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Women’s Health

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Stacey’s Melanoma Story – An Unexpected Diagnosis

By | Cancer, Skin, Women's Health | No Comments

An Unexpected Diagnosis

When Stacey was just 28, she was diagnosed with Melanoma.

Finding the melanoma wasn’t supposed to happen, but due to a series of events Stacey is lucky it was found in such early stages.

“I booked my husband in for a mole check as one of his footy team mates was diagnosed with terminal cancer from a melanoma” Stacey recalls. “Unfortunately, (well very fortunately) my husband couldn’t make the appointment at short notice so instead of cancelling the appointment I decided to get my moles checked.”

stacey-murphy-healthmint-melanomaStacey was seen by Dr Paul Tescher who did a full skin check – checking every mole on her body. “He was concerned about a small mole, only 3mm in diameter that I thought looked just like a freckle”. A couple of days later the conspicuous mole was removed and sent off for testing.

“It was Sunday afternoon and my husband and I were shopping at Fountain Gate when I received a call from Dr Paul’s Clinic”. Stacey was asked to attend the clinic immediately. “Upon this phone call my husband and I knew the mole must of been cancerous and our legs went to jelly.”

Dr Paul broke the news to Stacey that the mole had tested positive to melanoma. The cancer was spreading across the surface of Stacey’s skin and towards her bloodstream and the entire circumference of the mole tested positive to melanoma. However due to the early diagnosis, “he was extremely positive and reassuring that I would return to full health.”

Once Stacey was given her options for the removal of the melanoma, Dr Paul was able to undertake the procedure.

“The idea of having cancer in my body was terrifying so I wanted to ensure it was gone as quick as possible.”

The procedure to remove the cancer took place the next day and 1cm was removed around the original incision. A hole about the size of a 20cent piece was cut to create a flap in the skin to stretch and cover the hole. Stacey received a total of 21 stitches. This was then sent off for testing – and luckily came back with the all clear and no further traces of melanoma.

stacey-murphy-healthmint-melanoma

A family history of melanoma is apparent in Stacey’s family, with a few of her Mother’s 6 siblings being diagnosed later in life. “They were definitely surprised with my diagnosis,” Stacey claims. “I have two siblings myself and both are blonde with fair skin, while I am a brunette with olive skin. Call me naive, but I thought they would be more at risk than myself!”

“Like most Australians, I love being outdoors and soaking up the UV rays, but we need to realise that without the proper skin protection, this can come at a price.” Stacey still enjoys summer and the outdoors but now uses a 50+ sunscreen any time she heads outside.

“The diagnosis changed my outlook on life. I try not to stress the small stuff, and I take very little for granted. I wanted to share my story to encourage people of all ages to get their skin regularly checked, and to also push the use of sun protection for themselves and their families.”

stacey-murphy-malenoma-scar

“I know have a big beautiful scar on my arm which I wear with pride. It is a reminder not only to myself, but to all that know me to Slip, Slop, Slap!”

 

Thank you to Stacey for giving her permission to publish her story and her voice to help raise awareness about the importance of getting your skin checked.

If you are concerned about any unusual spots, freckles or moles, book an appointment to have your skin checked by clicking here

You can read more about our skin checks and mole removal here

If you would like more information on melanoma and the signs and symptoms to look out for then read our other articles:

Melanoma Symptoms

Skin Cancer Facts

Summer Safe Skin – What you should know about skin cancer

Skin cancer, skin checks and moles – oh my!

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

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workplace bullying mental health

Workplace Bullying and Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Is Workplace Bullying Affecting Your Mental Health?

Bullying is often discussed in relation to youth, but it’s a problem that can occur at almost any age. When discussing bullying as adults, it’s important to remember that bullying is often made up of small, repetitive incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but over time have a serious and detrimental effect on individuals and the wider workplace.

A report by Beyond Blue found that almost 1 in 2 Australians will experience workplace bullying at some time in their lives. Far from being a small annoyance, bullying can have real effects on people’s mental health. Let’s look at workplace bullying, and how it can have long-reaching consequences for individuals and their companies.

What is Workplace Bullying?

“Heads Up” defines workplace bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety”. Bullying embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. It can happen in person, but can also happen out of sight or online.

The “risk to health and safety” applies when someone’s mental health is at stake, as well as their physical safety. Workplace bullying takes many forms, and it can have a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of the person being bullied, as well as on the culture of the workplace.

