Women's Health Page
At Moatfield Surgery, we not only want to help you to manage your current health needs, but also to prevent further health problems developing. This page is to help educate women on their own health and how to look after yourselves.
This is even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic and people may struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles and stay motivated.
Taking more exercise, having a healthier diet, achieving a healthy weight, stopping smoking and drinking less alcohol can improve your health and help prevent many long term conditions.
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Gynaecological Health
- Termination of Pregnancy
- Domestic Violence
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.
It's vital that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always have any changes examined by a GP. CoppaFeel have put together a video on how to regularly check your breasts.
We understand with busy lives that remembering to check your breasts can slip the mind. Luckily for you, CoppaFeel have put together a reminder service where you'll get monthly reminders to check your breasts!
Now you know why you should check, sign up for text reminders!
Cervical cancer develops in a woman's cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina). It mainly affects sexually active women aged between 30 and 45.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are cause by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a group of viruses, spread during sexual intercourse or other types of sexual activity. Most women will get some type of HPV infection at some point in their lives. The two highest risk types of HPV are 16 and 18 which cause the vast majority of cervical cancers. There is no treatment for HPV but it is important to remember most infections do not cause any problems and the body clears the virus naturally.
HPV and Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms especially in its early stages. The best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer is by attending cervical screening (previously known as a "smear test") when invited. During cervical screening a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and tested for HPV.
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 25 to 64 to attend cervical screening. Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every 3 years and those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every 5 years. This video will give you an idea of what to expect in your cervical screening appointment
For some women, recieving a smear test can seem like a daunting procedure. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust have several resources and videos in various languages to provide you with trustworthy information and support
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today. In most cases cervical cancer can be prevented through early detection and treatment of abnormal cell changes that occur in the cervix years before cervical cancer develops. In order to do this, we have to educate women on the tools for prevention, detection and screening awareness.
Having your Cervical Screening at Moatfield
Our Cervical Screenings are generally performed by one of our Practice Nurses, Sarah and Claire. If there are any issues or complications during the procedure, a GP can come to assist if required.
We understand that having an intimate examination can be intimidating, so we always give you the option of having a chaperone present for the appointment. This should be offered by the Nurse before the procedure starts, but if at any point you change your mind and feel you would like a chaperone please ask your clinician.
Test results for Cervical Screenings usually come back 7-14 days after your appointment, unless there is a slight delay. Results are sent by post to your home address, or can be seen on your NHS App. If you have not recieved these results after 3 weeks, please contact the Surgery.
Both girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years are offered the HPV vaccine as part of the NHS vaccination programme.
To learn more about the Cervical Cancer Screening, Pap and HPV tests, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) have great recources which we have linked below.
Cervical Cancer Resources
The Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is the time from the first day of a woman's period to the day before her next period. The length of the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman, but the average is to have periods every 28 days. Regular cycles that are longer or shorter than this, from 21 to 40 days, are normal.
Some women will experience painful periods. this is usually caused by the womb contracting to push out the blood. To help manage pain you can take over-the counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Read more about Period Pain
Some women will experience heavier periods than others. This is completely normal. If however your periods are so heavy that they impact your life, help is available. Talk to your GP about your bleeding. It would be useful to keep a diary including how often you change your sanitary protection (towels, tampons or menstrual cup)
Irregular periods can be common during puberty and just before the menopause.
However bleeding between your periods or after intercourse should not be ignored especially if it lasts for more than a few months. Please see your GP to discuss this further.
Read more about Irregular Periods
Stopped or Missed Periods
There are many reasons why you may miss your periods, or why periods may stop altogether. Some common reasons are:
- Sudden Weight Loss
- Being Overweight
- Reasing the Menopause.
If your periods stop and you're concered, see your GP. Read more about stopped or missed periods.
PMS ( Premenstrual Syndrome)
PMS is thought to be linked to changing levels of hormones throught the menstrual cycle.
Not all women get PMS. If you do, the range and severity of symptoms can vary.
Symptoms may include:
- mood swings
- feeling depressed or irritable
- breast tenderness
A severe form of PMS is categorised as Premenstrual dysphoric disorder which can be severely disabling. Please see your GP if you are struggling.
Read more about PMS, including symptoms and treatment.
Termination of Pregnancy
Did you know you can now be treated for abortion care across Sussex? You can call MSI Reproductive Choices UK 24/7 at their Central Call Centre on 0345 300 8090. You can call for information, support or to book treatment.
Their aim is to help make it straightforward for women to find the information they need about abortion care, and to be able to self-refer for a consultation as easily and conveniently as possible. You do not need to be referred by a GP to access their services as you can self-refer via the telephone number above. Or for more information, you could visit their website or view the files below.
Self Referral information, including services
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.
Although a natural part of aging it can be an extremely difficult period of their life for many women and it is often dismissed or diminished within society. If you are struggling please reach out to your GP. Hormone replacement therapy can be a very effective way of treating the menopause but is not for everyone and there are other alternatives which can be used.
Symptoms of the menopause
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- difficulty sleeping
- low mood or anxiety
- reduced sex drive (libido)
- problems with memory and concentration
The Womens Health Concern (WHC)'s put together a very educational fact sheet answering all the FAQ regarding the menopause.
Menopause Support aims to highlight the menopause and discuss treatment options honestly.
Another excellent resource is My Menopause Doctor which aims to educate women more on the menopause.
Do you feel safe at home?
We at moatfield take domestic violence very seriously. So seriously infact we have a full page dedicated to resources, help guides and organisations that can support you.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
A surprising common medical condition with up to 8% of women experiencing it in some form.
Feeling of heaviness around the stomache or genitals
Dragging discomfort inside the vagina
Feeling like something is coming down the vagina
discomfort during sex
problems urinating i.e incontinence
Please see your GP if you are suffering with any of the above symptoms.
Common causes include being overweight, childbirth and getting older.
Often good regular pelvic floor exercises can help but sometimes vagina pessaries or surgery is required.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraception
There are lots of different methods of contraception to choose to suit your lifestyle and personal preferences, such as the Contraceptive Implant, Intrauterine Device (IUD) or Intrauterine System (IUS).
To give you a general idea of what type of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) may suit you, the FPA have put together a helpful guide. If you would like to discuss your options, and work out the contraceptive options that would suit you best, please book an appointment with a GP.
Lack of Sexual Desire / Arousal
A lack of sexual desire and/or a lack of sexual arousal may be caused by physical problems (in the body), psychological problems (in the mind) or a mixture of both. Many women experience a temporary reduction in sexual desire at some point in their lives, particularly during or after pregnancy, or at times of stress, and does not usually cause too much of a problem. If these symptoms continue long-term, are present all or most of the time, and/or cause you distress, then you should see your doctor for advice.
Symptoms of a lack of sexual desire and/or arousal may include:
Reduced or no interest in sexual activity
Reduced or no sexual or erotic thoughts or fantasies
Not wanting to start sexual activity or respond to a partner’s attempts to start it
No triggering of sexual desire with sexual or erotic stimulus (read, heard or seen)
Reduced or no feelings of sexual excitement or pleasure during sexual activity
Reduced or no feeling in the genitals or other areas during sexual activity
For information, and details of potential treatment options, the Sexual Advice Association have created this leaflet
Last Updated 23/01/2024