Feature Article

Gynaecological assessment in the elderly

Caroline De Costa, Elizabeth McKenna



Although the changes of ageing can make gynaecological assessment of elderly women more challenging than that of younger women, full investigation and appropriate referral so that patients benefit from up-to-date treatments can be rewarding for women and doctors alike.

Key Points

  • Many gynaecological problems, both benign and malignant, become more common with age.
  • Take a full history, including a sexual history, in women presenting with gynaecological symptoms.
  • Do not make assumptions about an older woman’s sexuality – talk to the older woman as comfortably as you would to a younger woman.
  • Do not assume that elderly women with intercurrent medical conditions that may warrant surgery should not be referred. Modern anaesthesia and surgical techniques have reduced the risks of gynaecological surgery in such patients.