There are several types of bullying behaviour that are more common.

Cyberbullying:

 People can be bullied using technology. That might include having messages sent either to the person or about them via various forms, sharing media about a person such as videos or pictures, or posing as that person online.

Social bullying:

 Deliberately leaving someone else out in an attempt to make them feel bad, deliberately excluding someone from a conversation, using social gatherings to say unpleasant things about a person. Bear in mind, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be invited to every social gathering! Bullying occurs when the person is being repeatedly left out with the deliberate intent of making them feel excluded.

Physical bullying:

 Taking or destroying someone’s property or any unwanted touch can be a form of bullying. Physical bullying is starting to cross the line into explicitly illegal behaviour such as assault and theft.

Emotional bullying:

 Ridiculing, intimidating, or putting someone else down repeatedly is emotional bullying.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying has a different effect on each person. People might feel alone, scared, powerless or miserable. Repetitive bullying can be overwhelming and feel like escape is impossible. Some people get angry, and spend time planning retribution. The effects of being bullied can build up over time, creating a high pressure situation.

Bullying can affect every part of someone’s life, from their relationships, confidence, how they present themselves, and what coping strategies they employ. People who are being bullied are often constantly on the alert to avoid unpleasant situations, which can be mentally exhausting and impact their working life.

Bullying in the workplace can have an effect on the business as well, especially because of lost productivity, absent employees, high turnover and low morale. The combined cost of bullying in Australian workplaces is estimated to be between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.

Putting a Stop to Workplace Bullying

In the past, management have often addressed bullying as an individual issue. However, beyondblue research has found that it is actually environmental factors that drive bullying, such as poor organisational culture and a lack of strong leadership.

Creating an environment that doesn’t allow bullying behaviour to occur is the best way to stop it from escalating. Businesses need to create strong, consistent approaches that do not tolerate bullying behaviour. A positive, respectful work culture goes a long way towards stopping bullying in the workplace.

If bullying does occur, the most important thing that individuals and businesses can do is treat it seriously. Bullying is often made up out of small incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but can build up to make a person miserable. Anyone who is being bullied needs to feel heard and supported. If you are being bullied, make sure you find a trustworthy person to talk to. Workplace bullying is a serious issue, and the impact on mental health should not be taken lightly by anyone involved.

sad-seasonal-affective-disorder

Coping with SAD

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Uncategorized, Women's Health | No Comments

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder / SAD – How to Beat the Winter Blues

If you notice yourself getting down when temperatures start to drop, you could suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s more than just feeling a bit gloomy – SAD is a recognised condition with millions of people experiencing symptoms at winter time. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to stop the change in season from affecting your mood.

Follow the Light

Researchers have demonstrated a clear link between reduced light exposure and a drop in mental health for many people during the winter months. As the days get shorter but work hours remain the same, it can be hard for people to get enough natural light into their day. This is turn affects mood, sleep habits and can have other side effects like poor vitamin D levels.

If SAD is getting you down, you might have to think of creative ways to get more light into your day. If you can choose to sit next to a window at work, that could help you get that light ix throughout the day. Spending your lunch hour outside whenever possible is another great way to get some light. For those who can’t make it outside, light boxes can help. Setting up a bright station and spending time there daily can help life your mood.

Get Active

SAD can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated, but try to push through and get some movement into your day. Exercise is generally recommended to help combat depression, but has some benefits that specifically relate to SAD. If your exercise takes place outside or in front of a light box it can help you get some extra light into your day, and it can work to reduce the effects of the carbohydrates often craved by people experiencing SAD. Often the cold is a reason for people to stay inside, but some light exercise can have you warm again in no time. It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous – a walk outside during your lunch break might be enough to help you feel better.

Watch Your Food

Craving carbohydrate-rich food is a recognised symptom of SAD, and it can lead to a downwards shift in your mood, not to mention the physical effects and potential weight gain. If you’re tempted to fill your plate with comforting carbs, try to look for other solutions. Protein-rich meals will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try swapping an omelette instead of cereal, and a chicken salad instead of a chicken sandwich. Fruit can help meet your cravings for sweet, but are also full of fibre and nutrients.

