Educational Resources and Useful Links
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If you have recently had surgery and have been informed that you will go home with a urinary catheter, there is some important information that you need to know.
Please read the following brochure for more information:
Cervical Cancer can be prevented by early detection of abnormal changes to the cervix and offering appropriate treatment. This is achieved by routine cervical screening.
Women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 are invited to routine cervical screening every 5 years in Australia.
Cervical screening is a simple test performed by your GP, nurse or healthcare worker.
Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix. You may be referred to the colposcopy clinic if your cervical screening test has returned an abnormal result. It is important to remember that this does not automatically mean you have cervical cancer.
A colposcope is a special kind of magnifying glass that allows the specialist doctor to have a closer look at the cells on the cervix.
If you have been referred to the colposcopy clinic and would like more information:
Contraception means preventing a pregnancy from occurring. There are many contraceptive options available. These include:
- Oral contraceptive pill
- Condoms (male and female)
- Hormonal vaginal ring
- Diaphragm and cervical cap
- Contraceptive injection
- Long acting reversible contraception (LARC) – Hormonal implant, hormonal IUD’s and Copper IUD
- Fertility Awareness Based Methods
- Emergency contraception
- Female/ Male sterilisation
Contraceptive choice is a very personal decision and is different for each person. It is important to consider your individual needs, the effectiveness of each option against pregnancy, possible side effects, cost and availability, protection against sexually transmitted infections and how easily the contraceptive can be reversed.
For more information on the different contraception options:
Diversity of Gender and Sexual Orientation
LGBTIQ people experience poorer health outcomes compared to the general population which is driven by health issues that disproportionally affect the LGBTIQ community. Unfortunately LGBTIQ people experience a high level of social stigma, discrimination and social isolation which causes a great deal of mental and emotional distress.
NSW Health has made a commitment to improve the health outcomes of LGBTIQ people and communities by implementing a clear strategy to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable and ensuring every person has access to adequate healthcare.
For more information on the NSW LGBTIQ Health Strategy 2022 – 2027, follow the link:
Maple Leaf House provides specialist holisitic healthcare to young trans and gender diverse children, adolescents and young people up to the age of 24 within the Newcastle region. For more information please contact:
Maple Leaf House
56 Stewert Avenue, Hamilton East NSW 2302
For more information and resources that support trans and gender diverse people and their families in NSW:
Domestic and Family Violence
Domestic and family violence is when someone uses violence or manipulation to control someone they are close to. Violence does not have to be physical. It can be in the form of verbal, psychological, emotional or sexual abuse. It can also involve social isolation or financial abuse. Children can also be exposed to domestic violence and this can have devastating impacts on a child’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service if you are experiencing any form of abuse from another person and need support.
For NSW – Domestic Violence Line 1800 811 811
The term “ectopic” means in the wrong place. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg settles in a location other than the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube.
Although the egg is fertilised, an ectopic pregnancy is not capable of survival. It is diagnosed by pregnancy test, pelvic examination or ultrasound scan.
Risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy include:
- Previous pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- History of fertility treatments
- A previous ectopic pregnancy
- Any operation on the fallopian tubes
Signs and symptoms include:
- Pregnancy symptoms such as a missed period, morning sickness, breast tenderness
- Pain in the lower abdomen or lower back
- Cramps on one side of the pelvis
- Shoulder tip pain
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- If the fallopian tube ruptures: sudden severe abdominal pain, dizziness and or collapse can occur rapidly.
The treatment for ectopic pregnancy depends on how severe your symptoms are, how advanced your pregnancy is and whether or not your fallopian tube has ruptured.
For more information on Ectopic pregnancy and management
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus (womb) is found in other areas of the body. Most commonly this tissue is found in the pelvis. Endometriosis can cause significant pain during a period cycle but can also affect fertility. Other symptoms include pain with sex, back pain, pain during other times of the menstrual cycle, pain with bowel motions and fatigue.
If you have had unprotected sexual intercourse or there have been issues such as a missed pill or broken condom, emergency contraception is available at pharmacies to help prevent pregnancy.
For more information:
Fertility and Pregnancy – OHSS
Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy within 12 months of unprotected intercourse in people under 35yrs of age or within 6 months for people over 35yrs of age. Infertility can effect up to 15% of couples.
Infertility can be affected for many reasons. If you are experiencing difficulties falling pregnant, you should first make an appointment with your GP so they can undertake investigations.
Fibroids are non cancerous growths that develop in and around the muscle layer of the womb (uterus). Fibroids are common later in reproductive years and often get smaller once women go through menopause.
