During menopause

Are you struggling with loneliness brought on by menopause? Despite the fact that it happens to all women, many are left feeling isolated and lonely throughout their menopause journey. This, in turn, can cause mental health to suffer, leading to issues with anxiety and depression.

As May 9th-15th marks Mental Health Awareness Week, we felt it was a good time to talk about feeling lonely during the menopause. Why does it lead to a feeling of isolation, and what can be done about it? Discover everything you need to know in this useful blog.

How common is loneliness during menopause?

Loneliness and isolation are surprisingly common for women. It can cause feelings of loneliness as well as contribute to them. There are a lot of theories as to why this is, but whatever the cause, the loneliness experienced can be really difficult to deal with.

Unfortunately, many women don’t feel able to talk about their experiences as they go through the menopause. While there has been some progress made in recent years to raise awareness of the effects the milestone has on women’s mental health, it is still very much a taboo topic for many. Not feeling comfortable discussing their experiences can further exacerbate the feelings of loneliness.

Why do many women feel lonely?

There are a lot of theories as to why women feel lonely during menopause. Just some of the reasons may include:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Embarrassment
  • Stigma

During menopause, a woman’s hormone levels fluctuate, leading to side effects such as irritability and mood swings. As oestrogen levels fall, the need to nurture others also reduces. This all contributes to feelings of loneliness as it can make them more difficult to be around.

Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue can also play a large role. Many women end up feeling utterly exhausted during menopause, giving them less energy for social get togethers. Anxiety and depression make it easier to isolate, as does the embarrassment that often accompanies menopause.

There is still a stigma attached to menopause, making it difficult for women to speak out about how they feel. All these factors together can understandably lead to loneliness and isolation.

What can be done about it?

Although loneliness is a common feeling, there are things that can help. First, understanding the cause of loneliness is important. It can be really useful to connect with other women who are experiencing the same thing. Social media and local community groups are great for meeting others going through the same experiences.

Managing the effects of the menopause is also crucial. At SureScan, we provide an annual menopause health check which can help identify and treat any issues women are experiencing. To book a menopause health check, contact our friendly team today.

after a miscarriage

Suffering a miscarriage can be devastating, particularly if you have been trying to get pregnant for a long time. According to the Miscarriage Association, one in five pregnancies in the UK end in a miscarriage, resulting in a total of around 250,000 each year. Furthermore, 1 in 100 women goes on to suffer recurring miscarriages of three or more.

While it may be more common than you might realise, that doesn’t make going through a miscarriage any easier to deal with. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go on to have a healthy pregnancy.

If you are thinking of trying again after a miscarriage, help and support are available. Here, we reveal the main things to consider and the support available should you need it.

Speaking to your doctor

When you suffer a miscarriage, it is important to speak to your doctor. While in most cases, women do go on to have a healthy pregnancy after experiencing a miscarriage, there could be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. This is especially true if you have experienced recurring miscarriages.

Your doctor will also be able to advise you on when you can start trying again and refer you to a specialist if needed.

How long should I leave it before trying again?

There really is no set answer here. However, you should always wait until you are both emotionally and physically ready to try again.

Physically speaking, you should wait until the symptoms of the miscarriage have passed. This includes any bleeding or pain you might experience. If you don’t wait until these symptoms have cleared up, you do risk developing an infection.

Emotionally, you will know when you are ready to start trying again. Keep in mind that it is possible to ovulate before you have your next period. During this time, you may still be fertile, which means you could get pregnant again. If you aren’t quite ready for that yet, make sure you use contraception until you are.

Your menstrual cycle will likely be shorter or longer during the first month after the miscarriage. For this reason, it is often recommended you begin trying again after your next period.

Seeking help and support after a miscarriage

Going through a miscarriage can be a traumatic time, especially if it isn’t your first one. If you need to, don’t be afraid to reach out for support.

There are a lot of wonderful support groups out there, as well as professional emotional support available. You can also get help to determine why you are experiencing multiple miscarriages.

