Womens Health

The area of contraceptionfertility and maternity/ antenatal care is a huge part of primary care medicine for women and plays a large role in introducing healthy, fit women to General practice for the first time. This is an important aspect of our practice at Galway City Medical Centre and you can read more about these particular services here.

It is clearly evident that screening for Breast, Cervical, Ovarian and Womb issues early has saved many lives and this is a vital part of primary care medicine. Watching out for changes in addition to prompt and early investigations of symptoms can be vital in avoiding potentially serious illnesses. Unusual vaginal bleeding, breast lumps and breast pains can be extremely worrying but are often signs of only minor illness. Nonetheless, they should not be ignored and early investigation and management is essential both for reassurance and to guide treatment options if necessary.

The onset of the Menopause presents issues for many women, whether its causing upsetting symptoms of flushing, mood disturbance, erratic or absent periods or possible issues with bone health/ potential osteoporosis . There is much confusion about the treatment options for the menopausal symptoms and also the potentially deteriorating bone density/ quality (which can lead to easily broken bones) that can be associated with the menopause . Often, a thorough consultation with blood tests and simple scans (“Dexa”) can be very reassurative and clear up any confusion.

Cardiovascular health is no less important and treating high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes in addition to optimising weight, fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, mobility and smoking cessation has been shown to dramatically reduce cardiovascular events such as strokes, heart attacks, leg and lung clots. Addressing these factors has also been shown to improve exercise tolerance, quality of sleep, mood and even slow down the onset of some types of memory impairments ( vascular dementia). We would often suggest once yearly routine reviews with fasting bloods to guide us on an approach to each individual patient to optimise their health and well being.

Cervical Screening/ Smear Tests/ Vaccination against HPV/ Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is one of those illnesses that may be prevented from occurring at all in many cases. Normal cervical cells ( the tissue sitting at the roof of the vagina) must undergo many different levels of changes ( “CIN”) before they can become cervical cancer. Cervical smear tests aim to pick up these changes, during any one of the stages, before they ever become cancerous and these can subsequently be removed, if appropriate, and potentially prevent the cancer from ever starting. All the doctors at Galway City Medical Centre are trained smeartakers and registered with Cervicalcheck ( http://www.cervicalcheck.ie/) This is a test that that can be done on any lady after she has become sexually active. It is provided free of charge to every woman between the age of 25 and 60yrs and is an extremely important test in helping to avoid cancer in women. Some women younger than 25 yrs may be entitled to this test free of charge in certain circumstances under the state provided cervical screening programme and if not, this test can still be provided for a fee through private laboratory services.

Risk factors known to increase the chances of developing changes from normal cervical tissue to pre-cancerous levels include smoking and infection with the virus that causes Genital warts ( HPV or “Human Papilloma Virus”). To cut down ones risk of developing cervical cancer, in addition to smoking cessation, there is a vaccine available, called “Gardasil”, that can be given to girls and boys, (ideally before they become sexually active) that vaccinates against 4 strains of this virus and is thought to reduce the incidence of women developing cervical cancer. The vaccine is currently being offered to some school going adolescent girls, is given in 3 separate doses and is also available to be given here by pre-arrangement.