On this page, you will find information and resources relating to issues that, in the main, affect women.
Visit our staying safe: domestic violence and abuse self-help resource page for useful contacts and resources.
Pregnancy and birth
Information leaflets providing women and their partners with the facts they need to make informed decisions, in conjunction with their healthcare provider, about use of a medicine(s) in pregnancy.
Early Pregnancy Information Centre
Has rounded up the most common early pregnancy issues and worries so that you can find what you need.
National Childbirth Trust (NCT)
Information and support in pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood.
Family planning and sexual health
Providing help to women with an unplanned pregnancy, or a pregnancy they choose not to continue with.
Family Planning Association
Provides straightforward information, advice and support to all people across the UK on all aspects of sexual health, sex and relationships.
Marie Stopes International UK
The UK’s leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
Honest advice about contraception, pregnancy, STIs and pleasure.
Women’s mental health charity that provides independent advocacy, emotional support and through the mental health and criminal justice systems.
A charity committed to providing much-needed support and information for anyone affected by the endometriosis.
Fertility Network UK
The UK’s leading fertility support network, offering information and support to anyone affected by fertility problems.
Gynaecology and the menopause
Fighting for menstrual rights and equality. Services include education about sexual & reproductive health, delivery of pads and menstrual supplies but also normalisation of this topic.
Bladder and Bowel Foundation
Provides information, help and support for adults aged 18 years and over, who have experienced either a bladder or bowel problem or both.
Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation
Giving support to people with all forms of cystitis, overactive bladder and continence issues together with their families and friends.
Support for women who have experienced premature menopause.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
The UK’s only cervical cancer charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer.
An independent website providing up-to-date, accurate information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options.
National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome
Providing support for all women and their families who are affected by PMS and related menstrual health problems.
Target Ovarian Cancer
Provides advice and support for women with ovarian cancer via their website, publications and a free-to-attend programme of events and courses.
Pelvic Pain Support Network
Supports patients with pelvic pain whether they have a diagnosed condition or not.
Womb Cancer Support UK
Offers online support, information and advice to women going through womb cancer via their website and their Facebook page.
Women’s Health Concern
Provides an independent service to advise, reassure and educate women of all ages about their health, wellbeing and lifestyle concerns.
The UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights at work, at home and in public life.
Rights of Women
Women’s charity providing women with the legal advice and information they need to understand and use the law and their legal rights. Telephone advice lines provide free and confidential legal advice to women.
Whilst women and men are both affected by problems, there are some issues which are specific to women. Each stage in a woman’s life can pose specific challenges to her mental health including hormonal changes, the reproductive cycle, pregnancy and fertility. Have a look at our dedicated resources to assist women to cope with the psychological challenges they face in the different stages of their life.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a long-term condition, affecting 1 in 10 women, where cells similar to the lining of the womb start to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
What are the main symptoms?
- pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
- period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
- pain during or after sex
- pain when peeing or pooing during your period
- feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
- difficulty getting pregnant
Keeping a record of your pain and symptoms can help you and your doctor when it comes to both diagnosis and management of symptoms. Endometriosis UK has a pain and symptoms diary which you can use to help you with this.
Video: What it's like living with Endometriosis
What are the treatment options?
While there is currently no cure for endometriosis, there are different treatments that can help ease the symptoms. The NHS website provides further information on these.
Endometriosis UK also offers valuable support and information to those affected by endometriosis on their webpage. You may wish to call their free confidential endometriosis helpline if you have any questions about treatment or would just like someone to talk to: 0808 808 2227.
Have written a guide for employer's, which provides an overview of the legal situation when it comes to managing endometriosis at work.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Have provided an information leaflet if you wish to know more about endometriosis. It may also be helpful if you are the partner or relative of someone with endometriosis.
What is menopause and perimenopause?
The Menopause is a natural part of aging that happens when a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs, leading to a decline in the reproductive hormones that they produce (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone). It refers to when a women has not had her period for 12 consecutive months.
It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age for women the UK being 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as pre-mature menopause.
The transition period leading up to the menopause is the perimenopause, and can last for a few months or several years. During this time, periods may become lighter/more irregular and other symptoms can start to emerge.
What are common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause?
- Hot flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest, which can make your skin red and sweaty
- Night sweats – hot flushes that occur at night
- Difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- A reduced sex drive (libido)
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
- Mood changes, such as low mood or anxiety
- Palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable
- Joint stiffness, aches and pains
- Reduced muscle mass
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
What are the treatment options?
Your GP can offer treatments (such as hormone replacement therapy) and suggest lifestyle changes if you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your quality of life. You can find out more about these on the NHS website.