Sleep Soundly

How you sleep has a massive effect on your mood, and SAD can send your sleep patterns into a downwards spiral. Napping through the day, feeling lethargic and missing the usual light cues that help your brain wake up can disturb your sleep patterns. Try to help your body’s natural processes along. When you wake up, aim for bright lights and lots of activity. Instead of letting the lethargy glue you to the couch, try to fight it with activity. Then when sleep time comes around, low lights (especially minimising bright screens at least an hour before bed), and a warm, comfortable environment can help you drift off and sleep soundly.

If you are finding symptoms hard to shake off, if SAD is significantly affecting your life or if making basic changes doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your GP. For most people, however, it won’t take much to boost your mood. You don’t have to succumb to the winter blues – a few basic changes should have you back to normal in no time.

Four Tests You Should Have Every Year

By | Body Systems, Cancer, General Wellbeing, Men's Health, Skin, Women's Health

Four Tests You Should Have Every Year

 

 

Many people avoid seeing the doctor until there is something obviously wrong. There is a huge need for preventative health measures, and early diagnosis is crucial in the successful treatment of many conditions.  A good GP will work with you to not only fix existing problems, but to prevent and identify possible areas of concern to make sure you are not only healthy now, but stay healthy for the future.

Here are four simple tests that you should have at least every year to make sure your body is functioning well.

Full Blood Tests

Your blood holds so many clues to your wellbeing, and if you don’t check you will never know. From potentially serious conditions like diabetes and cancer, to general fatigue that can come from low counts of vitamins and minerals in your blood – it’s best to find out. Your blood can give you an indication of your heart health and levels of cholesterol, and can give clues as to how your other organs are performing.

If you have any concerns about your health, talk to your doctor before the tests are ordered so they can advise you if it’s worth having some extra areas looked at. A follow-up appointment once the results come through is important as it gives your doctor the opportunity to address any concerns or send you for further tests if necessary.

Blood Pressure

If you have personal concerns about your blood pressure or any family history of unhealthy blood pressure you will need to be checked more often, but everyone should be checked at least yearly. While you can often get the tests done at a local chemist, making an appointment with your GP allows you to record your readings to notice any changes over time, to discuss what the numbers mean, and to be advised on whether any further action may be required.

“Down Under” tests – Prostate Checks, Mammograms, Colon Checks and Pap Smears

No one said they were fun, but on the other hand they are not as bad as you might imagine. Chat to your doctor about how often you should get these checks and what form they should take – your age and family history will determine how frequent they should be. For example, prostate health can sometimes be measured using a blood test, rather than the manual examination some people fear, and mammograms are not recommended for women under the age of 40. Regardless of the form these tests take, don’t let your fear of discomfort get in the way of routine checks that could save your life.

Skin Checks

Melanoma and other types of skin cancer are on the rise in Australia, and can usually be easily diagnosed by a specialist in a quick, non-invasive appointment. The specialist will look closely at your skin, paying special attention to any moles or spots you might have. Family history of skin cancer increases your risk of getting the same disease but even one bad sunburn over a lifetime has a similar increased risk. Early detection is vital for successful treatment, and many places even bulk bill their skin scans – so cost shouldn’t be a factor.

 

It’s important to find a GP who you have a good relationship with, who will work with you to guard your future health as well as treating your present concerns. Book an appointment to discuss what tests might be right for you, and don’t let nerves or apathy get the better of you. Your health is worth guarding, and a few simple tests could literally save your life.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your health ->

Getting the Message about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

By | Cancer, Women's Health

Getting the Message about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

 

On Wednesday 28th of February, Teal Ribbon Day will be held to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, to support women battling the disease, and to remember lives lost. Every year, about 250,000 women will be diagnosed worldwide. Ovarian cancer often has symptoms, but they can be hard to detect. Let’s look at some facts you might not know about ovarian cancer.

Who is at risk for ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a type of gynaecological cancer, a group that also includes endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. There are no routine screening tests that can detect ovarian cancer – some women assume their cervical smears have them covered, but they are only for cervical cancers.

While there are risk factors that increase the chances that someone might develop this type of cancer, remember that many people who end up diagnosed with it have few or none of these risk factors, whereas some women with an increased risk will never develop ovarian cancer.

Risk factors.

