Women’s 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.

Infertility Awareness

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Women's Health

Infertility Awareness

Sometimes even well-meaning strangers can ask, “When are you having a baby?”  For some people, it’s more than just uncomfortable – it’s heartbreaking. Infertility is not something we often discuss in polite conversation, but it needs to be. One in six families is affected by infertility, and the issue should be discussed so we can all better understand the factors surrounding a private struggle that many people face.

Infertility is common.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child after more than 12 months of unprotected sex. One in six families are affected by either male or female infertility, or a combination of both. The World Health Organisation has predicted infertility to be the third most serious health condition in the 21st century, after cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Infertility affects both genders.

Males make up just under half of reported cases of infertility. One in 25 men is thought to have a low sperm count, and females over the age of 35 have a one in three chance of having issues with their infertility.

IVF is not always the solution.

There are many, many reasons that a family might struggle with infertility. Some causes are able to be addresses by looking at lifestyle, such as;

  • Frequency and timing of sex. There is a small window every month where conception is possible, and some couples can seek education as to the best way to monitor their chances of conceiving.
  • It’s not well known that many STIs, especially including chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can cause infertility issues. Once an STI has been diagnosed, the doctor can discuss where to go from there.
  • After the age of about 33, conception becomes more difficult. Consultation with a doctor can give you some options.
  • Some genetic factors negatively influence fertility.
  • Lifestyle choices. Alcohol, smoking and caffeine are all known to impact fertility. For some people, giving up these substances helps them fight infertility.
  • Weight and exercise. Being overweight and not exercising makes it much harder for the body to conceive. A healthy body can increase chances of conception.
  • Having all the vitamins and minerals the body needs is vital to healthy conception, especially if someone has a deficiency.

Approach the fertility discussion with sensitivity.

While it’s absolutely vital that fertility is spoken about, remember that issues around sex and conception are often private matters. Some people feel like they’ve “failed” if they can’t conceive naturally within a “normal” timeframe. It’s almost always better to focus on listening and supporting, rather than giving advice.

If you are struggling with fertility, or find yourself wondering if what your family is experiencing is “normal” – talk to someone. Almost every person who finally seeks advice about their fertility wishes they had started sooner. Your trusted GP is a great place to start, and they can refer you on if necessary.

Click here to book a GP to discuss infertility –>

Keeping Abreast of all Things Breastfeeding – 7 Facts You May Not Know

By | Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Nutrition, Women's Health

Keeping Abreast of all Things Breastfeeding – 7 Facts You May Not Know


It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and the theme this year is “sustaining breastfeeding together”. Breastfeeding is actually a team effort – the research shows that mothers breastfeed more effectively and for longer when they feel supported. So, let’s get together and look at 7 interesting facts you might not know about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding benefits mothers

It’s not just baby that benefits – exclusively breastfeeding can have a natural birth control effect for the first six months – but while it’s 98% effective, it’s not 100% failsafe! Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, helps most mothers to lose baby weight, and reduces the risk of type II diabetes and postnatal depression.

Breastfeeding helps the budget

Breastfeeding can save a family hundreds of dollars a year. Even without the cost of formula, breastfeeding mothers avoid the cost of bottles, bottle warmers, sterilisers, and specialised equipment. Even mothers who pump their breast milk will not normally require as much additional cost.

Breast milk adapts to baby’s needs

Breast milk changes its nutritional profile as your baby’s needs change. Breast milk for a 1 month old is different to the milk a mother produces for a 6 month old. It can even be different from one day to the next – for example, the body will automatically add more water during hot weather to help baby stay hydrated.

Big breasts don’t mean better breastfeeding

Breast size has very little to do with how much milk is produced and stored. Breast size is usually determined by fat deposits, but it is the mammary glands in breasts that produce milk.

Breastfeeding helps with bonding

Babies are born with limited eyesight – in fact, they can only see 20 – 30 cm. That happens to be the perfect distance to see their mum’s face while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also gives skin-to-skin contact, which is perfect for bonding with a new baby.

Don’t put the brakes on breastfeeding

Mums can still breastfeed during most sicknesses – in fact, it’s often better for baby. By the time you have symptoms, you have probably already passed on the infection, so it’s best to keep breastfeeding so your baby gets the benefits of your antibodies to help fight the sickness. You also don’t need to avoid a glass or two of alcohol – just wait at least 2 hours after each drink before feeding again.

Breastfeeding knowledge is built up over time

While many people think breastfeeding comes naturally, it can actually take some women time and effort to learn. It’s normal to need help. That’s why one of the major factors that determine whether a mother sticks with breastfeeding is how much support she has.