At SureScan, we provide a recurrent miscarriage service that will help to identify any underlying issues you might be experiencing. You can sit down for a comprehensive appointment with one of our friendly and understanding consultants. Book an initial consultation with our expert team today.

PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects 4-20% of women of reproductive age worldwide. While it is normal for women to experience some changes in their menstrual cycle from time to time, consistent changes could be a sign of this common condition.

A new Apple Women’s Health study has now revealed preliminary insights into PCOS, including its potential causes and association with heart health. Here, we will look at what the study found, and how to determine if you might be suffering from the condition.

Study shows 23% of women have a family history of PCOS

According to a recent study, 23% of patients have a family history of PCOS. If your mother or sister have experienced the condition, there is an increased risk that you could too. Only around 5% of participants in the study who didn’t have the condition, had a family history of PCOS.

The Apple Women’s Health study began in November 2019. Data for the preliminary findings were taken from over 37,000 participants up until December 2021.

Interestingly, the findings revealed that those with PCOS are at risk of developing heart-related issues. These include Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

The research remains ongoing, with participants able to join and contribute at any time.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common hormonal condition that affects women of reproductive age. It can cause irregular periods, as well as excess production of the male androgen hormone. Collections of fluid can develop within the ovaries, and they may fail to regularly release any eggs.

It isn’t known what causes PCOS, but with early treatment and lifestyle changes such as losing weight, you can avoid developing long-term complications.

Diagnosing PCOS

It can be difficult to initially determine if you are suffering from PCOS as changes within the menstrual cycle are common. However, there are symptoms you can watch out for to determine if the condition could be causing your abnormal periods. They include:

  • Your period is abnormally heavy and impacts your daily routine
  • The last period you had lasted for more than 10 days
  • You experience your periods more than 38 days, or less than 24 days apart
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Your periods have stopped completely

These symptoms can be a sign of PCOS, but they could also point to other potential issues too. Therefore, if you do experience any of the above, it is important to seek a professional diagnosis.

At SureScan, our specialist gynaecology services can help to detect a range of menstrual disorders. Book a consultation with our friendly and professional team to identify the cause of your abnormal periods today.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) sometimes known as non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS) is a blood test taken from a mother in pregnancy. It is a way of examining fetal DNA to determine the risk that the foetus is likely to be born with chromosomal conditions. This additional testing is not compulsory and you can choose to opt-out. It’s important that you feel supported and well informed in relation to this decision.

What Does Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing Involve?

NIPT is a simple blood test that is more accurate than the first pregnancy screening test. It is only routinely offered to women who are considered to be at higher risk.

During pregnancy, the placenta releases some of its DNA into the mother’s bloodstream which can then be measured through a simple blood test. The blood test identifies extra DNA for chromosomes 21, 18 or 13.  This could mean that the child will be born with Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.

When to get Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing?

NIPT can be performed from 10 weeks of pregnancy as prior to this it is difficult to collect enough cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from the blood sample. Even after 10 weeks, there is a chance that they will not be able to collect enough cfDNA to provide a result. This happens in about 3% of cases.

The test is considered to be completely safe and will not harm either the mother or the baby. The results typically take around 10 days and do not provide a definitive yes/no answer but instead offer a probability. It is important to remember however that no screening test is 100% accurate. There are three possible outcomes from the test. These are: low chance result, high chance result or no result if there has been a technical issue with testing.

The test result may indicate that there is a high chance of chromosomal anomalies. If this is the case, then it is likely an amniocentesis will be offered to provide a definite diagnosis.

Early Pregnancy Screening

At SureScan we offer a wide range of comprehensive services that can help to support you during early pregnancy. This would include an abdominal or transvaginal scan to determine if there is a viable pregnancy. We can also organise blood tests to measure HCG levels if needed. NIPT testing is also available which can be carried out as early as 9 weeks.

We support you throughout the whole process in order to understand what the test involves, the delivery of the results and future planning and implications for pregnancy. Get in touch with us if you would like to find out more.

Fertility and Diet

A Harvard review of fertility and diet has revealed that eating a nutrient-dense diet can have a positive effect on both fertility and pregnancy health.

