National Women's Health Policy

Reproductive health

Page last updated: 07 February 2011

As discussed in the chronic disease section, there is a range of reproductive cancers which particularly affect women including breast cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer.

Up to 10 per cent of women, and 30 per cent of obese women, suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).251 PCOS is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease 252 and mental health problems.253

Endometriosis—a condition when uterine tissue grows on the fallopian tubes, the ovaries or the tissue lining the pelvis—affects an estimated one in 10 females of reproductive age and up to 30 per cent of women with infertility. It has no known cure and on average takes 7 to 12 years to diagnose.254

Menopause is a significant life stage for all women. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health found the median age of menopause to be 52 years. Natural menopausal transition was associated with hot flushes, high sweats and, to a lesser extent, stiff or painful joints, difficulty sleeping, and poor/fair self-rated health, after controlling for confounders.255 While hormone replacement treatment remains the most frequent treatment for menopausal symptoms, the evidence remains far from clear about the effects associated with it.256 More information is needed about the risks and benefits to women at different ages and with different symptoms and family histories.