Ask the doc­tor

Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps an­swers your ques­tions on poly­cys­tic ovaries, breast can­cer test­ing, dan­druff and other con­cerns.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - MEDICAL Q&A -

Q My 29-year-old daugh­ter has re­cently been told she has poly­cys­tic ovaries, but not PCOS. How com­mon are poly­cys­tic ovaries and will it af­fect her chances of con­ceiv­ing a child? M.M.

It is com­mon to have poly­cys­tic ovaries with­out hav­ing PCOS (poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome), which can in­volve in­sulin re­sis­tance and weight gain, ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods, acne, ex­cess hair, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. Un­like PCOS, poly­cys­tic ovaries with­out the as­so­ci­ated syn­drome have no im­pact on fer­til­ity.

Q My mother was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer last year, at the age of 59. My grand­mother also had it. How do I go about ge­netic test­ing to en­sure I don’t have the gene? I would pre­fer to get pre­ven­ta­tive surgery if I carry it. P.E.

You are wise to check your risk. You and your mother can be re­ferred for ge­netic coun­selling by your GP. If she car­ries the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mu­ta­tion, then you would be tested. Your risk would then be as­sessed and you will be given op­tions for preven­tion.

Q I have lost 5kg re­cently, but re­ally strug­gle with sugar crav­ings at night be­fore bed. I am try­ing to lose more weight, but my 9pm snacks are let­ting me down. Do you have any ad­vice? K.H.

Evening sugar crav­ings are usu­ally due to be­ing ei­ther still hun­gry or just a bad old habit. If you’re gen­uinely hun­gry, it may mean your kilo­joules and car­bo­hy­drates are too light through the day, which is com­mon with di­et­ing. Have a proper break­fast with qual­ity car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein, a bal­anced lunch and a sub­stan­tial af­ter­noon tea. If you think it’s just an old habit, then try hav­ing a cup of tea, have a bath, or read a book to dis­tract your­self. It will get eas­ier!

Q I am 56 and healthy. I have great hair, but re­cently I have de­vel­oped quite se­vere dan­druff. What are the causes and do you have any ad­vice on how to stop it? F.G.

Have you changed sham­poos? You may be sen­si­tive to it. Skin con­di­tions such as eczema, se­b­or­rhoeic der­mati­tis, pso­ri­a­sis or fun­gal in­fec­tions can all cause dan­druff. Try us­ing a sham­poo for sen­si­tive scalps. If it per­sists, ask your doc­tor to check for a skin prob­lem and pre­scribe a treat­ment.

Q I am four months preg­nant and have been read­ing a lot about the risk of whoop­ing cough, par­tic­u­larly with ba­bies. When should I get my booster and should ev­ery­one who comes near my baby once it’s born have the vac­cine, too? L.O.

We rec­om­mend vaccination in the third trimester of preg­nancy, as an­ti­bod­ies travel from the mother to the foe­tus and pro­tect the baby in the first weeks of life. Any­one who will be spend­ing time with your baby should have per­tus­sis (whoop­ing cough) vac­cine.

Q I’m 45 and was di­ag­nosed with sci­at­ica last year. What types of treat­ments are avail­able? G.G.

Be­cause your pain has per­sisted, your GP is likely to ar­range an MRI scan to find out the cause. Treat­ment op­tions in­clude phys­i­cal ther­a­pies and cor­ti­sone in­jec­tions to re­duce swelling. Sci­at­ica caused by a pro­lapsed disc may need surgery to re­move the disc frag­ment caus­ing pres­sure on the nerve.

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