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Five things to know about your gynae health – Myths and Facts

Myth 1: I don’t need to visit a gynaecologist till I’m pregnant or have a problem. I’m in the pink of health and get my basic annual health checks every year. False: even if you get your health checks and blood work done every year you need a gynecological evaluation done. There’s more to your […]

Myth 1: I don’t need to visit a gynaecologist till I’m pregnant or have a problem. I’m in the pink of health and get my basic annual health checks every year.
False: even if you get your health checks and blood work done every year you need a gynecological evaluation done. There’s more to your system than the changes of pregnancy . You need to get an internal check up, a Pap’s smear every 3 years after 21 years of age, an HPV test as a combined test with Paps smear after 30 years , a breast examination every year, an ultrasound of the pelvis / Transvaginal sonography and a mammography every year after 40 years of age . And there’s more – fibroids, ovarian cysts, PID, UTI, endometriosis, abnormal uterine bleeding , malignancies of the gynaecological system and problems pertaining to menopause that you need to be vigilant about that requires testing. So do remember your gynaecologist even before and after your pregnancy.

Myth 2: I have got my / my daughter’s HPV vaccination. I don’t need to get my Pap’s smear done. I have antibodies against the virus now.
False: It is great you’ve got vaccinated. A lot of people probably are not even aware they need to get vaccinated between 9-26 years of age . The HPV vaccine affords protection not just against cervical cancer but also against vaginal, vulval and anal cancer as also against anal and genital warts. However , please remember that you still need to be screened by regular Pap’s smears and /or combined tests for HPV.

Myth 3: Pap’s smears test for sexually transmitted diseases.
False: Pap’s smears screen for cervical cancer which is caused by the sexually transmitted HPV but not for all STDs. That’s the reason why you must reveal your sexual history to your gynaecologist and get tested for STDs like Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria Gonorrhoea, Candida, Hepatitis B, HIV etc. Most of them are treatable infections, have long standing ramifications like tubal blockage , infertility and even tubal pregnancies; so be more proactive about your own health.

Myth 4: Menopause is inevitable and so are it’s symptoms. Our moms endured them unflinchingly. We must do the same.
False: while it’s true that menopause is inevitable but it’s a myth that problems are easy to endure. Talk to post menopausal women drenched in sweats with hot flashes, trying to cope with genitourinary problems like repeated UTI and vaginal dryness. Anxiety, irritability and anger, weak bones, as also a completely failing sexual life due to painful coitus – these are every day issues no woman should have to cope with. There are many solutions available including MHRT or Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy. This had gone into disrepute many years ago due to the fear of gynaecological cancers like breast and ovarian cancers. However recent studies have found them to be very safe in carefully selected women with no contraindications. Why must you suffer silently ? Please meet your gynaecologist and discuss all your menopause woes and solutions.

Myth 5: Motherhood comes naturally to all women. It’s a cakewalk once the baby is born.
False: Pregnancy comes with its share of feelings – both good and bad . So do the postpartum problems. Once the baby is born, many women may have problems like lactation issues , postpartum depression , exhaustion , alopecia , anemia and an extremely low libido . And it doesn’t make you a bad mother just because you jostle with these problems.
It’s important be be cognizant of some of these problems across all ages . Be educated , aware and empowered . And remember to take help – empathetic partners , family , friends and doctors are all around you ! Be your own best advocate!

The author is a Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Rainbow Hospital ,Rosewalk Healthcare and Fortis La femme

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