need to see your doctor to determine whether self-screening is appropriate for you.
Self- screening is not suitable for patients who have any symptoms, are being monitored for prior abnormalities or have other high-risk conditions.
If your self-screening test reports the presence of HPV then you will need to have a clinical examination using a speculum to determine further management.
How does self-testing work?
Your doctor will provide the swab test, pathology request form and instructions on how to take the sample in a private space in the clinic or in your own home. You will need to return the labelled swab to the clinic so that it can be sent away for testing. Your doctor will contact you via SMS/letter with the results if normal. You will be asked to make an appointment with your doctor if your test is positive for Human Papilloma Virus.
For more information about the National Cervical Screening Program click here.
Click here to see how a self-collect Cervical Screening Test can be performed.
Should I also have a breast-check?
A breast check is frequently offered at the same time as a cervical screening test. However, it is also important that you learn how to check your own breasts so you can get an understanding of what is ‘normal’ for you, and hopefully detect anything ‘abnormal’. Your doctor can teach you how to do this.
For more information on breast self-examination, click here.
For more information about screening mammography, click here.
For general information regarding breast cancer awareness, click here.