As a group of all female practioners we are all dedicated to improving the health and well being of woman. Each of our female doctors has particular skills and special interests in this area which are outlined below.
This became a particular passion for Dr Cassie Kenna who has decided to focus exclusively on managing woman’s physical and mental well being after she identified a need for a dedicated service whilst working at Jean Hailes Clinic for Women and Family Planning Victoria.
The following is an outline of our services and some of the common issues affecting woman:
Pregnancy planning and fertility advice
Our doctors can offer advice on the necessary tests before pregnancy aswell as vaccinations and medications that you may require. Before a pregnancy is a great time to get advice on ways to optimise your health to improve pregnancy outcomes both for yourself and your baby. If you have been trying to get pregnant for a while and are worried that there may be an issue, we can offer support and advice on the next steps to take regarding tests and referring you to a trusted specialist.
We are here to help woman navigate the different options for pregnancy care and arrange for the necessary early pregnancy investigations.
Some women opt to do shared care which involves sharing care between the GP and a public hospital. Dr Cassie Kenna and Dr Kate Naylor are both qualified to offer the shared care model to woman through public hospitals in Melbourne. Many women enjoy the opportunity and convenience in having most of their care with a local GP who can also assist them even after their baby is born.
If you have an unplanned pregnancy, we can also assist you in caring and sensitive manner to navigate the options available to you.
We are extremely fortunate to have Dr Kate Naylor, a qualified lactation consultant or IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) at Zest. Dr Kate Naylor has a special interest in breast feeding and has extensive experience in helping woman to resolve their breast feeding issues.
Some of the common issues that she helps to manage include poor attachment, over/under supply, breast/nipple pain, poor weight gain, breast refusal, tongue tie, weaning and expressing breast milk.
Anticipate an hour for a first appointment.
We provide specific vaccinations required by women at different stages of their life.
• human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination which may be given from adolescence onwards to prevent HPV infection
• rubella or varicella vaccination which may be required prior to pregnancy
• whooping cough and influenza vaccination given during pregnancy or at other appropriate times
• Influenza, shingles and pneumonia vaccines
• travel vaccines – you can check with your doctor for specific advice
Cervical Screen Tests (previously called Pap Smears)
The current guidelines for cervical screening in Australia have changed. It is now recommended that women in Australia start the cervical screen test program at age 25 and continue until age 70. If normal, the cervical screen test is performed every 5 years.
This test helps to prevent cervical cancer by detecting the human papillomavirus (HPV) aswell as detecting abnormal cells caused by the HPV virus. HPV is a common infection that can cause cervical cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. We now have a vaccination program in Australia for HPV but even if a woman is vaccinated, she still needs to have the cervical screen test.
If you have any unusual symptoms, such as bleeding in between periods or after intercourse, or bleeding after menopause has occurred, discharge or pain, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Breast Health and Breast cancer screening
It is important for all women to be aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts at different times of the month and it is recommended that women start to do their own breast checks from their 20s.
Being familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts can help you to detect any changes early. Changes to be aware of include lumps, pain, changes in the appearance of the skin or nipple. Please book an appointment if you notice any of these changes.
BreastScreen Australia is the national screening program that invites women between the ages of 50 and 74 years for a free screening mammogram every two years.
However it is important to note that each woman is different and if there are any factors that increase your risk of breast cancer such as a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, then earlier screening or referral to a breast specialist may be advised.
• Heavy, painful periods
• Irregular periods
• Abnormal bleeding
• Pelvic pain
• Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)/ Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
• PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome)
• Vulval and vaginal disorders such as recurrent thrush, urinary tract infections, pelvic or vaginal pain
• Sexual health issues including low libido, poor arousal, pain
All of our female doctors can assist you with any gynaecological concerns that you may have.
The type of contraception that a woman chooses should suit her individual needs and ideally offer other benefits whilst minimising the risk of side effects. It is likely that different choices will suit woman at different stages throughout their life.
The Oral Contraceptive Pill
The oral contraceptive pill has been around since the 1970’s. It can help to reduce pain and bleeding during menstruation and can be beneficial in managing pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS, as well as symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (such as acne and excessive body hair) and endometriosis.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
IUDs are becoming increasingly popluar and are now a first line option for treating heavy menstrual bleeding. There are two main types of IUDs in Australia. One that contains copper and another containing the hormone progesterone. This year a new IUD has been released that contains progesterone but at a lower dose and in a smaller device making insertion more tolerable.
An IUD is also a good option for woman who are unable to take oestrogen.
This is a good option for younger woman who sometimes find that remembering to take a pill every day can be difficult or for woman who are unable to take oestrogen.
Our doctors have completed extra training and are able to insert and remove contraceptive rods as well as intra-uterine devices.
We have a dedicated and comfortable room in order to provide this service to women in the local area.
We can provide advice on screening for sexually transmitted infections as well as assist women if they are concerned about any symptoms. We provide a confidential service if you have any other sexual health issues such as painful or difficult sex or changes in libido that you would like to discuss with one of our female GPs.
Perimenopause and Menopause Management
The average age of menopause in Australia is 50-52 years. Some women may experience symptoms of perimenopause for several years in the lead up to the final menstrual period as well as once the periods have ceased.
Common symptoms include mood changes, irritability, hot flushes, night sweats, muscle aches/joint pains; reduced concentration, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, crawling sensations on the skin and reduced libido.
Whilst many women will find these symptoms mild, for some women they will cause significant distress and impact their ability to work and function. We can offer tailored advice on appropriate management during this time in a woman’s life. We take the time to explore the different treatment options that are available and can provide information on the benefits and risks of hormonal treatment.
Menopause is also an important time to think about a woman’s general health and well being. Your doctor may talk to you about your bone health and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Tips For Bone Health
• Get regular exercise (lifting weights, walking, running, riding, dancing or fitness classes)
• Eat plenty of calcium rich foods (this includes dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, nuts, fish and some vegetables)
• Make sure you have enough vitamin D (this is achieved by having some sun exposure or taking a supplement)
• Know your family history – do any family members have osteoporosis?
• Consider having a bone density test if you have a family history of osteoporosis, an overactive thyroid or parathyroid, coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis or chronic kidney or liver disease or prolonged corticosteroid use or if you have had a bone fracture
Our clinic is located at 228 High Street, Ashburton.
We are open Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm & Saturday 9am – 12pm .