Page 1 2012 Vol 2
Dear friend of Jean Hailes
How do we know if something is good or bad for us? As women we have to weigh up the risks and benefits of so much that we do on a daily basis.
Should we take a particular medication, try that new diet, take HRT; should we keep using contraception until we are past menopause or wait until the time is right to have a baby? How do we make these decisions? Often we learn from the media or from friends and family. The trouble is we sometimes get confusing information from those with the loudest voices and then doubt our ability to make the right decision.
One decision I recently made involving risks and benefits was whether to keep on taking HRT. I am 57 and after five years on HRT tried to stop taking it. The sleepless nights and hot flushes quickly returned so I decided with my doctor that the benefits outweighed the risks for me.
I am lucky, though. I have at my fingertips information and experts who can talk to me about HRT in a way that I can understand. Not all women are so fortunate. I have seen first hand the distress and confusion the debate over HRT has caused for women over the past 10 years. That’s why it is important to me that Jean Hailes explains to women, in plain English and backed by the latest evidence, the benefits and risks of taking HRT. Contraception in midlife can be another tricky area. Do we need to use contraception if our periods are irregular and we are having hot flushes?
In this issue you will find information on how important it is to continue using contraception and protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) right up until you reach menopause. It’s never easy discussing STIs and can be embarrassing to discuss using condoms but it comes back to looking after ourselves and protecting our health.
Decisions on whether to wait and have a baby are less clear cut and depend on many things. Sometimes we don’t have the choice due to circumstances – health and timing matter. As women we need to be active in the decisions we make about our health. We therefore need clear, simple, reliable information from experts in their field. I am very proud that we can pass on to you in this issue information on HRT, fertility issues and contraception.
On a sad note, I would like to recognise the passing of Professor David Healy, a founding Board member of Jean Hailes. He provided expertise, knowledge and passion for women’s health that will be sadly missed in Australia and overseas.
P.S. I seemed to have avoided the topic of ‘relaxation’, but there’s a reason; I’m not good at it – I need professional help! If anyone has any tips for me on how to do it better, I’d love to hear from you.
Janet Michelmore, AO
Janet can be contacted on 1800 JEAN HAILES (532 642)
Content Updated September 2012