No matter what your age, as a woman you need to care for your gynaecological health. This involves knowledge about what is normal health and when to see your doctor. Regular checkups, pap smears, choosing the right contraceptive and safe sex practices are all part of being a confident women.
Here in Women’s & Newborn Health we have staff with the specialist knowledge to support you in making the right choices for your gynaecological health. We have health information fact sheets to assist you in understanding how your body works or how a procedure or disease may affect you. We know the right websites you should visit to gain more information and support. While nothing replaces a conversation with your doctor, midwife or nurse, being able to read and view reliable health information can provide support in your conversations and reassurance about your decisions.
Some gynaecological conditions may not respond to lifestyle changes or medications and need correction with surgery. It may be that you need repair of your uterus, pelvic floor or other reproductive organs or removal of your uterus or ovaries. Whatever the reason, you will want to know why you need surgery, what will happen in surgery and what to expect while you recover.
Questions about going to hospital, pain relief, bleeding and the future function of your body are just some of the information our fact sheets provide. Talking with your GP and gynaecologist will help you prepare and cope with your planned surgery.
General information about your gynaecological surgery
Treatment of Pap smear abnormalities
This is the permanent coming to an end of the menstrual periods. By definition, menopause is said to occur when there has been no period for 12 months. The usual age of menopause is 48 - 55 years. For about 5 years before the periods finish it is not unusual for your menstrual cycle to become irregular, to have hot flushes, night sweats and difficulty sleeping. This is called the perimenopausal period. Around this time and after the periods finish, other symptoms may also occur such as aches/pains, tiredness, mood changes and problems with concentration.
There are many things you can do to relieve the discomforts experienced during the perimenopausal and menopausal period. You can visit your GP to discuss treatments to help with the symptoms of menopause
A Pap smear is a test that takes a sample of the cells on your cervix and then places them under a microscope to examine them. This allows for early detection of abnormal cells and is the best way to prevent cancer of the cervix. At the present time (changes are coming in May 2017) Australian women between the ages of 18 and 70 years who have ever had sex are advised to have a pap smear every two years, starting between ages 18 and 20 or 1 - 2 years after becoming sexually active, whichever is later.
The good news about cancer of the cervix is that it takes over 10 years to develop from a few abnormal cells (pre-cancer) to something serious, giving plenty of time for it to be prevented. The other good news is that in many cases, a woman’s body takes care of the minor abnormal cells so that they go away by themselves. However, in some cases, treatment of abnormal cells is needed. This is a small procedure that can often be done in a clinic.
Period problems are common, with heavy bleeding, missing periods, spotting between periods and irregular cycles bothering many girls and women at some time. Many problems occur only once or twice and then settle, while others may last longer or get worse over time. It is not uncommon for period issues to interfere with a woman's usual activities. The good news is that period problems are often quite easy to manage, although further investigations and even surgery may sometimes be needed.
Pelvic pain is also quite common. This most frequently happens during periods but some women also experience pain in between their periods or with sexual intercourse. Sometimes the cause of the problem is obvious. However, because there are so many organs and tissues, including the bowel, bladder, nerves and muscles, situated in the pelvis (lower tummy area) near the gynaecological organs (uterus, vagina, ovaries, tubes), finding out what is causing your pain may require further tests. Once the cause of your pain is worked out, treatment choices can be offered and you and your doctor can decide what the best management will be for you.
Uterine fibroids are a common cause of period problems, however they do not always need surgical treatment and can often be managed with medication.
Women may have concerns about what is normal 'down there'. The vagina connects the outside world to the cervix (neck of the womb). This is the passage through with you bleed when you have a period and through which the baby passes during birth. The vulva is the name given to the external genitatlia at the opening of the vagina. There is no specific way your vulva should look, like any part of the body, there are variations in colour, size and shape.
Contraception means stopping yourself from getting pregnant. The fact sheets and links provided here will help you make the decision of what is best for you. Choosing the best type of contraception is very important and what is right for you and your partner may vary throughout different stages of your lifetime.Westmead Hospital has an outpatient contraception advice clinic. Please contact the clinic on (02) 8890-6168. No referral is necessary.
The term STI is used to describe infections that are only or usually spread through sexual contact. STIs are common and most are easy to treat. Some have obvious symptoms while others may have no symptoms so that people don’t realise they have an infection unless they have a test.
Common infections include chlamydia, genital herpes and genital warts while less common infections include gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV.
For more detailed information about STIs, visit Family Planning NSW
The Pelvic Floor Unit (PFU) in the Women's & Newborn Health Service provides care to women with urinary incontinence (leakage), prolapse and other pelvic floor problems.