Women experience unique health issues and conditions. Here are some more common ones.
Menopause is the time when a woman stops ovulating. In the months leading to menopause, women may experience symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats and dryness which can affect their quality of life and increase the risk for conditions like heart disease or osteoporosis. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), taking foods rich in plant oestrogen, doing some lifestyle changes and managing stress can provide relief from the symptoms.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women, globally. Genetic factors, family history and reproductive factors like getting your period early or your menopause late are some of the known risk factors. It’s important to do monthly breast self-examination as early detection can improves one’s survival rate. Women aged 50 and above should get mammograms every two years.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a disorder where ovulation is chronically irregular or absent, as regulatory hormones fail to cyclically rise and fall and excessive androgens are produced in the body. This can lead to ovarian cysts and affect a woman’s fertility, cardiac function, and appearance. Birth control pills can be used for long-term management and long-term prevention of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and benign breast disease.
Endometriosis involves the tissue lining the uterus — endometrial tissue — growing outside of the uterine cavity. They remain functional and sloughs off as tissue and blood and cause inflammation, scarring and pain in the pelvic area.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
Common STDs in women include chlamydia, HPV, genital herpes, gonorrhoea and Zika. Antibiotic treatment can cure STDs caused by bacteria, but there is no cure for HIV or chronic hepatitis B infection. STDs can cause complications like pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Practising safe sex like using a condom or dental dam to prevent direct contact with genitals reduces the risk of STD.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the upper genital tract that could involve parts such as the ovaries, endometrium, uterine muscular wall and the lining of the pelvis below the abdominal cavity. The main risk factors are failing to observe safe sex practices and contracting sexually-transmitted infections.
Cervical cancer is mainly caused by persistent infection of high-risk types of human papillomaviruses. Many sexually active men and women can get infected with HPV, which mostly clears up on its own but not always. Safe sex practices, including the use of condoms and having a mutually monogamous relationship, are strongly advocated.
To keep these ailments at bay, a woman should adopt a good lifestyle that incorporates regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress management, abstinence from smoking, controlled alcohol intake and safe sex practices.