The risk of ovarian cancer might be increased for women who:

  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have gone through menopause
  • Have a genetic risk – two or more women from the same side of the family indicates an increased genetic risk.
  • Have never had children
  • Have never used oral contraceptives
  • Have endometriosis
  • Have unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, eating a high fat diet or being overweight
  • Have hormonal issues, such as early puberty or late menopause.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer often comes with symptoms, but they can be similar to the symptoms from less serious health complaints. The four most common symptoms are pain in the pelvis or abdomen, an increase in size or bloating of the abdomen, urinating often or urgently, and feeling full after eating a small amount.

Just because you have some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer, so you shouldn’t panic. There is most likely another explanation for your symptoms, but if common illnesses are ruled out then ovarian cancer should be considered. A disease like ovarian cancer requires you to know your body and trust your instincts.

Ovarian Cancer Australia list other common symptoms as:

  • Changes in your bowel habits.
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
  • Bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
  • Back pain.
  • Indigestion or nausea.
  • Excessive fatigue.
  • Pain during intercourse.

Speak Out.

Remember that no one knows your body as well as you do, so don’t ignore any warning signs. If you have symptoms frequently over a 4-week period and they are unusual for you, talk to your GP. If you are not confident in your doctor’s diagnosis, it’s ok to seek a second opinion. Don’t forget to buy a teal ribbon on the 28th of this month to help raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss ovarian cancer –>

5 Things to Consider Before (or During) Pregnancy

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Women's Health

5 Things to Consider Before (or During) Pregnancy

 

 

 

Whether you are pregnant now or hoping to become pregnant soon, you can start preparing your mind and body to grow your baby. Here are 5 areas you can focus on before or during your pregnancy to help give both you and baby the best pregnancy possible.

Exercise is important

Being pregnant and giving birth are physically challenging tasks. Exercise can reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, lower your weight and improve your cardiovascular system. There are many misconceptions about exercise during pregnancy, but it’s very safe and healthy for most women. Do talk to your GP before changing your usual exercise plan, and avoid potentially dangerous activities (like horse-riding, for example).

Focus on nutrition

While people might try to get away with blaming their poor diet on “eating for two”, the truth is that nutrition before and during pregnancy is incredibly important. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself on occasion, but try to make the majority of your diet feature healthy options. Some foods will need to be restricted (like caffeine) or cut out completely (deli meats and soft cheeses), so you might want to start reducing your intake now.  A prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid is also very important to the health of you and your baby.

Make a plan, but go with the flow.

Before falling pregnant or giving birth, you should spend some time researching pregnancy and birthing options and thinking about how you want them to go. That being said, an over-complicated or inflexible plan can be more stressful than helpful. Think about your main preferences, but don’t forget that pregnancy and birth are sometimes unpredictable. Make sure the people around you know what you want – but don’t get too hung up on everything going to plan. A happy and healthy Mum and baby should be everyone’s top priority.

Change your chores

Great news – there are jobs you’ll just have to pass on! Any jobs that involves potentially harmful chemicals needs to be given to someone else wherever possible. Avoid heavy lifting and climbing. Protective gloves will need to be worn and your hands washed up well after jobs that might put you into contact with bacteria, such as handling raw meat or gardening. Kitty litter needs to be completely avoided thanks to the risk of toxoplasmosis.

Don’t forget your own wellbeing

Whether this is your first baby or you’ve got little ones running around at home, your life is about to get busier. Take time for yourself now – whether getting pampered or just practicing some relaxing deep breathing, a calm Mum is more likely to be a happy Mum. Whether you need emotional, practical or medical support, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your pregnancy or getting pregnant –>

 

 

Focus on Healthy Bones for World Osteoporosis Day

By | Elderly and aging, General Wellbeing, Men's Health, Women's Health

Focus on Healthy Bones for World Osteoporosis Day

 

 

In 2017, more than 160,000 Australians will be treated for broken bones due to osteoporosis. Around 80% of patients with broken bones leave hospital without being checked for osteoporosis, so that number could be significantly higher. The 20th of October is a day set apart around the world for focusing on bone health. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects Australians from all walks of life, and you can start taking steps at almost any stage of life to decrease the risk of breaking or fracturing a bone as a result of this condition.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis refers to a condition where bones lose essential minerals (like calcium) quicker than the body can replace them. That leads to the bones becoming less thick and strong. The bones then become more porous and less dense, which weakens them – sometimes to the point where even a small bump or fall can lead to fractures. Over 1 million people in Australia, both men and women, have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Osteopenia is a related condition that occurs before osteoporosis. A diagnosis of osteopenia means that your bone density falls between the normal range and diagnosed osteoporosis, so you need to take action to increase the health of your bones to avoid developing osteoporosis.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

A simple scan can diagnose osteoporosis, called a “bone mineral density test”. The scan usually focuses on the hip and spine to see how much mineral loss may have occurred. The scan is a simple process – it requires that you lie flat on a padded table (while fully clothed), and a machine passes a scanning arm over your body. The scan does not usually take more than 10 – 15 minutes.

