Women's health toolkit

This Women’s Health Hub is categorised into sections best representing the needs of women at different stages of their lives.

Information and support for patients and carers

Period problems are very common and may affect physical, social and psychological health and well-being. Many women experience one or a number of concerns including; heavy periods, painful periods, infrequent periods, no periods or irregular bleeding.

Many women do not feel confident discussing the period problems they have because they do not realise that what they are experiencing is not normal and they may feel embarrassed to discuss concerns. NHS Choices has an excellent overview of periods and the conditions that can cause the problems women experience.

In addition to the resources listed below there is much useful information to be found on women’s health concerns on the website patient.info.

Menstrual diaries/period trackers are useful and can be found on line or as an app. Useful examples of free-to-download apps:

Further information and resources

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as in the pelvis, ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Women with endometriosis suffer from a range of concerns but the main symptoms are painful periods, painful sex and infertility.

Further information about endometriosis and the care provided can be found from the resources listed below:

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (heavy periods)

Heavy periods are common and can have a significant effect on a woman’s quality of life and ability to function at work or socially. There is not always an underlying cause for the heavy periods but sometimes it is due to problems such as fibroids or endometriosis.

Further information about heavy periods and the care provided can be found in the resources listed below:

Fibroids

Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths made up of musclefibres within the wall of the womb. They are very common and many women are unaware that they have fibroids as they often do not cause any symptoms.

In women who do have symptoms they may cause a range and severity of symptoms including heavy periods, pelvic pressure symptoms including the need to pass urine frequently, pain during sex.

Further information about fibroids can be found in the resources listed below:

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common endocrine condition which may cause a variety of concerns including irregular periods, symptoms of having high levels of androgens, including acne and facial hair, and subfertility. The condition may also affect long-term health such as developing type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol later in life.

Further information about PCOS can be found in the resources listed below:

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome/Dysphoric Disorder. (PMS/PMDD)

Pre-menstrual syndrome is the name for the physical and emotional symptoms that some women experience in the two weeks before a period. The symptoms usually start to resolve once the period starts.

The syndrome affects women in different ways with variable severity and can alter from month to month.

Symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, tiredness, bloating, constipation, headaches which can affect the ability to function at work or socially.

Some women experience more severe symptoms, having a significant impact on life and this is known as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.

Further information about PMS/PMDD can be found in the resources listed below:

Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)

The average age of the menopause in the UK occurs between age 47 and 53. Early menopause happens when a woman’s periods stop before the age of 45. This can happen naturally, or as a side effect of some treatments.

Premature ovarian insufficiency is classified as menopause occurring before the age of 40. Spontaneous POI affects about 1% of women but there are increasing numbers of women experiencing iatrogenic POI caused by surgery or cancer treatments.

The investigations and treatment recommendations are different to those for women experiencing a ‘normal’ menopause.

Further information about POI and the management options can be found in the resources listed below:

Support organisations

  • Endometriosis UK is a support organization with a vision to improve the lives of people affected by endometriosis and work towards a future where it has the least possible impact on those living with the condition
  • Fibroid Network is a UK based, patient led volunteer, support group, serving as a focal point for women’s fibroid and health issues with the aim to improve women with fibroids, healthcare and health education in the United Kingdom and internationally
  • National Association for Pre-menstrual Syndrome supports individual PMS sufferers and promote a greater awareness of PMS and of its treatment
  • Vicious Cycle is a patient-led project, passionate about raising awareness of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and improving the standards of care for those living with the condition
  • The Daisy Network is dedicated to providing support to women with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), also known as Premature Menopause
  • Verity – PCOS is a self-help group with a goal to improve the lives of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).