It is vitally important that mothers-to-be have a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. This will help to ensure that both mother and baby have sufficient nutrients for optimum development.

It is also important to remember that the nutritional status of both mother and father come together and are reflected in the health of the embryo. Studies have shown that semen quality improves along with a healthy diet. But a diet high in saturated and trans fats could be detrimental to sperm health.

Fertility and Diet – Why change?

Essential vitamins and minerals are dietary components that support every stage of maternal, placental and foetal interaction to enable a healthy gestation. However, setting appropriate recommendations for vitamin and mineral intakes during pregnancy can be challenging. There are a number of factors to consider, including foetal nutrient needs and additional maternal demands. But also changes in nutrient absorption that may occur during pregnancy.

In the UK, diets are typically diverse and less likely to cause micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy. However, diets of higher fat and sugar and lower nutrient density are increasingly consumed. Many pregnant women are not having their recommended daily intake of some key vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and Minerals

Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 can both have a positive effect on fertility both before and after conception. These vitamins are vital in maintaining a healthy nervous system. Folic acid in its most natural form is called folate. This is found naturally within green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, green beans, peas, oranges and brown rice. Vitamin B12 can be found in meat, fish and dairy foods and can be easily obtained through diet alone.

Other beneficial foods include getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil and fatty fish. Choose fish such as salmon, trout and tuna that are rich in Omega-3. Fatty acids can also be obtained from plant-based sources like seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and kidney beans.

Foods to Avoid

If you are planning to get pregnant then it is advisable to avoid high sugar, carbonated drinks. Especially avoid those foods with synthetic energy-boosting properties. Evidence also suggests that women who consume a calorie-rich, processed diet are less likely to become pregnant when compared with those with healthier diets.

Fertility and Diet Advice

At SureScan we understand that fertility and pregnancy can feel daunting with the wealth of information that is available. That is why we offer our support and guidance to all women during this stage. Get in touch today and speak to our friendly team to arrange a consultation with one of our professionals.

Menopause Health

A recent study found that women experiencing symptoms of menopause feel that there are minimal or non-existent support structures put in place by their employer, to help them cope.

More than 1 million women in the UK are considering quitting their jobs due to a lack of support in the workplace. Furthermore, women have been left feeling deeply unhappy in their jobs due to a lack of menopause health support.

Employers Responsibility

Nearly three-quarters of women who took part in the research that involved 2,000 women, said their workplace did not have a space where they could talk openly about the menopause with their colleagues or employers. This lack of support even exacerbated their feelings of isolation and distress.

In order for employees to feel heard and valued, it is essential that support is offered through every stage of menopause. For example, considering how the person’s job role and responsibilities could make their menopause symptoms harder to cope with.

It is also important for companies to ensure that those in managerial roles have the confidence and skills to support their team. That includes an awareness of what the organisation can offer, whilst also having sensitive communication skills to listen to and acknowledge their employees’ concerns.

Menopause Health Legislation

By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their staff through the use of risk assessments. In relation to menopause, this can include a number of considerations. For example, by addressing conditions such as the temperature of the workplace, employee uniforms and the availability of drinking water. This would help to accommodate for hot flushes – a common symptom of menopause. Additionally, by providing training to managers so that they feel confident in how to support staff with their menopause health.

There are currently ongoing discussions within the House of Commons on the laws that protect women in the workplace who are experiencing menopause symptoms.

Menopause Health Check

Here at SureScan, we want women to feel supported through menopause which is why we offer a comprehensive menopause health check. We recommend that women attend these checks at least once a year.

Our menopause health check involves a consultation with one of our Consultant Gynaecologists. They can perform a wide range of health checks including blood pressure, abdominal and pelvic examination, advice on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), blood tests, ovarian and cervical screening plus lots more. Get in touch today to find out more and book an appointment.

Fibroids Treatment

Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas are benign tumours that develop in or around the uterus and are thought to impact up to 80% of women before the age of 50.

A new study in the Netherlands is comparing the results of different types of fibroids treatment with the results expected to be published in 2026. The trial was driven by current treatment options failing women and a need for more minimally invasive treatments.

