Obstetrics and gynaecology presents some of the most challenging issues in medicine
General Health In all areas of women’s health, we must place the needs of women at the heart of everything we do and remember that women’s lives are changing.
Women are now living half of their lives after completing their families and we need to ensure that this longevity is free from preventable problems. Historically, we concentrated on providing treatment for women when they presented with a particular illness, we are now moving towards a life-course approach, using every interaction with a woman to promote healthy living and focusing on prevention.
The age at which women are having their first baby has increased significantly over the past three decades, due to a variety of social, professional and financial factors and this trend shows no sign of reversing. A recent RCOG survey revealed worrying gaps in knowledge about fertility and reproductive health amongst 16-24 year olds. Men and women should both be aware that their fertility starts to decline from the mid-30s onwards. For those women who face future infertility because of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, egg-freezing technology has developed over a number of years and we welcome further scientific advances in this field.
During the last 50 years, the UK’s cervical screening programme has reduced rates of cervical cancer by 70%. However, in 2014 only 63% of women in the UK aged 25-29 had a cervical smear test. Thanks to cervical screening and the introduction of HPV vaccination, cervical cancer is now largely preventable but we need to promote a national rollout of HPV testing and more research into self-testing in order to improve uptake and further reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in the UK.
Ovarian cancer remains the ‘silent killer’ due to the challenge of recognising early symptoms of the disease which frequently mimic those seen in benign conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the fact that there is no simple test to diagnose the disease. It is crucial that we continue to raise awareness of symptoms and risk factors since survival rates can rise to over 90% for women diagnosed with early stage disease.
This campaign takes a central focus on women’s cancer with the aim of encouraging awareness around the signs and symptoms and the important role of early diagnosis, and advice on preserving fertility during cancer treatment. I hope you find the content covered informative, inspiring and educational.