Most fibroids remain small and don’t cause many problems. However larger or multiple fibroids can cause symptoms such as:
- Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding
- pelvic and lower back pain, particularly during a period
- pain during intercourse
- difficulty with passing urine or a bowel motion
Fibroids are more common in women over the age of 35, obese persons, if you’re first period commenced early in life, have never given birth, have a family history of fibroids, have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD) or Molar Pregnancy
Gestational Trophoblastic disease (GTD) is a rare form of pregnancy that occurs in 1 out of every 1200 pregnancies. It is also known as a molar pregnancy.
The most common form of GTD is known as hydatiform mole. This describes an abnormal growth of the placenta. A placenta is the part of the pregnancy that feeds the baby all its required nutrients to grow inside of you. As the placenta grows abnormally, it produces high levels of pregnancy hormones that makes the woman feel pregnant.
Sadly a molar pregnancy does not continue as the baby does not develop at all.
For more information on Molar Pregnancy please see below:
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding is described as prolonged or excessive blood loss that has an impact on your quality of life. It is difficult to determine whether your bleeding is too heavy because everyone experiences periods differently.
Some signs of excessive heavy bleeding include:
- Soaking through a pad or tampon every hour or less
- Passing clots greater than the size of a 50c piece
- Losing more than 80mls of blood (equates to 5-6 tablespoons of blood)
- Having to change your pad or tampon through the night
- Bleeding through clothing
- Bleeding for more than 7-8 days.
Hysteroscopy is a minor procedure that is used to look inside the uterus (womb). Hysteroscopy is completed in the operating theatres under a general anaesthetic.
A hysteroscopy may be offered to investigate certain problems such as:
- Heavy or irregular bleeding
- Bleeding after menopause
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Finding an intrauterine device
For more information
Menopause represents the end of a woman’s reproductive life. This means the woman has a final menstrual period as the ovaries no longer release any eggs. Menopause usually occurs between 45 – 60 yrs of age. Most women experience menopause at the expected age but some women can experience premature menopause which occurs before the age 40. This can be caused for various reasons such as primary ovarian insufficiency, surgery where the ovaries have been removed or some cancer treatments.
Women can experience a range of symptoms when going through the early stages of menopause (known as perimenopause) as the ovaries begin running out of eggs. Symptoms include hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, night sweats, difficulty sleeping and pain with sex. There are a range of options to help with these symptoms.
Miscarriage and Pregnancy loss
Miscarriage occurs when a pregnancy stops growing. Miscarriage is very common in the few weeks of pregnancy and unfortunately there is usually no identifiable reason why a miscarriage occurs.
A miscarriage can be diagnosed at different stages of the pregnancy. Sometimes women first develop symptoms of pain or bleeding unexpectedly, or examination findings such as blood tests or ultrasound may find a pregnancy has stopped growing.
Eventually the pregnancy will pass through the womb either naturally, taking medication or having surgery.
Following the loss of a pregnancy it is very common to experience grief and have lots of questions. Your GP is always a good place to obtain information about miscarriage or the Early Pregnancy Assessment Service (EPAS) offers support to women experiencing pregnancy complications up to 18 weeks gestation. Your GP can refer women to EPAS for ongoing care during their miscarriage period.
For more information:
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a potentially serious complication of fertility treatment, especially with in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
OHSS can range from mild to severe symptoms. Mild OHSS is common and usually resolves itself overtime however more severe cases require hospital admission with specialist care.
Symptoms can include abdominal swelling, pain, nausea/vomiting, and in more severe cases difficulty breathing, severe thirst and dehydration, forming of blood clots.
For more information on OHSS
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The organs of a woman’s pelvis contain the uterus, vagina, bladder and bowel. Throughout a woman’s lifespan the supporting ligaments and tissue supporting these internal organs can become weak as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, menopause and age, constipation, excessive weight, smoking and/or chronic cough or inherited risks. This weaking can result in the pelvic organs dropping down out of place.
Learn more about different types of pelvic organ prolapses and treatment options:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries. PID is usually caused by having unprotected sex with a partner that has a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Often partners may not know they have an infection as they may not have symptoms.
On rarer occasions PID can occur as a result of a gynaecology procedure or following the insertion of an intrauterine device.
If left untreated, PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes which can cause problems with fertility in the future.
The menstrual cycle is a cycle controlled by female hormones that causes a regular bleed, also known as menstruation or a period. Menstrual cycles are different for each person and can vary from 21-38 days. However there are factors that can affect the length of time between cycles. These include:
- Excessive exercise
- Weight loss
The volume and length of bleeding also varies from one person to another.
The role of the menstrual cycle is to ultimately prepare the body for a possible pregnancy. When a pregnancy has not occurred, a period follows. In Australia, women will experience approximately 450-500 periods in a lifetime.