Not everyone can breastfeed exclusively, but the vast majority of women are able to when given support.  If you have any concerns or questions about breastfeeding or your baby, your GP can help or point you towards free specialist services.

You can click here to book in with a GP –>

Don’t Hold It In – Continence Issues and Why You Should Talk to Someone.

By | Elderly and aging, Family Planning & Parenting, Men's Health, Women's Health

Don’t Hold It In – Continence Issues and Why You Should Talk to Someone.

Continence issues are not a popular topic, but if there is no serious discussion, people who suffer in this area often feel alone and helpless.  The theme of this year’s Continence Week is “No laughing matter” – focusing on people’s tendency to laugh off continence issues as a joke, or to treat it as an inevitable part of ageing or childbirth. The truth is, continence is a specialist health issue with a range of treatments and management strategies. Let’s look at bladder and bowel control issues, and why we should be discussing them.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the word used for problems with bladder or bowel control. This could mean that a person accidentally loses urine from their bladder, or has accidental loss from their bowels – including faeces or passing wind. Problems can range from small, infrequent leakages to complete loss of control over the bladder or bowel. Over 4.8 million Australians have some loss of control over their bladder or bowel.

Who is at risk?

Bladder and bowel control problems affect one in four people. It is more common as people age, but these problems are not only limited to older people – many young people also have bladder or bowel control issues. Childbirth can also cause complications that lead to bladder and bowel control problems. Many people with poor bowel control also have poor bladder control.

Isn’t it just something that happens sometimes?

People like to make light-hearted jokes about incontinence, but the truth is that bladder and bowel control problems are a health issue.  It’s not a natural part of getting older or giving birth, and it will not get better on its own. Incontinence is an issue that needs medical help to manage, control or fix symptoms.

How can you treat or manage your continence issues?

People with bowel or bladder control issues can feel embarrassed to bring them up, but it is important to discuss them with someone who can help. Bladder and bowel control problems can be treated, managed or cured – you won’t know how much improvement you can make until you ask.

You can work on creating healthy habits to improve your bowel and bladder health by eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, toning and exercising your pelvic floor, and by reviewing and improving your toileting habits.

Where can you go for help?

Your GP can help you manage and treat your bladder or bowel control issues, and can advise you on what steps you can take to improve your condition.

If you are uncomfortable talking about your bladder or bowel control issues in person, you can phone 1800 33 00 66 for confidential advice, or you can go to www.continence.org.au to find information, connect and share your experience.

Don’t live with incontinence issues – click here for an appointment today.

The weird, wacky and wonderful world of pregnancy – 6 changes to expect when you fall pregnant

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Women's Health

The weird, wacky and wonderful world of pregnancy – 6 changes to expect when you fall pregnant


Pregnancy causes major changes to your body – some you might be prepared for, and others that are completely unexpected. Here are six of the most common (and strange) symptoms to look out for when pregnant.

1 Shortness of breath

Your organs actually move around to accommodate a growing baby. That means pressure on your diaphragm, which is the band of muscle under your lungs that controls your breathing. If you can’t quite catch your breath, take it as a sign to slow down and put your feet up!

2 Bizarre dreams

High levels of hormones, intense emotion, and lack of solid sleep means that many expectant mums have vivid, memorable dreams. It’s hardly surprising – you’ve got a lot on your mind! Talk about your dreams with a trusted person if they’re bothering you, but remember that dreams are your brain’s way of processing this exciting new stage.

3 Need to urinate

Your bladder gets hit with a two-punch combo, with increased blood volume putting extra burden on the kidneys as well as downward pressure from a growing baby drastically reducing the storage space. Get ready to map out the public bathrooms whenever you leave the house.

4 Increased sense of smell

While perhaps not the most impressive of super powers, your sense of smell is likely to become noticeably improved! This sensory experience will allow you to smell a fast food restaurant before you see it, but might also be a leading contributor to the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. You could try using a fresh-smelling scent such as citrus or mint, and then wait it out – most women are back to normal in the second trimester.

5 Clumsiness

Many women feel clumsy during pregnancy, and it’s not just the sudden change in size and shape. A pregnant body produces hormones that loosen ligaments and joints, which combines with the added bulk in front to confuse your sense of balance and coordination. Protect yourself with sensible shoes and extra mindfulness when moving around.

6 Cravings

Many expectant mothers crave foods (or food combinations) that they won’t touch once the baby comes. Some women even crave non-food substances, such as clay or charcoal – a condition called pica, which should be discussed with your GP. As long as your diet is healthy and well-balanced, it won’t hurt to indulge in the odd pickle-and-ice-cream sandwich, and it becomes a fun story to tell!


If you are concerned about any of your symptoms, remember to discuss them with your GP – you can click here to make an appointment »

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