Dr Nisha discusses Women's health. "It's time to stop putting up with symptoms, assuming that these are normal, or that nothing can be done about it."
Women make up half the population of Australia, and may experience health issues or have health needs uniquely related to their biology, in a way that men often do not. Menstrual problems, pregnancy, contraception, hormone-linked psychological or metabolic disorders (PMS/PMDD or PCOS), gynaecological cancers, menopause - there are so many areas that there is an entire specialty dedicated to the care of womens' health issues.
And yet it is often an area of health that can be misunderstood and stigmatised; many women just put up with symptoms, assuming that these are normal, or that nothing can be done about it.
It is not uncommon that I will have a patient who will apologise for wasting my time with their problem - their period pain is horrible today, and they need a certificate for work. Further questioning may reveal that they are crippled with pain every month and may have an underlying problem such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, and that investigation and treatment options have never been discussed with them before.
There are those who have had extremely heavy periods for months without realising that this should be investigated, may have made them iron deficient or even anaemic, and that there are treatments available.
And then there are those who attend telling me they have just had a positive pregnancy test. My next question is usually, 'What are your plans from now?' Whether the answer is, 'Get ready to have a baby' or 'I don't want this' or 'I don't know', I am here to help with the next steps without judgment.
Whether it's discussing the right contraceptive option for you, the next steps after finding yourself pregnant, keeping up to date with pap smears, or problematic menstrual or menopausal symptoms, your GP is best placed to help you be your best self.
Dr Nisha Iyer
MBBS, FRACGP, CWH (Certificate of Women's Health)
Consulting 4 days a week at Next Practice Prahran.