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Top 5 Women’s Health Concerns in Australia

Please be aware the following blog post contains topics discussing mental health, suicide prevention and domestic violence. All our blog posts are for educational purposes only. The information provided in this blog post is general in nature, if you or anyone you know is struggling, please seek assistance from a GP, or a service like Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Women’s Health Week – celebrated from Monday 4 September until Friday 8 September – is a week filled with sharing information and generating awareness on all things related to women’s health. This year’s theme ‘Grow your knowledge’ is about supporting women to make informed decisions about their health. In this blog post we share the top five health concerns Australian women should be worried about. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the main health concerns for Australian women is cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases (AIHW, 2022).


Cancer is one of the most top concerns for Women’s Health

In Australia, one in two women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85 (Cancer Council Australia, 2021). Thankfully, many cancers can be treated successfully and about 70% of women in Australia with cancer, will be alive five years or longer after their diagnosis. Early prevention and detection are incredibly important to increase your chances of successful treatment. The most common cancers that are affecting women in Australia are:

  • Skin cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bowel cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Cancer of the uterus
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

With new ways of detecting and preventing cancer, it is ever more important to make regular visits to your GP for check-ups and screenings. Most cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can harm healthy cells as well as cancerous ones and usually aren’t a one-size-fits-all treatment for cancer patients. In May 2023, the ACRF reported that precision medicine is a new form of treatment which matches the most effective treatment to a patient’s cancer profile. Furthermore, precision medicine can help predict and avoid adverse reactions to certain medications (Australian Cancer Research Foundation, 2023).


Musculoskeletal Disorders in Australian Women

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries or pain in joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons, and the parts of your body that support the limbs, neck and back. These types of disorders often cause joint or muscle pain and inflammation which can seriously impact not only quality of life but ability to walk or do everyday activities. Statistics have shown that women are at a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders compared to men. The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (2017) found that women were 1.2 times more likely to have chronic musculoskeletal disorders and more than four times more likely to have osteoporosis. Additionally Australian women were 1.5 times more likely to have arthritis compared to Australian men.

Fortunately, there are a few things which may help prevent these types of disorders:

  • Warming up and stretching before starting any physically training or prolonged activities.
  • Making sure you take frequent breaks to stretch stiff muscles.
  • Respect pain. Change positions or stop whenever activities give you pain.
  • Recognise the early signs of any inflammation in the joints, nerves or muscles and treat them early.


Mental health in Australian women

In Australia, 1 in 6 women will experience depression in their lifetime and 1 in 3 will experience anxiety. Mental health and substance abuse can disproportionately impact Australian women at various ages (Australian Bureau of Statistic, 2018). The biggest concern amongst Australian women causing mental health issue is family, domestic and sexual abuse which are more likely to be perpetrated against women, with 1 in 3 women experiencing violence in their lifetime (ABS, 2017). This leads to significant impacts on their safety, mental health, and wellbeing. Mental health problems relating to fertility, childbearing or parenting are also a common burden among Australian women with 1 in 4 mothers experiencing post-natal depression (AIWH, 2010). Juggling work and life after children remains a major challenge for women in the workforce with a lack of flexible work arrangements being the main source of family stress. This adds to relationship struggles and results in women being less happy in their long-term relationships compared to men, creating a key factor in impacting mental health (HILDA,2015). Lastly, suicide remains a concern for Australian women across the lifespan.

The best way to support women in Australia of all ages is to break the stigma around mental health and encourage to talk more openly about women’s mental health in the workplace, at home, at school and between trusted friends and family. Looking out for signs and checking in with loved ones is highly encouraged. Giving women an active voice and opportunities in the community for equity and inclusion can also break barriers in the workplace, at home and at school which are often the leading cause of mental health disorders.

There are many ways to seek help if you are struggling or a loved one is. Here is a list of resources that women in Australia can access to seek support:

  • Lifeline – call 13 11 14 if you are in a personal crisis or feel suicidal
  • For advice on self-esteem head to ReachOut or Headspace
  • Support on relationship issues with partners, friends or family members head to Beyond Blue, Breakup Shakeup or E-Couch which are all helpful online resources
  • For work or study stress, head to Heads Up and Headspace
  • The Black Dog Institute offers a range of mental health programs for the workplace and for individuals


Cardiovascular Diseases among Australian women

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in women in Australia. Cardiovascular diseases include diseases of the heart, veins and arteries. For women, the risk of developing these diseases increases significantly after menopause. In Australia, women are 3 times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer. Women in Australia can help prevent heart disease by participating in a healthy lifestyle, not smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes, moving for at least 30-60 mins a day, consuming a heart-healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, having a good bed night routine and making sure that they are making regular visits to their GP for health screening tests. If cardiovascular diseases run in the family or you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s even more important to take these healthy steps to reduce your elevated risks of heart disease.


Neurological Diseases in Australian women

Neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, pose unique challenges to women’s health. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is particularly concerning, with approximately 70% of all Australians living with dementia being women, according to Dementia Australia. The reasons for this gender disparity are still under investigation, but it highlights the need for increased research and support for women affected by these conditions.

Encouragingly, various organizations in Australia, such as the Brain Foundation and MS Australia, offer resources, support networks, and research funding to better understand and manage neurological conditions in women.


For Women’s Health Week what steps will you take to upscale your health and wellbeing? We’d love to know so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram to share 😊