In light of Women’s Health Week, which is celebrated throughout the country from the 4th to the 8th of September, we take a look at what medical professionals should be keeping in mind when it comes to female patients.
Women often put others first
As women lead busier lifestyles than they ever had before, juggling work, friends and family commitments, there is a tendency for females to let their health slip lower on their list of priorities. It could be very likely that women will downplay their conditions or avoid taking tests or attending check-ups. When she does attend an appointment, it may be worth taking extra time to look at other tests she may be overdue for as well as address the condition she is coming to you about.
Mental Health is Important
Mental health is something that affects both men and women, however GPs and other medical professionals should keep in mind that women experience mental health conditions more often. To put this into perspective, approximately 1 in 5 women here in Australia will experience depression, 1 in 3 will experience anxiety, and the chances of experiencing these conditions are increased during pregnancy and the year after giving birth.
Don’t Assume Things Are Psychosomatic
While mental health is a very large factor regarding women’s health, it’s important for medical professionals to take symptoms seriously and not assume they are psychosomatic. Coming to the doctor’s office is a big deal for patients, and so the fact they are coming to you at all should suggest that something is not right.
There will be times where mental health issues will be presenting as physical symptoms, however make sure you are asking the right questions and monitoring their progress to ensure you are giving the correct diagnosis.
Women Can Show Different Symptoms
Men and women aren’t just different in terms of their reproductive organs, sometimes the symptoms of conditions will vary depending on gender as well. Heart attacks, for example, can present differently in men and women. While men are more likely to suffer the most common symptom (chest pain), women can have symptoms that they may not link to their heart at all, such as discomfort between the shoulder blades, nausea, unexplained weakness or even flu-like symptoms.
Women are more susceptible to certain conditions
Some conditions are going to present more often in women than they do in men. Just some examples are breast cancer, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome and osteoporosis.