What are some gynaecological conditions and preventive measures that women should be aware of?
All sexually active women should have pap smears performed routinely every 1-3 years depending on their results as this is the recommended method for cervical cancer screening. It accurately detects 90% of cervical cancers, even before symptoms develop. The early stages of cervical cancer often cause no symptoms. This is why it is so important to have regular cervical pap smear tests. If cervical cancer does cause any symptoms, the most common one is abnormal bleeding from the vagina, either between periods (mistaken as a result of hormonal imbalance) or after sex (mistaken as a result of dryness or infection). Other symptoms include unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge (mistaken as a result of vaginal infections) and pain during sex (mistaken as a result of dryness).
Getting the HPV vaccine can reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer so women who are not pregnant or have not developed cervical cancer should get themselves vaccinated with the available HPV vaccines in Singapore. Cervical cancer is not a hereditary condition. In fact, the majority of cases are caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus or HPV. HPV is a very common virus and it was found that in USA, up to 50% of couples who have ever been sexually active are likely to be infected with an HPV virus at some time in their lives. As these vaccines prevent the initial HPV infection at the point of exposure, girls from the age of 12 are routinely vaccinated at school in some countries.
Vaginal infections or vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that creates discharge, odour, irritation or itching. The 3 commonest vaginal infections are bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection and trichomoniasis vaginalis.
There are many other types of vaginal infections besides these 3 but regardless of the cause, women should seek treatment (antibiotics, antifungals or a combination of both) from their gynaecologist sooner rather than later as some infections may damage fallopian tubes and therefore cause infertility or ectopic pregnancies in the future.
PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
Premenstrual syndrome is a disorder characterized by a set of hormonal changes that trigger disruptive symptoms in a significant number of women for 7 to 10 days before menstruation and disappear a few days after menses. PMS is a natural part of the menstrual cycle, affecting 1 in every 5 women in Asia Pacific at some time during their lives.
PMS symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman and cycle to cycle, and can range from mild to severe. Some women note that their symptoms are worse during times of increased emotional or physical stress. Of the more than 150 symptoms that have been linked to PMS, the most common are listed below.
Physical symptoms include:
Behavioral symptoms include:
Emotional and cognitive symptoms include:
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS, but are severe enough to interfere with work, social activities, and relationships. PMDD occurs in 2-10% of menstruating women. Women with a personal or family history of depression or postpartum depression are at greater risk for developing PMDD. Most researchers believe that PMDD is brought about by the hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Some modern oral contraceptive pills are actually used to treat PMS and PMDD.