HEALTH AND WELLBEING // How Women Can Get Proactive About Their Health
As women across the globe celebrate International Women’s Day, we thought we’d have a chat about women’s health issues. What are the challenges for women? And what are the long term impacts of putting ourselves at the bottom of life’s priority list?
So we had a cuppa with Dr Amanda Hipwell, one of the lovely doctors at Walker Street General Practice in Bowral, and asked her for some advice on what us ladies should be keeping an eye out for, and how we can get proactive about our health.
And we learnt loads…….
What would you say are the biggest health challenges for women in 2020?
It depends on the age group. Younger women are focusing on preparing for pregnancy and planning to get pregnant, or trying not to get pregnant. In middle age, I’m seeing women who are preparing for menopause or right in the middle of it. And then I have mature-age patients who have gone through menopause and are now dealing with the challenge of how to stay fit and healthy when dealing with issues like arthritis or chronic pain.
Busyness is also a big factor impacting women’s health. Many women often ignore initial symptoms and we quite often don’t see them until it’s later in the illness because they keep going until they’ve literally run out of steam and it impacts their daily life.
Another challenge for women that I see a lot is fatigue related issues. Iron deficiency is common, and menopause also contributes to fatigue. Low energy levels can also be due to a lack of exercise and general fitness. We tend to slow down as we get older and fatigue can be the result.
Depression is a very big cause of fatigue. We are definitely seeing more mental health challenges in recent years. Actually, women are quite good at asking for help around mental health which is a good thing.
And did you know one of the first symptoms of coeliac disease is fatigue without bowel related symptoms? If someone tells us they’re fatigued, one of the initial screens carried out may include coeliac testing. And we will also look for iron deficiencies, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies as well as depression.
Oooh okay, we need to get a little more proactive, right?
Women definitely need to make time for themselves. You have to look after yourself in order to look after everyone else! Women’s health has so many complexities to it, so being proactive is vital.
So, how can we do that?
Education is very important. Inform yourself about women’s health from the right resources (googling symptoms doesn’t count!). Family Planning Australia, the Australasian Menopause Society and the Jean Hailles for Women’s Health websites share a lot of factual and reliable information.
Schedule regular check-ups. Get ahead of the game and have yearly check-ups with your GP. I book mine in every year around my birthday so it’s easy for me to remember! We don’t want women waiting until they get to the point of falling apart. So many people worry they are making an appointment for no reason, but we’d rather get on top of any issues sooner rather than later.
Our team at Walker Street General Practice have made it easier for women who wish to be proactive about their health. We are passionate about women's health and really proud of our relatively new Women's Health Clinic, the first in the Highlands, that provide comprehensive health checks for women aged 25 years and above. The check-up takes approximately 30 minutes and is tailored to you - breast examinations, cervical screening, other pelvic health issues including bowel and bladder screening, menopause, mental health, fatigue and so on.
It’s time to get moving and incidental exercise is the way to go. Park at the bottom of the Woollies car park and walk up the ramp. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or park your car a few blocks away from your office. We recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least five times a week – incidental exercise is the way to squeeze that into a busy schedule.
Everything is better with friends, right? Organise to exercise with a small group of friends. If you have some accountability, you’re less likely to back up. Organise to go for a walk together at a set time on a set day once or twice a week.
Find the right doctor for you. This is so important. You need a GP you feel comfortable with, really like and can tell anything to. Find the right person and keep looking until you find one. We are open to new patients and would be happy to look after our women in our great local community.
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Walker Street General Practice is a friendly and family-focused general practice located in Bowral. Their team of doctors have extensive medical experience and the passion to provide you with the best possible care. The Women’s Health Clinic is run by a team of talented female doctors and offers comprehensive health checks for women aged 25 and above. Click here for more information or to book an appointment online. And give them a call on 02 4861 3855.
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