What are Fibroids?

Many women are unaware that they have fibroids as they often don’t display any symptoms. However, around 1 in 3 women who do experience symptoms may experience many different symptoms. These symptoms include constipation, pelvic pressure, heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and discomfort during sexual intercourse.

Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or around the womb, also known as the uterus. The growths are typically made up of muscle and fibrous tissue and can vary in size.

Uterine fibroids develop from a smooth muscle stem cell in the uterus which then repeatedly divides until a mass, also known as a fibroid develops. The exact cause is unknown. But there are some common risk factors that could contribute to the development of uterine fibroids which include race, family history, diet, age and weight.

Fibroids Treatment

It is common that fibroids will often shrink after the menopause and symptoms will usually either ease or disappear completely. However, if treatment is necessary then there are several different options.

Initially, a number of medications may be recommended to help manage symptoms and to shrink the fibroids in size. If symptoms cannot be managed with medication or the fibroids are too large, then a non-invasive procedure may be recommended. Treatments may include uterine artery embolisation, endometrial ablation, MRI guided procedures and ultrasound-guided procedures. Another fibroids treatment option is surgery that may involve hysteroscopic intervention, myomectomy or hysterectomy.

Gynaecological Scan

If you are concerned about fibroids, or if you are experiencing symptoms, get in touch today to speak to our dedicated team. We offer comprehensive gynaecological scans and we ensure suitable management plans are put in place.

In our world-class facility, we offer flexible appointments and you can expect a warm greeting from our friendly reception team. Our dedicated consultant gynaecologists will carry out both transabdominal and transvaginal scans in order to identify any abnormalities. They can discuss the results of scans with you there and then, you can ask questions and leave with a clear diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Menopause health check

Vitamins are nutrients that the body requires to carry out even the most basic functions, some of which the body is unable to make autonomously. Therefore, these vitamins and minerals must be sourced externally through lifestyle and diet.

In the UK, data suggests that 27% of people have insufficient or deficient levels of Vitamin D. Worryingly, 74% of people have levels that are considerably below the optimum level for wellbeing.

Vitamin D is especially important for women aged over 40, who have risk factors for osteoporosis. Below, we look at why it is so important that women experiencing menopause consider their levels of Vitamin D.

The Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy muscles and bones. It plays an essential role alongside calcium for calcium absorption, bone mineralisation and bone development. Insufficient Vitamin D levels reduce the amount of calcium that can be absorbed, causing bones to become brittle and thin.

Vitamin D and Menopause

Postmenopausal women have been the subject of many studies in relation to Vitamin D deficiency due to the links with musculoskeletal diseases. Also looking at changes in Vitamin D metabolism including reduced skin synthesis and changes in body composition. Postmenopausal women with low levels of Vitamin D are more at risk of low muscle function and increased frailty. This could cause an increased risk of fracture injuries.

Furthermore, Vitamin D has been shown to have a positive effect on mood and cognitive performance. Since depression can be one of the symptoms of menopause, this is another reason why you may want to boost your levels of Vitamin D.

Simple Ways to Increase Vitamin D

Increasing your levels of Vitamin D can be done through a number of simple lifestyle changes. These include diet, exposure to sunlight or dietary supplements. Before considering dietary supplements, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional. They can offer expert advice as there are many different types and levels of supplements to consider.

The amount of Vitamin D you need each day varies depending on your age and can range from 200 – 800 international units (IUs). In food and dietary supplements, Vitamin D has two main forms which are D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). These can be found in fortified milk and cereals, fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms.

Most people are able to make enough Vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods of time. However, it is important to be careful not to burn in the sun as this can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.

Menopause Health Check

If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, and are concerned about your Vitamin D levels then get in touch today to book a Menopause Health Check.

One of our expert Consultant Gynaecologists can check your Vitamin D levels and perform a number of other checks. They will also be able to offer guidance on different treatment options should you require them.