For more information on Periods:
Painful periods is also known as dysmenorrhoea. It is very common for women to experience pain during a period, and more common in adolescents and women in their 20’s. Most often period pain can be managed with simple remedies such as heatpacks, some herbal remedies or over the counter pain medication. Period pain often resolves on its own without any intervention.
More severe cases of period pain that stops you from being able to complete daily activities or attending school may need further investigation as there may be other causes for period pain. You should make an appointment to see your GP if you experience severe period pain.
For more information:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal problem that affects approximately 8-13% of Australian women.
Women that are diagnosed with PCOS have high levels of male hormones produced from the ovaries which can lead to problems with irregular periods, acne, excessive hair growth to face and body and is also one of the leading causes of fertility problems.
Women with PCOS are also at higher risk of developing other problems such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Higher risk of heart disease and cholesterol
- Cancer of the uterus (womb)
- Anxiety and Depression
- Sleep apnoea
- Problems with weight management
- Problems with sex and relationships
For more information:
Post Menopausal Bleeding
A women is considered to be menopausal when there has been an absence of menstrual bleeding for 12 months. After this time any bleeding at all is not normal.
Up to 1 in 10 women experience bleeding after menopause (also known as post menopausal bleeding) and most often this is nothing to be concerned about. However it is important for any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause to be investigated as it sometimes can be a sign of cancer in the cervix or uterus (womb).
There are a few reasons why post menopausal bleeding may occur. These include:
- Inflammation to the lining of the uterus (womb) or vagina
- Thinning of the lining of the uterus
- Polyps (benign growths) in the cervix or uterus
- Thickening of the lining of the uterus as a result of being on hormone replacement therapy
- Abnormal changes to the cervix or uterus
For more information:
Unplanned pregnancies are common in Australia with approximately 50% of all pregnancies being unplanned. It is normal to feel mixed emotions when finding out that you are pregnant unexpectedly.
Often individuals or couples are left to make the difficult decision if the pregnancy should continue. A range of support services are available to help make decisions on unplanned pregnancies.
Preventing Blood Clots
Sometimes blood can pool inside of veins which can cause a blood clot. Blood clots are a leading cause of preventable death in Australia. Being in hospital increases the risk of developing a blood clot particularly if you have had surgery or aren’t able to move around as usual.
People at risk of developing a blood clot include:
- Patient’s over 60 years of age
- Previous blood clot
- Family history of blood clots
- Pregnancy or recent childbirth
- Patient’s with cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment
- Patients on the contraceptive pill
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Patient’s with a chronic illness or blood disease.
For more information:
Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells causing abnormal cells to grow and invade our normally healthy tissue and organs.
Most cancers begin in an organ known as the primary site. Sometimes cancer cells can break off and spread to other tissues or organs via the bloodstream or lymph nodes. This is called metastasis.
There are some cancers that are specific to the reproductive organs.
For more information follow these useful links:
Cancer of the Cervix
Cancer of the Ovaries
Cancer of the Uterus
Cancer of the Vagina
Cancer of the Vulva
Cancer of the Fallopian Tube
Sex and Intimacy after Cancer
A cancer diagnosis can greatly impact a person physically, emotionally and mentally. Some treatments of cancer can have significant side effects and affect a woman’s appearance which can lead to poor self-esteem and body image issues, ultimately impacting on relationships. For some people this may be temporary while others may find these issues to be long term.
Cancer and the treatments for cancer can also affect a person’s fertility. Some cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy can damage the organs that are needed to produce a pregnancy such as the ovaries. Your treating team will discuss your options prior to starting treatment if there are concerns for fertility.
For more information:
Sexual Assault is a legal term that describes any unwanted sexual behaviour that is enforced upon another person without consent.
This can include inappropriate kissing, touching, showing indecent images as well as penetration of a person with either a body part or object.
Sexual assault is a crime in Australia and you have the option to report any sexual assault to police. It is also your choice to seek medical care after a sexual assault but it is important to remember that presenting to hospital or seeing a doctor does not mean that you have to make a police report.
Support services are available to persons experiencing sexual assault. NSW Health Sexual Assault Services are located in all local health districts across NSW and provide free advice and counselling, information and support, medical care, forensic examination and court preparation.
Local NSW Health Sexual Assault Services can be found below
Sex and sexuality are an important part of women’s health and wellbeing across the lifespan. Finding healthy relationships is an important process and is built on mutual respect, trust and compromise which enables both parties to be in control of their sex life.
Practicing safe sex can greatly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), and also reduces the chance of unplanned pregnancy.
For more information:
Violence against Women
Vulval and Vaginal Conditions
The vulva is a woman’s external genitalia. The vagina is the internal tube that connects the uterus (womb) to the outside of the body. There are a number of conditions that can affect the vagina and vulva. Most conditions are easily treated but some symptoms may be more serious and need further investigation.
More information on symptoms and conditions can be found below.