We talk to Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Yvonne Chow about her fascination for hormones, passion for public health, and love for her baby daughter.
An endocrinologist is a doctor who is trained to diagnose and manage diseases that affect the glands and hormones within the body. Our aim is to help the patient to restore hormone balance.
I find hormones fascinating. Hormones are how the body communicates. The endocrine system’s glands and organs secrete hormones, which are the chemical messengers that help various parts of the body to function. I love the fact that we can measure the quantity of hormones in the body as this can really help us treat the hormone imbalance of various conditions in a very targeted way.
Fluctuations in weight and irregular periods may point to a hormone imbalance. Other signs may include persistent problems with acne as an adult, excessive hair growth on the face, jawline, upper back, chest, as well as unexplained irritability, and mood fluctuations.
The most common conditions I see are diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, menopause, adrenal disorders, and neuroendocrine conditions.
Most hormone problems are very manageable. For example, if your thyroid does not produce enough hormone, we can supplement with thyroid hormone.
Being able to reach people in a language other than English means that I can immediately improve the rapport with Cantonese-speaking patients. My background also helps me to relate to women from migrant backgrounds generally.
At a broad level, I see the value in having good public health policy and systems in place. For example, I can see around 20 patients per day and help the health of those 20 people. A good public health policy can change the health of thousands or millions of people. We need good policy for good health.
I also learnt a lot about different healthcare systems, which has helped me to appreciate the Australian healthcare system.
In a very busy, modern lifestyle, women often do not prioritise their own physical and emotional wellbeing. My advice for women is to ensure they make time to eat well, do regular physical activity and of course, spend time doing things they enjoy. Maintaining a healthy body weight is particularly important for hormonal conditions such as type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.
If I’m not at work, I’m with my nine-month-old daughter, Emily. Seeing the world through her eyes is amazing.
This article was originally published in Jean Hailes Magazine 2019 Volume 1.
Read more about hormones in this article, Hormones: a balancing act?