There are a wide range of range of screening services available to women of all ages. Here, Sarah Cahill, GP at LifeCycle Women’s Health Clinic, Salthill, Galway outlines to Irish Country Living how to access them:

1. Cervical Check

This screening service available to all women aged 25 to 65 in Ireland. Treating cell changes early can prevent cervical cancer from developing. Women can register on the Cervical Check website or check when their next screening test is due. Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation in secondary school is another important route to prevent cervical cancer.

2. Breast Check

This screening service is available to all women aged 50 to 69 and involves a mammogram every two years. This checks for cancers in the breasts which are too small to see or feel. Check the register on to see when your next screening test is due, or to register.

3. Menstrual health

Some women and girls suffer with their periods more than others. Periods that are heavy or painful enough for women or girls to be missing work or school or unable to carry out their usual sporting or other activities are not normal. Periods may also be irregular or absent. The first port of call is to visit the GP. Symptoms can be managed with non-hormonal medications, contraceptive pills or intrauterine coils. Further investigation is sometimes required – for example, hormone blood tests or ultrasound and in some cases referral to a gynecologist for further investigation. It is important not to put up with symptoms, as it can have a huge impact on quality of life and certain conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect fertility.

Sarah Cahill, GP at LifeCycle Women’s Health Clinic, Salthill, Galway

4. Urinary incontinence

There are a number of different forms – the main ones being stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is when a person leaks urine when there is increased pressure in the bladder, eg, when they laugh, cough or sneeze. Urge incontinence is when a person gets a sudden urge to pass urine and can’t hold it until they get to a toilet. There are many possible causes, including pregnancy and childbirth, being overweight, smoking, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol and certain neurological conditions. Pelvic health physiotherapists and GPs often work together to manage this condition using pelvic floor exercises, vaginal ring pessaries and sometimes medication.

5. Perimenopause and menopause

Menopause is the last day of the last period, and the average age is 51, while the normal range is 45-55. Perimenopause is the stage of a woman’s life when oestrogen levels start to fluctuate and periods start to change. This can go on for years before periods stop. These hormonal fluctuations can cause hot flushes and night sweats, poor sleep, anxiety, irritability, brain fog, vaginal dryness and reduced libido and many more possible symptoms. Declining oestrogen levels are also associated with increased rates of heart disease and osteoporosis.

It is important for women to seek help from their GP or a women’s health specialist if their symptoms are affecting their daily life. Lifestyle adjustments, non-hormonal medications and HRT can make a huge difference, and help women feel like themselves again.

•Dr Sarah Cahill

Tests all men should have

Lorcan Brennan is training and resource development manager with the Men’s Development Network based in Waterford. Much of his work focuses on engaging men and service providers in exploring positive approaches that support health and wellbeing with a focus on making small, sustainable changes in order to live flourishing lives.

Lorcan says: “On average men die younger than women. Males have higher death rates than females for virtually all the leading causes of death*, heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease and accidents.

“Poor lifestyles are responsible for many chronic diseases, with mental health difficulties often pushed to the side, to be dealt with later. Late presentation to the doctor also leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable.”

Lorcan Brennan from the Men’s Development Network

Lorcan’s tips for staying well

1. It’s OK not to be OK

For many of us men acknowledging this can be a real challenge, we feel we are failing the invincibility test. No-one is invincible. Acknowledging our difficulties kindly is a wise thing to do.

2. Seek support

Look at seeking support as a sign of strength and wisdom rather than as a weakness. If you are not feeling well or concerned, take that step to get help.

3. Access the correct service

In times of illness or medical uncertainty accessing the correct services is vital. In an age of so much misinformation, getting to the appropriate services for health and wellbeing is important. Your GP is your gatekeeper to additional services.

4. Check your bits and bobs

Subjects like prostate or testicular cancer may cause embarrassment for men and prevent them from coming forward for examination but there is some great news. By simply adopting a healthier lifestyle – good diet, staying active, not smoking, for example, we can help to reduce the risk of getting a range of cancers.

Remember also that cancer treatments have improved dramatically and when spotted early, there’s a good chance that you will be cured or that the treatment will control the cancer for a long time. For example, nine out of every 10 men survive prostate and testicular cancers when they are diagnosed early. Know what’s normal for your own body and see your GP if you notice changes.

5. Stay connected

Good friendships and involvement in family and community activities and projects are very important in supporting our health. A great sense of wellbeing and connection can come from contributing our own gifts and skills in this way.

Men’s Health Week

•International Men’s Health Week runs from Monday to Sunday 10-16 April 2024.

Visit for to see the Action Man Manual, a one-stop information booklet about men’s health and check out for a range of information on men’s health.

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