Vaginal health

Over the festive period, you may have been lucky enough to have received a cosy new robe, some socks in your stocking or even some new lingerie. But have you ever stopped to think that the type of underwear that you wear may actually be having an effect on your vaginal health?

Natural Fabrics

It’s true that the vulva is a very sensitive and delicate area which is why it’s really important when it comes to the underwear that you choose. One of the simple ways you can do this is by being aware of the material that you are wearing. Experts recommend natural and breathable materials such as cotton that provide natural absorbency.

Synthetic materials such as nylon and spandex don’t allow the area to breathe which in turn can create the perfect environment for yeast infections. In order to tackle this issue, some women report that they use panty liners to absorb excess moisture. However, it’s important to understand that this can in fact leads to increased irritation that can affect your vaginal health.

Go Commando at Night

For women that get regular yeast infections, going without any underwear at night may be the best option. This removes all barriers and will help the area to breathe overnight meaning that moisture is unable to build up. If you don’t want to go completely bare you could opt for loose-fitting pyjama bottoms or a nightgown. But, remember that these will need to be washed frequently.

Are Thongs Bad For My Vaginal Health?

There is no denying that historically some people have blamed thongs as a contributing factor in poor vaginal health. However, recent studies have found that there is no evidence to suggest wearing a thong is linked with urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis (BV). Conversely, research shows that sexual behaviour and hygiene practices are more likely to be the cause.

A study looking at string underwear found that the microenvironment of the vulva did not change according to the style of underwear worn. Additionally, type of underwear had no effect on the PH, skin microclimate or aerobic microflora.

Wash with Care

Underwear sits against one of the most sensitive areas of our bodies for long periods of time. So it comes as no surprise that these delicates should be washed and handled with extra care. It is recommended that underwear should be washed using a gentle, hypo-allergenic soap. This will reduce the risk of developing irritation and allergic reactions.

If you are concerned about symptoms and would like to speak with a professional, then get in touch today. Book a consultation with one of our expert Consultant Gynaecologists who can give you advice on vaginal health and carry out a gynaecological scan.

Sexual health check

STIQ Day is a national awareness day that happens each year on 14 January. It is all about getting the nation thinking about their sexual health and how to protect both themselves and others from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If sexually transmitted infections are left undiagnosed and untreated there is a risk that they could cause complications and long term health issues for both men and women including pelvic inflammatory diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes including ectopic pregnancy, abortion and premature delivery along with neonatal and infant infections, urology-related issues such as urethral strictures and also genital malignancies.

Below are some common sexually transmitted infections. If you notice any symptoms or are concerned about your own or your partner’s sexual health, we encourage you to get in touch and arrange a sexual health check.

Chlamydia & Gonorrhoea

Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK as most people do not notice any symptoms and therefore are unaware that they have them. Although often described as ‘silent’, it can take several weeks for symptoms to appear. These include unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum, pain when urinating, bleeding during or after sex and abdominal pain in women during sex.

If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause infertility and could lead to the development of inflammatory pelvic disease (PID) which is linked to fertility issues. Both chlamydia and gonorrhoea are treated with a simple course of antibiotics.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is characterised by weeping blisters around the genital area which can cause painful and itchy open sores which could last for several days or weeks. These symptoms generally clear up on their own however there is no treatment for this infection and the virus can lay dormant within the body for a long time.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a highly contagious infection that is passed on through unprotected sex. This infection is characterised by sores on the genitals, rectum or around the mouth which generally develop around 2 or 3 weeks after contracting the bacterial infection. This won’t go away on its own and if left untreated can lead to serious health problems. Fortunately, it can be cured with a short course of antibiotics.

HIV and AIDS

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and is transmitted through sexual contact, through injecting contaminated blood or blood products and from mother to child in the womb. AIDS is at the end of the HIV spectrum when the immune system has become so badly damaged from HIV that the person becomes seriously ill.

Get A Sexual Health Check at SureScan

Here at SureScan for Women, we can put both you and your partner’s minds at rest through our full range of sexual health testing, advice and treatment options. Get in touch today to book a Sexual Health Check with one of our dedicated gynaecologists.