Women, while wearing many hats and juggling many roles and responsibilities, often forget to take care of their health. Women’s Day comes as a reminder every year that they need to prioritise their health and well-being, before doing other things. On the occasion, Dr Deepthi Ashwin, a senior obstetrician and gynecologist at Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru talks about some important health issues that women ought to know about.
Here are eight most-common ailments; read on.
* Endometriosis: This happens when the glands lining the uterus develop outside it, on ovaries, bladder, rectum. It causes painful and/or heavy periods, pain during intercourse, infertility. Treatment can be medical or surgical.
* Fibroids: These are the most common non-cancerous tumours in child-bearing women. It can cause heavy and/or painful periods, infertility, pregnancy complications like miscarriages or early labour. They grow at a very slow rate. Not all fibroids warrant treatment.
* Vaginal infections and STI: These occur because of a variety of causes like bacterias (bacterial vaginosis, chlamydial infections, gonorrhoea), fungi (candidiasis), parasites (trichomoniasis), viruses (HPV, HSV). A simple examination by your doctor can diagnose most infections and appropriate treatment can be started. It is essential to treat these infections at the earliest to prevent complications.
* Urinary tract infections: They are more common in women. They can lead to increased frequency of urination, burning urination, urgency. In more severe cases, they can cause blood in the urine, pain in the lower abdomen and fever. A urine culture and sensitivity needs to be performed to know the organism causing it and the appropriate antibiotics required to treat it. You need to consume plenty of fluids and a urine alkalizer may be needed in some cases.
* Pregnancy issues: Diabetes, hypertension, preterm labour, miscarriage. Late conception is now increasing medical diseases complicating the pregnancy.
* Polycystic ovarian syndrome: Occurs when there is overproduction of male hormones. Ovaries may contain multiple small cysts. It may cause irregular cycles, reduced flow during cycles, weight gain, abnormal hair growth on face and chest. It is important to keep your weight under control to suppress the hormones.
* Menopausal issues: Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, prolapse, urinary incontinence, osteoporosis. It is important for menopausal women to eat nutritious diets and make sure to exercise regularly.
* Cancer: Two of the most common cancers affecting women are breast and cervical cancers.
Breast cancer may cause lumps in the breast, dimpling of the breast skin, retraction of nipples or nipple discharge (except milky). Early diagnosis improves the outcome among women. It is important for women to be familiar with self-breast examination for early detection. Breast ultrasound and mammograms may detect cases early.
Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in women. Symptoms include bleeding between periods or after sex, foul smell discharge. It is essential that all sexually-active women undergo regular PAP smears to detect them early. Receiving HPV vaccinations can prevent HPV infections and may reduce the risk of cervical cancer.