Doc Wright, Australia's #1 Media Medic. Medical advice for all the family.

Hear Dr Wright daily on Sydney's No 1 Radio Station


Download a list of other radio stations around Australia here.

newer   older
  article topic 

Wed, 27th May 2015

The body continually manufactures hormones. Thank goodness for this as they give us gender characteristics, body shape, voice tone and timbre, hair distribution and millions of other major issues we would be lost without. Can we have too much or too little of a good thing? The answer of course is yes, yes, yes. Hormonal irregularities in women produces enormous variations in bleeding patterns and inner feelings, but human interference plays a part also.

Million Pills

A million women take the pill each day. This means extra oestrogen enters the system. It is well established breast oestrogen receptors are sensitive to excess amounts of oestrogen. The longer and higher the duration, the greater the risks. Breast cancer is on the rise, for reasons not clearly understood. However, studies on thousands of women over many years indicates there is no apparent relationship. Indeed, the pill may reduce risks of uterine cancer. It is probably due to carcinogens in the air, pollution from man made chemicals which somehow access the system. We do not know. Of course, being male, it is easy to say don't take any form of extra hormone - but that does not happen. Heavy bleeding is often hormone related.

Bleeding Suppressed

This can often be suppressed by taking the pill, which is really a combination of oestrogen and progesterone, the two female hormones. It can be a nice easy solution. The pill dampens down ovulation, so it is easy to regulate "periods" which is simply withdrawal bleeding when stopped and usually lasts only a few hours. As ovulation does not take place, pregnancy cannot occur. Chances of conception during the 7 day hormone free period is unlikely although has occurred.


Can the pill reduce ovarian cysts? Maybe, but it is not high on the list. Cysts may form in the area when ovum or egg was present before being released, perhaps in other spots also. Generally they are not serious, cause few symptoms unless they burst causing temporary pain, and do not lead to cancers. It is only when they are multiple and very large that concerns arise, but this is not very common . They are usually detected by ultrasound.

The pill has sometimes been used to enhance breast size. However, this is a bit like pregnancy, and if the hormones are suddenly stopped, breast tissue reverts to original size, or may even sag. It is not on the "A" list for this purpose. Many find the hormones tend to increase weight, may lead to headaches (often migraine), cause nausea in some (mainly due to progesterone), and some find it leads to lack of libido. But usually it is peace and harmony.



My teenage daughter sustained a bad fall and gashed her face. We are terribly worried it will leave a permanent scar.


Blood supply to the face is enormous and the wound will soon heal, often in a few days. Nevertheless I am sure it has already been attended to. However, the advice and intervention of a plastic surgeon is highly advised, for their ability at minimising adverse outcomes and producing a pleasing appearance is high. Hopefully this will already have taken place. Nevertheless, it may occur at any time in the future if the present picture turns out poorly.

^back to top


I have been researching my family tree, and on the death certificate of a great grandparent who died in the early 20th century is simply the world "Phthisis". I have no idea what this means.


Phthisis was the commonly used word for tuberculosis. It was also known as "consumption" and often treated in special institutions called a sanatorium. This highly infectious disease was rampant in the times up until the mid 20th century when a special antibiotic was discovered to kill the tubercle bacillus, the germ that causes TB. Dreadful sanitation, crowded housing, living in very close contact often with infected persons and poor general nutrition was the cause. As soon as these were improved, the death rate dropped dramatically, with another fall mid century with the new medication. Until then lots of creamy milk, fresh air, living in an isolated unit was the usual barbaric treatment. Even today it takes many months to cure. A crass joke of the times about anyone with a chronic cough was "Why is he coffin?" Answer "Consumption be the matter."

^back to top


Is breast cancer becoming more common, as we seem to hear more and more about it.


Breast cancer has been with us since antiquity. Today we hear more about it due to the media frenzy which accompanies it. This is fine, and draws attention to the need for regular screening in women and early intervention, when cure is highly likely. Also, new surgical techniques and management plans have excelled. Public awareness and government funding is also high. However, the rate is still one in 12, and some claim one in 5 specially if a relative is affected. Ellen Ternan, long-time clandestine girlfriend of Charles Dickens, suffered and died from breast cancer in 1907. The disease has also been surmised in works of the great artistic masters of yesteryear.

^back to top


Is "electro-convulsive therapy" still carried out today, or does it belong to a bygone era?


Electro-convulsive therapy, commonly called ECT, is still widely used today in Australia and the western world, although some pressure groups are against it. It is usually a last resort treatment. Today, there is a wide range of medications for those suffering from "bi-polar" disorder. This means period of elation followed by times of very deep depression. It seems to be specially effective with depression. It is given under general anaesthesia and the patient is unconscious. It is not a very pretty sight, but many return to a fairly normal life. Repeat intervention may be required. Depression is a terrible condition, and a patient is prepared to go to any degree to gain relief. In older persons, the suicide rate is still common and it may certainly prevent this awful outcome.

^back to top


When can a new mothers unborn baby start to hear?


By twelve weeks after conception all organs including sensory gear have developed. It is amazing how these intricate mechanisms occur. Many parents find baby seems to be soothed by soft music or perhaps the musical introduction to TV or radio shows. That is why after birth, they will often settle down when they hear familiar sounds, including the soothing words of mum. Talk calm reassuring words throughout pregnancy. It may have an amazing positive effect later. Also, non-smoking and no alcohol is now a standard advice during pregnancy, and the months that follow. It helps produce a more healthy normal brain and all other body parts.

^back to top

This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



Just Ask Dr James Wright.

Coughs, colds, aches and pains, feeling off colour, painful joints, sweaty and miserable? Whatever your symptom, or illness, Dr James Wright may help you, and answer your questions.

Simply log onto type in your symptom in the space on the left hand column, click topic and up it comes. Simple easy-to-follow information Dr Wright has written over the past several years. Then click contact us if you have a special message.


You can subscribe (no cost) to Dr James Wright's Monthly Health Bulletin by emailing your name and email address to The bulletin contains up-to-date health tips and news for wellbeing. A copy of the current Bulletin may be viewed online here.

Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village ( in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (, a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

Waiting to hear from you Dr James Wright.