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Wed, 31st August 2016

Today it is strictly for the ladies. They have heaps of issues which guys don't know much about. Female health is a major challenge. Many take a keen interest, but many ignore it all and hope nothing will go wrong. Regular monthly manual breast checking on the third or fourth day of menstruation is wise. Breasts are then at their softest. Any slight irregularity or lump needs an immediate check with your doctor. For women 50 and over (some states say 40), annual mammogram is advisable. It is available free in many government centres. This may pick up breast cancer when still the size of a grain of rice, enabling immediate intervention. Cancer is becoming more common in young women in their forties. A cervical smear test from age 18 or start of sexual activity is essential. This not only picks up cancer 12 years before symptoms occur, but also other infections that may be present.


Two yearly is advised if the first test is OK. Cervical cancer can occur in women in their 20s, although usually in older women. Vaccination for younger women with the HPV wart virus vaccine greatly reduces risks. It is now readily available. Bleeding irregularities must be checked. Heavy monthly loss may not be compensated for before the next period which can lead to anemia. That means fatigue, lack of energy, and generally off colour. This is readily controlled with the regular use of the pill. However, there may be a cervical or endometrial polyp causing it. This is often picked up by pelvic ultrasound, when appropriate intervention is advised. Low pelvic pain needs checking. Discharges also must be identified, for all it can be correctly diagnosed and successfully treated. External itch, irritations or unpleasant odours also need checking and fixed. Do not delay in seeking your GPs advice.



Is it possible to get rid of an itchy back by self-will and determination?


The back seems a favoured spot for irritation and the desire to scratch. Try and put it out of your mind. Get involved in a mentally absorbing occupation, such as reading, working on your computer, doing crosswords, or writing a letter or ringing a friend. This can certainly work, but there may be an underlying cause. Allergy to clothing, soap powders, food or "allergens" in the air can trigger itch. Do not rub. It is caused by histamine produced by your own white blood cells called "mast cells". Apply a cold face flannel for 2 minutes and repeat a few times. This shrinks blood vessels. Drink lots of water to eliminate the histamine. There are many anti-itch creams. The non-sedating anti-histamine tablets help. So does paracetamol, as itch and pain travel on the same nerve fibres.

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As tobacco is such an addictive and lethal drug why is it not banned entirely. Even high powered doctor medication goes on a special restricted list.


It is all about money. Government revenue is enormous. The higher the price, the more that goes into public coffers. Even better, a smoker will die many years prematurely, say about the time he/she is about to retire and go on a government pension. If they are dead, no pension is payable. Tobacco is a legal substance. If banned, like US prohibition, a black market would emerge within seconds. In reality, smoking has reduced from about 45% in men to around 20%, but in women from about 26% to around 23% , depending on what set of statistics you care to believe.

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Is a guy born with a certain number of orgasms available for his lifetime?


In a way yes. Sperms form in the testes, travel up the vas to be deposited in little tanks called seminal vesicles. To this is added fluid manufactured by the prostate. It stays there until sexual stimulation produces a very pleasurable ejaculation, and the tanks empty and sexual desire drops until they refill. The fuller they become the greater the desire. So, the more often a climax occurs, there is less fluid, and less satisfaction. Greatest activity occurs in the fertile years say 18 to 50 when it all tapers off, but everyone is different. Any prostate surgery in men kills off the lot, despite what you may be told.

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A friend says she takes cod liver oil for her arthritis.


A tablespoonful of cod liver oil a day has been used for centuries, and many greatly benefit. Liquid is better than capsules, and there are some lemon flavoured brands with minimum after-taste. As children, mum made us take the gluggy white emulsion, with a picture of a man with a huge fish on his back. Remember? Really, that fish was a halibut not a cod! It is also very rich in vitamin A, the "protective vitamin".

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Several of us use the same bathroom where our toothbrushes sit. I have just realised mine is the same kind as another, and who know who has been using which one. Is there any risk involved?


Only serious risk is if one brush is carrying blood borne viruses. The only sinister ones are HIV and Hepatitis B. A toothbrush will often carry minute blood particles. However, if you are both certain this is unlikely, don't worry too much. It is then mainly aesthetics. Like wearing somebody else's false teeth! Mentally unpalatable. The same applies to shaving gear.

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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.



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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.

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