Charming female doctor giving advice to a female patient.

The importance of women’s health

Here at St John Medical, we cannot stress the importance of women’s health enough. Good health should be a priority, however this can be difficult for many women who lead busy lives and don’t take the time needed to stay on top of their health and wellbeing. Read on to find why you should put your own health first and how St John Medical can help.

Why women’s health?

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 2 Australian females have a chronic disease. This goes to show just how important it is for women to start thinking about their health right now.

Jean Hailes, one of the leading Australian not-for-profit organisations in women’s health and the founder of Women’s Health Week, says there are two major barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They are:

  • Lack of time
  • Health not being a priority

It is no secret women are leading busier lives than ever before and have a tendency to let themselves slip low on their priority lists. However, it is time for Australian women to start putting themselves first and focusing on their health.

By staying on top of your health and making positive changes that can last a lifetime, you are making an investment in your future. Furthermore, investing more time in yourself means you are better able to look after the ones you love and care about. So it is time to put yourself first and start a serious conversation about women’s health.

Main causes to be aware of

When it comes to your health, there are a number of women’s health issues that are specific to women alone. Here are some of the main ones to be aware of that may require specialised treatments by doctors and nurses experienced in providing women’s health services:

Breast cancer

According to the Cancer Council, breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. It can develop at any age.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women (after lung cancer). In 2018, it is estimated that 18,087 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer – that is an average of 50 people everyday. Some of the risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history
  • Inheritance of mutations in genes BRCA2, BRCA1 and CHEK2
  • Exposure to female hormones (natural and administered)
  • A previous breast cancer diagnosis
  • A past history of certain non-cancerous breast conditions
  • Lifestyle factors (being overweight, not enough physical activity and drinking alcohol)

Some of the symptoms to look for include:

  • New lumps or lumpiness in the breast or under the arm
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • Nipple sores such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
  • Nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
  • Skin of the breast dimpling
  • Rash or red swollen breasts
  • Unusual pain that won’t go away

It is important that all women know what they can do to help find breast cancer early. So if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is recommended you visit your GP as soon as possible. Finding breast cancer early means there are more treatment options and the chances of survival are greater.

Ovarian cancer

The eighth most common cancer affecting women in Australia, ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the ovary, fallopian tube or peritoneum grow in an uncontrolled way. There are three main types of ovarian cancer:

1. Common epithelial type – Arises from the cells on the outside of the ovary

2. Germ cell type – Arises from the cells which produce eggs

3. Rare stromal type – Arising from supporting tissue within the ovary

Some of the symptoms and risk factors to look out for include:


Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until is has spread within the pelvis and stomach. At this late stage, it is more difficult to treat and can be fatal. Therefore, women need to be vigilant and see their doctor if they are experiencing any of the above symptoms or risk factors.  

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way. There were 898 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in Australia in 2014, with the risk of being diagnosed by age 85, 1 in 155.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by persistent infection with some high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Other risk factors also include smoking and exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), an artificial form of female hormone estrogen. Additionally, some of the symptoms and risk factors you may experience include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Leg pain or swelling
  • Low back pain

Gynecological health

Bleeding and discharge are a normal part of the menstrual cycle. However, added symptoms during menstruation may indicate health issues. Unusual symptoms such as bleeding between menstruations and frequent urination can mimic other health conditions. Vaginal issues could also indicate serious problems such as STIs or reproductive tract cancer. And if left unchecked, they can lead to conditions such as infertility or kidney failure.

Pregnancy issues

Being pregnant is an exciting time, however it is also a scary time. That is why it is important to be surrounded by support and guidance throughout your entire pregnancy to ensure the physical and psychological wellbeing of you and your baby.

Pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes and depression can worsen during pregnancy if not managed properly. Pregnancy can also cause a healthy mother’s red blood cell count to drop, a condition called anemia, or even induce depression.

Fortunately, GPOs can manage and treat common and rare health issues that emerge during pregnancies. Antenatal care before, during and after your pregnancy can detect abnormalities and preventable illnesses in both mother and child. So expectant parents who have questions surrounding pregnancy should consider seeking antenatal advice.

How St John Medical can help

At St John Medical, we provide a range of specialised women’s health care services catering to women of all ages across Perth. Our experienced doctors and nurses will provide you with a wealth of practical information, advice, counselling and treatment for a broad range of women’s health issues.

We firmly believe in a holistic approach to women’s health, which is why we work with you to take care of any medical issues to improve your health and wellbeing. We build close relationships with our patients, allowing you to be comfortable with our staff who get to know you are your medical history better.

We have four clinics with specialist women’s health professionals located in Armadale, Cannington, Cockburn and Joondalup. So whether you require a check-up or want to discuss a personal medical issue, we employ a discrete team of doctors and nurses who are always friendly and professional.

Some of the women’s health services we offer at all four of our St John Medical centres include, but are not limited to:

  • Pregnancy testing
  • Contraception (including emergency contraception)
  • IUD insertion
  • Pap smears
  • Breast examinations
  • Menstrual problems
  • Menopause
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs)
  • Vaginal infections
  • Termination counselling
  • Depression

Make your health a priority. To see any of our expert doctors or nurses, book in an appointment with St John Medical today.

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