Video: What every woman needs to know about menopause and perimenopause
Menopause is not just a gender or age issue, as it can impact on colleagues both directly or indirectly, and it should therefore be considered as an organisational issue. All managers need to know about it, and how they can support their staff. Managers should also be aware of the indirect effects of the menopause on people such as spouses, significant others, and close family members/friends of individuals going through the menopause. The transition can put additional pressures and changes on relationships, it is therefore important managers signpost to appropriate support channels.
Information on how menopause can affect women at work, and practical guidance for employers on how to improve workplace environments for them.
A guide for line managers and all staff.
This editable workbook is to help you work out what's right for you and plan your next steps.
This workbook provides knowledge and understanding around menopause and where to signpost support and help.
This resource provides information on understanding the menopause, and is aimed at NHS organisations and teams.
Download this menopause friendly workplace checklist - why not print and display this in areas such as the women's toilet?
Dr Louise Newson, her colleagues and expert guests, discuss a wide range of menopause-related topics to give listeners unbiased, evidence-based and holistic information and advice to help them, and their loved ones, manage the symptoms and challenges of the menopause and perimenopause.
Diane Danzebrink and Sophie C talk frankly and openly about all things menopause.
Support networks and resources for women
Dedicated to providing information and support to women diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, also known as Premature Menopause.
On this webpage you can watch other people share their stories of going through menopause.
The patient arm of the British Menopause Society (BMS). They provide a confidential, independent service to advise, reassure and educate women of all ages about their gynaecological and sexual health, wellbeing and lifestyle concerns.
One of the UK's fastest growing website for women over 40, sharing helpful information, top tips and wisdom: happiness, health, wealth, and menopause.
RCON have developed an information pack titled 'Menopause and mental health'
Physical health checks
As good practice, everyone needs to visit the doctor for regular health checks. Physical health checks are paramount if you are feeling unwell or notice something different about your body.
Screening and regular check-ups can detect diseases earlier when they can be easier to treat. Therefore, if appointments are during work time – try to prioritise attending these appointments.
At Keeping Well, we understand how physical health can impact your mental health. Therefore, we are here to support you by providing a safe and confidential space to talk about what is going on for you.
We can also help think with you about how you might want to access support and make onward referrals if needed.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with around 55,500 women and 370 men diagnosed each year. It occurs when abnormal cells in the breast uncontrollably grow and divide forming a tumour (Cancer Research UK, 2021). Currently, breast cancer risk in transgender people isn’t yet fully understood but there is ongoing research (Bupa, 2021).
Early detection of breast cancer provides a good chance of recovery, therefore understanding symptoms and checking your breasts is regularly is important.
Cancer Research provides breast symptoms to look out for:
- a new lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
- a change in size, shape or feel of your breast
- skin changes in the breast such as puckering, dimpling, a rash or redness of the skin
- fluid leaking from the nipple in a woman who isn’t pregnant or breastfeeding
- changes in the position of the nipple
Most breast lumps are not cancerous but it’s advised that you should see your GP if you notice any of these symptoms (NHS, 2019).
Be breast aware
Regularly checking your breasts helps you be familiar with what is normal for you, to be able to identify any changes early on. When checking your breast, take notice of the size, shape and consistency. Your breasts can change during your menstrual cycle. Therefore, get used to how your breast feels different during the month. Also, menopause can affect how your breast looks and feel. It’s important to know that there is no right way to check your breast and every woman’s breast is different.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme has produced a 5-point plan for being breast aware:
know what's normal for you
look at your breasts and feel them
know what changes to look for
report any changes to a GP without delay
attend a routine screening if you're aged 50 to 70
Watch this video animation provides a step–by–step guide for checking your breasts:
More about breast screening/mammograms
Breast screening is available for women between the ages of 50 and 70, it is also available for some trans or non-binary people. This screening provides early detection through an x-ray of your breast (Cancer Research, 2020). You may be invited for a breast screening if you are under 50 with a higher-than-the normal risk of developing breast cancer. This may be due to a genetic predisposition or family history. Speak to your GP if this is the case and they can support you through this (Bupa, 2022).
It is important to continue to check your breast even if you go for regular screening. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused some delays in breast screening in the UK. But breast cancer screening is still available.
Check out NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates to breast screening for the latest information.
Cancer research has loads information around cancer you can read and download.
Visit the NHS website for general NHS advice and signposting links.
Breast cancer UK
Visit Breast Cancer UK have simple guide for everyone and has top five tips to help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
For females in the UK, cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer, around 3,200 women get diagnosed a year. Cervical cancer occurs when an uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells happens in the lining of the cervix, which is the opening between the vagina and the womb (Cancer Research, 2020 & NHS, 2021).
The main cause of Cervical cancer is from a long-lasting infection from a certain type of human papillomavirus (HPV) (NHS, 2021). HPV is a common infection that the immune system usually clears without any problems.