What risk factors can lead to osteoporosis?

Avoiding osteoporosis starts from a young age – calcium is extremely important for children and adolescents to build strong bones, and many are not getting enough. Some medications can affect bone health, and these side effects need to be discussed with your doctor. During menopause, rapidly declining levels of oestrogen make women more at risk of osteoporosis. Men’s hormone levels decline more slowly, so their increased risk often occurs later in life.

Some medications, health conditions and your family history can indicate an increased risk of osteoporosis. Being under- or overweight, low levels of physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition can also lead to the condition.

How is osteoporosis treated?

It is very important that osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Resistance, muscle-strengthening, and weight-bearing exercises are the best for increasing bone health. Weight-bearing exercises include any activity where you support your own body weight, like jogging or dancing. In addition, you will need to eliminate negative lifestyle factors – that includes avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, and keeping your body weight in a healthy range.

Calcium is extremely important for building strong bones. If you cannot get enough calcium from your diet, a supplement might be prescribed. Vitamin D levels also need to be adequate for good bone health. Your body can make vitamin D with just a few minutes of direct sunlight, but supplements are available if you are struggling to keep your levels high enough. Protein is also important for building bones.

 

Your GP can help you assess your risk factors, and arrange for bone testing if necessary. Talk to your doctor about any medications or health conditions that might affect your bone health. Early diagnosis will give you the best possible chance of avoiding fractures and keeping your bones healthy and strong.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss bone health and screening –>

Thinking Positively About Mental Health

By | Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health

Thinking Positively About Mental Health

 

 

People tend to view mental health from the perspective of an illness – either you have a mental health disorder, or you are mentally healthy. In fact, good mental health is a positive state that every person can work towards.

The World Health Organization defines good mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Here are some facts about mental health that might challenge your perceptions.

Mental health disorders are experienced by a large and diverse group of Australians.

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing surveyed the mental health of the Australian population. Their study showed that 45.5% of Australians had experienced a mental disorder at one point in their lives, and 20% had experienced a disorder in the last 12 months – almost 3.2 million Australians. Regardless of gender, age or culture, good mental health is vital.

Mental health is not just about disorders.

While it is important to address mental health conditions, everyone should prioritise their mental health – even if they are never diagnosed with a disorder. Feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, tension, or simply feeling down are normal emotions, but when they persist they can negatively affect mental health. There are many steps you can take on your own to work on your mental health, but if these feelings are disrupting your daily life it’s important to seek outside help.

You can improve your mental health.

There are a number of ways you can work towards positive mental health – although remember that it is normal and ok to need outside help. Some ideas to help you stay mentally healthy are:

  • Focus on good nutrition and exercise
  • Get good, regular sleep
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and drug use
  • Talk about your feelings (or express them in a way that is natural to you)
  • Set realistic goals
  • Practice relaxation
  • Try new things and challenge yourself
  • Spend time with friends and family

Good mental health is a positive pursuit.

There is often a social stigma around people with mental health disorders, which can prevent people from seeking help. Some people don’t identify with needing to improve their mental health if they don’t have a “condition”. The truth is, mental health is about functioning well in all areas of life, having significant social connections, good self-esteem and being able to deal with change.

If you have any concerns about your mental health, whether you identify with having a “condition” or whether you could just use some support, your GP is a great place to start looking for information. Think positively – improving your mental health is about helping you to live your best life, and it’s worth pursuing.

Click here to make an appointment with a GP to discuss improving your mental health —>

Beating Breast Cancer – How to Be Breast Aware

By | Cancer, Chronic Disease, Clinic News, Women's Health

 

 

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Australian women (and men can also get breast cancer). Early detection ensures the best rate of survival, so it’s important to be aware and check your breasts regularly. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a great reminder to be proactive about your breasts.

Here are four important ways you can stay aware of your breast health.

