Women's Health

The Scottish Government is working to develop a Women's Health Plan aiming to reduce health inequalities for women and girls.

Whether you're starting your period, choosing contraception, planning for pregnancy, or managing menopause symptoms, there's support available.

Life stages

The different stages in a woman's life present both health challenges and opportunities.

We understand that many aspects of women’s health are present in more than one life stage. Each stage presents important and differing opportunities to promote and protect health and wellbeing.

Girls and young women (puberty to around 25 years)

This is an important stage in life for women and girls, marking the start of menstruation, sexual activity and fertility.

Middle and reproductive years (around 25 to 50 years)

In the middle years many women will require support and services for contraception, sexual health, planning for pregnancy and specific help to manage periods and menstrual disorders.

Later years (around 51 years and over)

In this life stage women often require support to manage the transition through menopause and to help prevent the onset of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

NHS inform has lots of resources to help you at all stages of life. We can support you whether you're looking for advice, information, local support, or ideas for improving your wellbeing.

Periods and menstrual health

Girls and young women

Most girls start their periods when they're about 12, but they can start as early as 8. It's important to know about what periods are, what a normal period is and how to manage periods.

Organisations such as YoungScot and HeyGirls have some great supportive resources.

Middle and reproductive years

Period management, and support, is a long-term requirement.

It's important for women to recognise that periods can change through the life course – for example, they may last longer, become lighter or heavier. This doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong, but it should be checked out.

Some women may require specific help to manage symptoms such as heavy bleeding and pelvic pain.

For further information around periods and related content on NHS inform:

You’ll find more supportive resources on the following websites:

 

Endometriosis

Girls and young women

Endometriosis is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 10 women. Many women report first experiencing symptoms of endometriosis as teenagers. If you think you have symptoms of endometriosis, it's important that you speak to your GP.

Middle and reproductive years

Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to the ones lining the womb are found elsewhere in the body, usually within the pelvic cavity. Most women with endometriosis are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 40.

Endometriosis is rare in women who have been through menopause.

For further information about endometriosis on NHS inform:

You’ll find more supportive resources on the following websites:

Menopause

Girls and Young Women

Early menopause happens when a woman's periods stop before the age of 45. It can happen naturally, or as a side effect of some treatments. If you have not started your periods by the time you're 16 or if you’re worried about the regularity of your periods, please speak to your GP.

Middle and reproductive years

Around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency. It's worth talking to your GP if you're experiencing symptoms of menopause before 45 years of age.

Later years

Periods will continue until women reach menopause, this usually occurs when women are in their late 40s to mid-50s. Menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. In the UK the average age of menopause is 51.

Periods may start to become less frequent over a few months or years before stopping altogether. In some cases, they can stop suddenly.

Find further information around menopause and related topics on NHS inform:

You’ll find more supportive resources on the following websites:

Sex and reproductive health

Girls and young women

Sexual and reproductive health is important. This is a particularly important time as you may be considering sexual activity and fertility for the first time. Information and support is available to help you to make decisions about healthy sexual relationships, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Middle and reproductive years

Sex and reproductive health is important for these middle years. If you are looking for long-term contraception or thinking about pregnancy, support is available.

Later years

Sexual health is an important aspect of your overall wellbeing, including into older age.

Contraception

Girls and young women

Contraception aims to prevent pregnancy. Contraception is free for most people in the UK. With 15 methods to choose from, you can find one that suits you and your lifestyle best.

If you don’t want to get pregnant, it’s good to think in advance about what contraception you will use. You might want to use more than one to protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Middle and reproductive years

Considerations in this time might include long term or permanent contraception, post-natal contraception and contraception that may help heavy or painful periods.

Later years

While the need to prevent pregnancy may not be required in this life stage, it's important to consider if contraception is needed to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

For further information around periods and related topics on NHS inform:

You can find more supportive resources on the following websites:

Abortion

Girls and young women

One in three women in the UK have an abortion at some time their lives. In Scotland anyone of any age, who is pregnant, can get an abortion. It’s important to know that you have options and to know what they are.

Middle and reproductive years

There are many reasons why you might decide to have an abortion. Information and support is available to help with this decision.

For further information around abortion on NHS inform:

You’ll find more supportive resources on the following websites:

Pregnancy

If you have a medical condition, it is important that a pregnancy is planned. Speak to your GP or healthcare professional if you are considering a pregnancy.

Girls and young women

Finding out you're pregnant can be daunting at any age, especially if the pregnancy wasn't planned, but there is lots of help and support available to ensure your pregnancy is safe and healthy.

Middle and reproductive years

Staying healthy and safe during your pregnancy is important for you and your baby. Ready Steady Baby! is a great guide to pregnancy, labour and birth, and early parenthood up to 8 weeks.

For further information around pregnancy on NHS inform:

You’ll find more supportive resources on the following websites:

Heart health

Girls and young women

Heart health is important to consider at any age. If you have a heart condition, for example, some types of contraception may suit you better than others.

Regular follow-ups are also important. Even if you don’t have a heart condition this is a good time to have a healthy lifestyle to reduce the chance of heart disease in the future.

Middle and reproductive years

Heart health is important to consider in these years, particularly if you have a known heart condition and are using contraception or planning for pregnancy. Having a heart condition can affect how your body copes with pregnancy. It's important to be aware of the risks involved in pregnancy and seek tailored expert advice.

Later years

Before the menopause, women in general have a lower risk of being affected by coronary heart disease. But during and after the menopause, your risk increases.

Women can have different symptoms of heart disease. Knowing what symptoms to look out for is important. 

For further information around heart health on Inform:

You’ll find more supportive resources on the following websites:

Women's Health Plan

The Scottish Government is working to develop a Women’s Health Plan aiming to reduce health inequalities for women and girls.

Follow the progress of the Women’s Health Plan here:
Women’s Health Group - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)