This cancer is most common in women in their early 30s and it can develop in trans men if they haven’t had an operation to remove their womb and cervix (total hysterectomy) (Cancer Research, 2020).
You may not have any symptoms of cervical cancer, but if you do they may include:
- having heavier periods than you usually do
- bleeding in between your periods, during or after sex, or after the menopause
- painful sex
- a change to your discharge, for example, an unpleasant smell, change of colour or consistency
- pain in your lower back or between your hipbones (pelvis)
Conditions like fibroids or endometriosis may result in a regular occurrence of these symptoms. Also, these symptoms are very common and can be caused by various conditions. Therefore, having them does not mean that you definitely have cervical cancer. However, it’s important to speak to your GP if you notice any symptom changes or it does not feel normal to you (NHS, 2021).
Going for your cervical screening/smear test
The NHS invites women aged between 25-64 for cervical screening. Cervical screening also applies to trans men in this age range who have a cervix. In England, you are invited for screening every three years if you are between the ages of 25-49. After this, it will be every five years until the age of 64 (Cancer Research, 2020).
Cervical screening is a prevention method that tests for the HPV virus, as a high risk of HPV can cause cervical cells to become cancerous. You can contact your GP surgery online or by phone if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not received an invitation.
This NHS video explains what to expect during your cervical screening:
Visit the NHS website for more information on cervical cancer and what to expect during a cervical screening/smear test.
The Cancer research website has lots of useful signposting links you can access for free.
Jo Cervical Cancer Trust
The Jo Cervical Cancer Trust charity has a helpline that offers support with questions about cervical cancer, cervical screening results or if you are trying to come to terms with a recent diagnosis
Family planning and sexual health
It is important to plan for the future when thinking about having sex. It’s easy to get carried away in the moment but avoiding an unplanned pregnancy and protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is very important. Explore some of our resources below:
You may have heard people say that being on forms of hormonal contraception has impacted their mood, making them feel irritable, low, or anxious.
Some people find the opposite effect and experience improvements in their mood when on hormonal contraception. It is important to remember that everyone’s bodies are unique to them and people can have different responses.
Below is a list of different contraception and various findings of their effects on mood. If you are unsure which method is right for you or if you have any questions, please to speak to one of our team who can help signpost you.
There are two main types of contraceptive pills – the combined pill or the progestogen-only pill.
The combined pill is often referred to as just “the pill”. It contains artificial versions of female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are produced naturally in the ovaries. When taken correctly the pill is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is usually taken once a day for 21 days and then not taken for 7 days, during which you will bleed like a period. Then after the 7 days you can begin taking them again. The progestogen-only pill, sometimes known as “the mini pill”, is taken every day with no breaks. If taken correctly, it is also 99% effective.
The NHS website has more information about the contraceptive pill here.
The contraceptive implant is a small flexible plastic rod that's placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse. Once inserted, it can prevent pregnancy for 3 years. It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It can be taken out if you have side effects. The artificial hormone that is used in the implant is similar to that used in the mini pill. If you don’t experience any negative side effects when using the mini pill, then it is likely that you will have a similar experience with the implant.
The NHS website has more information about the contraceptive implant here.
The contraceptive injection releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. It lasts for 8 or 13 weeks depending on the type you have and is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. A disadvantage of it is that it can’t be removed or discontinued like the implant or pills. This means that any side effects that you experience can continue for as long as the injection lasts (8 or 13 weeks) and potentially for some time after.
The NHS website has more information about the contraceptive injection here.
Hormonal coil (or known as IUS)
The hormonal coil (also known as IUS) is a small, T-shaped plastic device that's put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse. It lasts for 3 to 5 years, depending on the brand. When inserted correctly, it’s more than 99% effective.
If you experience any negative side effects, it can be taken out at any time by a specially trained doctor or nurse.
The NHS website has more information on the hormonal coil (or IUS) here.
Coil (or known as IUD)
The coil, or IUD, is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that's put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse. It can last between 5 and 10 years and, when inserted correctly, they are more than 99% effective. There are no hormonal side effects, such as acne, headaches or breast tenderness. However, your periods may become heavier, longer or more painful, although this may improve after a few months.
The NHS website has more information on the coil (or IUD) here.
Condoms are the only type of contraception that can both prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
There are two types:
- external condoms, worn on the penis – sometimes called male condoms
- female condoms, worn inside the vagina – sometimes called female condoms.
When used correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are 98% effective. If used correctly, female condoms are 95% effective. There are no hormonal side effects. Some people may be allergic to latex which is in most condoms but there are other non-latex brand available.
The NHS website has more information on condoms here.
Looking for other methods of contraception?
We can provide a safe, supportive space for you to talk about what’s going on for you. We can also help think with you about how you might want to access support and make onward referrals if needed.