1. Know your risk factors

Your risk factors determine how likely or unlikely it is that you will get breast cancer, but even people assessed as very low risk can be diagnosed with this cancer. Some factors can’t be changed. Being a woman, getting older, and having relatives with this cancer makes it more likely that you could get breast cancer.

If you have these risk factors, focus on increased awareness and reducing the risks you can control. There are simple steps that even people with a low risk of breast cancer should take. These include limiting alcohol, eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy body weight through exercise. If it an option for you, breastfeeding for more than 12 months in total has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. No matter how low your risk, it still pays to check yourself regularly.

2. Have mammograms (where appropriate)

While many people think of mammograms as the best way to detect breast cancer, that isn’t true for everyone. Mammograms are not very effective in women younger than 40, and women who are older than 70 need to discuss their options with their doctor.

Breasts gradually become less dense as women get older, which makes the early signs of breast cancer easier to see. The ideal age group for mammograms is from 50 – 70. In Australia, women aged 40 and older are offered a free mammogram every 2 years. Your doctor can help you decide if mammograms are right for you.

3. Check yourself

The most important thing you can do to catch breast cancer early is to become familiar with the shape and feel of your breasts. There are many techniques available, but as long as you visually and physically inspect your breasts you should be able to notice changes.

Some things you might look out for are lumps or lumpiness (especially only on one side), a change to the nipple including discharge, crusting, redness or if your nipple inverts, skin changes (for example, becoming red or dimpling), a pain that doesn’t go away, or a change to your breasts’ size or shape.

4. Talk to your doctor

Nine out of ten breast changes are normal and not due to breast cancer, but you should check with your doctor to be sure. Remember that early detection has a large impact on survival rates. 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer survive five or more years beyond diagnosis, and the survival rates in Australia are continuing to improve. See your GP if you have any concerns or notice any changes to your breasts, and make sure you and your loved ones stay breast aware.

Click here to make an appointment with a GP to discuss breast cancer or a breast check.

Fighting Fit Females – 5 Factors that Influence Women’s Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Women's Health

Fighting Fit Females – 5 factors that influence women’s health

 

This year, the Women’s Health Week focus was on 5 major health concerns that affect women. Most of these issues relate to each other – for example, getting healthy levels of exercise will help you sleep, improve your bone health, relax your mind and avoid cardiovascular disease. Have a look at these commonly neglected areas of women’s health, and plan how you can make small changes that have big effects on your health.

Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Australian women, so it’s important to take cardiovascular disease very seriously.  Factors like family history and age can’t be changed, but there are many lifestyle choices that will improve your chances of avoiding cardiovascular disease – eating well, moving more, and paying attention to your mental health all influence blood pressure and heart health. Seek help early, be aware of the signs of heart attack (they may not be what you think) and have regular check-ups to keep heart healthy.

Clear Mental Clutter

Mindfulness is fully supported by science as a method to counter depression, anxiety and stress.  Mindfulness means disengaging from all the stress of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, and taking time to concentrate on the present. There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness, and great resources available online. You have everything you need to start right now – so set some time aside, find a guided mindfulness exercise to get you started, and begin your journey of decluttering your mind.

Strengthen Your Frame

Women are particularly susceptible to weakened bones or osteoporosis, but there are some easy ways to fight back. Getting regular sunlight helps vitamin D production. Regular weight-bearing physical activity, where you use your body to work against gravity, helps strengthen bones. Finally, a diet rich in calcium will build up your bones and allow them to perform their many vital functions.

Get Active

Exercise has a positive impact on nearly every part of your life, yet most of us don’t get enough. It can feel daunting to start an exercise program, but don’t think in terms of marathon training – little changes add up fast. Ideally, women should be aiming for at least 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity exercise over the course of a week, with strengthening exercises on at least 2 days. Try to tackle the reasons you might avoid exercise, and make small, lasting changes to see the benefits.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is often undervalued, but not getting enough can have far reaching consequences for our physical and mental health. Establish a good bedtime routine to help you nod off. Turn off screens at least 2 hours before bedtime, and aim for around 7-9 hours per night. Caffeine consumption is a bad cycle to get into – it stops you sleeping, and people who haven’t slept enough often resort to caffeine to feel alert again. 10 minutes of brisk exercise is much more energising than caffeine, and is less likely to keep you awake at night.

If you have concerns in any of these areas or need ideas on how you can make changes, your GP is a great place to start. Making small, permanent changes (instead of grand plans you might not stick to) will start you on the path to better health.

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