Davenport House Surgery, Harpenden
Bowers Way
Harpenden
Hertfordshire
AL5 4HX

Women's Health

The surgery offers a Well-Woman clinic run by our experienced practice nurse team.

Appointments can be booked through reception or via the automated telephone booking system. Clinic times are:

  • Tuesday 9.15am – 5.30pm 
  • Wednesday 2.00pm - 5.30pm

The nurses are happy to discuss osteoporosis and coronary risk factors, cervical smears, family planning, well-woman and breast checks. 

Female patients are routinely invited for a cervical smear according to the latest guidance. Currently 25-49 year olds are invited every three years, 50 to 64 year olds are invited every five years and those over the age of 65 years if they have not been screened since the age of 60 years or have had a recent abnormal result. Recall maybe more frequent if there either risk factors or previous problems that indicate more frequent examinations. Invitations are sent from the health authority and patients are asked to contact the surgery to book a convenient appointment. The result of your smear test will be sent directly to you from the Heath Authority. The surgery is also informed so that your records are kept up to date.

The nurses are also able to give women relevant advice about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and contraception where this is required. Repeat prescriptions of HRT and contraceptive pills can also be obtained from the well-woman nurse every six months with the prior agreement of your doctor.

All patients are encouraged to have a blood pressure check at approximately three to five year intervals, especially if there is a family history of raised BP.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a common bone condition caused by a progressive loss of calcium and internal structure of bones affecting up to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 8 men during their lifetime. This leading to risk of fracture especially of the spine, hip and wrist. Bone is progressively built up and strengthened to about the age of 30 when it stays roughly constant until 40 - 50 years of age. There is then a natural loss of both calcium and bone strength which occurs slowly and gently in men (unless there are other causes - see below) but often rapidly in women when their oestrogen levels drop suddenly as a result of the menopause.

The risk of osteoporosis can be due to a number causes:

  • Lack of dietary calcium, exercise, heavy smoking or drinking alcohol during our lifetime may lead to poor development of bone.
  • Medical illnesses such as an' overactive thyroid', Liver disease, Coeliac disease or anorexia nervosa may cause poor growth of bone. 
  • Having a low body weight or being underweight can also predispose to osteoporosis. 
  • Certain medicines that are important to control diseases such as anticonvulsant for Epilepsy, Heparin for Blood clots or steroids for a number of conditions may lead to loss of bone. 
  • Some people inherit genes that prevent them from either building up bone or lead to excessive loss in later years. A family history of osteoporosis is therefore important. 
  • A menopause or a hysterectomy before the age of 45 may cause early accelerated loss of bone and risk of osteoporosis.
  • Men with testicular failure may similarly be at risk.

Patients might be alerted to having an increased risk to suffering from osteoporosis - by either belonging to one of the above 'risk groups' or from developing loss of height or becoming 'round shouldered' that doesn't correct after 'straightening up'. Suffering fractures after minimal trauma can also be a sign. Osteoporosis should not be confused with Osteoarthritis which in some people causes pain, stiffness and swollen joints. Osteoporosis does not cause painful joints or pain - unless there is a fracture or change in the shape of the bones (especially the spine) from buckling or collapse from weakness. X-rays can't diagnose osteoporosis either - though they may raise suspicion of it being present. Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a special bone scan called a Bone densiometry scan.

Eating a healthy diet in Calcium or taking supplements, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and heavy alcohol consumption go some way to preventing osteoporosis. Women should consider HRT if they have a menopause or hysterectomy before the age of 45 or if there is a family history of osteoporosis.

Ask your doctor for more information about risk, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.