Family Planning Assocation
The Family Planning Association produce a number of leaflets to help women make the right choice about their contraception method.
CNWL Sexual Health Services
This page has information on a range of sexual health care you can download for free. The service also offers free and confidential sexual health services in London and Surrey.
The Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Service - also known as M-TLC - provides:
- Pregnancy loss
- Still birth and neonatal loss
- Birth trauma and women who have a fear of childbirth (tokophobia).
The service offers women psychological support through a combination of psychological therapy, specialist midwifery input and peer support. There's a particular focus on women whose early life experiences make them more vulnerable to trauma.
How to access the service
The service accepts both self-referrals and referrals from health and social care professionals, such as GPs, midwives or health visitors. Click here for more
Parental wellbeing and relationships
Looking after your own mental health and well being is an important part of being a parent and carer. Parenting is a full time job - as well as the rewards it can be tiring and stressful. If you feel low or stressed - it can feel even harder. Visit our families and relationships self-help resource page for more.
Becoming pregnant is a big life event and whether planned or unplanned, it is completely natural if you find yourself feeling a mix of emotions during this time.
The NHS website has a variety of resources that can be used to support you with different aspects of your life during pregnancy:
- Mental health issues in pregnancy
- Feelings, relationships and pregnancy
- Exercise in pregnancy
- Sleeping well in pregnancy
- Your pregnancy to-do list - print or download the list to keep track of things you need to do during your pregnancy, such as book antenatal classes, tell your work you're pregnant and think about where you'd like to have your baby.
You may be wondering how your pregnancy will affect you whilst you work. The HSE have created guidance around your health and safety at work which you can read here. It includes information on the following:
How to inform your employer
Workplace risk assessments
Raising your own safety concerns
Breastfeeding in the workplace
Welfare and general advice
You may want to know more information about Covid-19 vaccinations and fertility, pregnancy or breastfeeding.
If you are above the age of 18 and pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding you can be vaccinated against Covid-19. You can speak to your GP or maternity team for advice. If you decide to attend a vaccination appointment, you will be able to ask any questions you have at the vaccination centre.
You can find more information from here:
NHS: Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and coronavirus
Perinatal mental health (PMH) problems are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of new and expectant mums and covers a wide range of conditions.
If left untreated, mental health issues can have significant and long-lasting effects on the woman, the child, and the wider family.
Getting help and support
Talk to your GP
You can always talk to your doctor about your mental health. They can discuss your options for treatment and support, refer you to services and prescribe medication.
You are likely to be in contact with several different health professionals while you are pregnant. At some point, they should ask you about your mental health and how you're feeling during pregnancy. If they don't ask, you can always bring up any concerns you have.
The NHS website has information about the health professionals who may support you during pregnancy. You can also visit the NHS's Start4Life website for information about pregnancy and becoming a new parent.
Your health visitor
Your health visitor can offer support for looking after your baby and managing your mental health. You can also talk to them about anything you're worried about, or any difficult feelings or thoughts you're having.
They can let you know about other services in your area, or they might suggest that you speak to your doctor.
There are specialist mental health services in some parts of the country for anyone who is pregnant or has recently given birth. These are called perinatal mental health services. They include teams of specialist nurses and doctors, as well as specialist hospital wards called mother and baby units (MBUs).
Mother and baby units (MBUs) are specialist psychiatric wards in hospitals. You can be admitted to an MBU with your baby if you are having mental health problems during pregnancy or after giving birth.
The MBU can give you treatment and support for your mental health problem. They can also support you in developing parenting skills and bonding with your baby.
Voluntary organisations and charities
There are several voluntary organisations and charities who offer a range of support to families and new parents:
- Family Lives offers confidential support, information and advice for parents.
- Home Start offers a service which pairs you with a volunteer who visits you to offer practical and emotional support.
- Family Action offers specialist support services for parents with a mental health problem. This includes services during pregnancy and after giving birth.
- NCT runs a range of courses for new parents and has a membership that runs activities and social groups.
- The Association for Postnatal Illness (APNI) offers information and support about postnatal depression. This includes information for partners and carers.
- The Breastfeeding Network offers nationwide support about breastfeeding.
Tavistock Relationships are offering free relationship support for all NHS staff and social care workers.
Staff will be offered between four to six confidential and flexible sessions (mornings, evenings or weekends) with therapists via online therapy or as an individual or as a couple.
If you would like to access this offer, complete our self-referral form and select the option 'Couples counselling/Relationship difficulties'. A Keeping Well practitioner will help signpost you to more information or get in touch with Tavistock Relationships directly here.
Relate is a charity that provides counselling services for every type of relationship. They can help with marriage, LGBT issues, divorce and parenting.
Marriage Care is a national charity, specializing in adult couple relationships. They provide support for couples and individuals to build and sustain strong, fulfilling, healthy relationships.