Article
EDUCATION CORNER

    Gynecological Health Issues

    The female body is completely different from the male body. Both are equally important, but females are superior in terms of reproduction. Females are given the most gracious gift by God: the ability to give life to a new life.


    In this journey from being a baby, a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager, a woman to a growing lady, females pass through different changes in their bodies. Due to these, she encounters various health issues. Also, the changing diet and lifestyle routine along with stress causes many physical and mental issues; Gynecological health issues. 

    Here are a few of the health issues that a woman beyond 45 years of age may encounter:  

    • DUB (Dysfunctional uterine bleeding): Any vaginal bleeding that occurs apart from the regular menstrual cycle is termed as DUB. It can be postmenopausal bleeding too. Endometrial ablation treats abnormal bleeding.  
    • Endometriosis: It is a painful condition in which uterine lining overgrows outside the uterus.  
    • Cancers (Breast, Cervical, Ovarian): Cancer is uncontrolled growth of cells.


    In woman following cancers are most common:  


    Breast Cancer:  


    Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women worldwide. Most breast cancers occur over the age of 50 and the chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer are very high, especially between the ages of 50 to 59. Even then, breast cancer is one of the few cancers that have a real good prognosis if detected at an early stage. A mammogram can be done as screening for breast cancer. Let’s understand more about breast cancer. 


    Symptoms of breast cancer:  

    • A lump in the breast or underarm  
    • Breast pain  
    • A flattening breast 
    • Indentation in the breast 
    • Nipple changes like scaly rash or itching, dimpling of nipple, retraction of nipple 
    • Burning sensation in the nipples  
    • Any unusual change in breast like texture of skin, color or temperature of breast 
    • Unusual discharge from the nipple  
    • Development of a new mole or change in the already present mole 
    • Changes in bladder or bowel movements 
    • Tiredness  
    • Weight gain or loss  
    • Cough or hoarseness that doesn’t go 


    These symptoms may take some time to appear in a woman. So, every woman should undergo breast screening every year. Frequency of screenings can be increased in the presence of the following risk factors:   

    • Menopause  
    • Age above the age of 50 
    • Dense breast tissue increases the risk of developing breast cancer 
    • Presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation  
    • Family history of breast cancer especially in case of first degree relatives (parent, sibling or child)  
    • Alcohol  
    • Undergoing hormone replacement therapy 
    • Taking or taken oral contraceptives 
    • Obesity etc.  


    Treatment and Prevention 


    Early detection with a regular screening of breast cancer minimizes the chances of late diagnosis of breast cancer or its spread. A mammogram is the most effective and simple way to test breast cancer. It is just like an X-ray which can show changes that indicate breast cancer.  Treatment depends upon the stage of breast cancer, its type, rate of growth, and whether it has spread or not. Depending upon all this and more, treatment for breast cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and newly developed medication therapy (like hormone and biological therapy). 


    Ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer  

    • Regular exercise  
    • Eating a healthy, well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables 
    • Maintain ideal body weight 
    • void alcohol & smoking 
    • Evaluate risks of hormone replacement therapy if taking 


    Self- examination is very important for breast cancer awareness and early diagnosis of breast cancer. It will alert you in case of any changes occurring in the breast and if there are any, immediately consult a doctor for a checkup. 


    Steps for self-examination of breast: 


    1.Stand in front of a mirror with hands at sides. Inspect breasts for: 

    • changes in shape, size, or symmetry 
    • dimpling 
    • inverted nipples 
    • puckering (fold) 
    • asymmetrical ridges at the bottom 


    2.Now keep arms overhead, and lift one breast at a time to examine for any abnormality 

    • Use the pads of fingers and not the tips  
    • Also, inspect breasts while lying down and again in the shower 
    • Use varying degrees of pressure  
    • Massage fingers in a spiral pattern over breasts starting from the nipple 


    3.Squeeze nipples to check for any discharge 

    In case you find any abnormality or lump, don’t panic and visit a doctor for proper examination. 


    CERVICAL CANCER​


    Cervical cancer is the abnormal growth of cells of the cervix that can invade in adjoining tissues or organs. Most commonly, cervical cancer is diagnosed in women in their mid-50s. 


    Causes of cervical cancer:

    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection 
    • Early exposure to sexual contact 
    • Having multiple partners in sex 
    • Smoking and alcohol addiction 
    • Oral contraceptive pills 


    Cervical cancer symptoms: 

    Symptoms may take a long time to develop but some patients may complain of the following:  

    • Pain during or after sex 
    • Menstrual abnormalities 
    • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge 
    • Pain in pelvic region or back or legs 
    • Weight loss 
    • Nausea  
    • Fatigue 


    Diagnosis of cervical cancer: 

    Following tests may be done to find out cervical cancer 

    • Pap smear and high risk HPV testing (can also be done for cervical cancer screening)  
    • Cervical cell biopsy 
    • Colposcopy 
    • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) 
    • Conization – removal of portion of cervix. 


    Treatment of cervical cancer: 

    Treatment depends upon the stage of cervical cancer, its type, rate of growth, and whether it has spread or not. Depending upon all this and more, treatment may include 

    • Hysterectomy 
    • Radiation therapy 
    • Chemotherapy 
    • Biological therapy 


    Prevention 

    • Go for Pap test and HPV test every 3 years 
    • Do not indulge in multiple sex partners 
    • Use condom for protection from infection 
    • Avoid oral contraceptive pills 
    • Quit smoking and alcohol 


    Ovarian Cancer

    Ovarian cancer mostly shows no symptoms in the early stages and only later stages are associated with symptoms. But the symptoms are very non-specific and can be missed.


    Signs of ovarian cancer are:  

    • Loss of appetite  
    • Weight loss 
    • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis 
    • Gastric problem 
    • Bowel changes etc.  
    Frequently Asked Questions

    Abnormal bleeding can be due to various reasons. It can be a sign of menopause too. But various other problems can also cause abnormal bleeding, so it is advised to visit a gynecologist and get the complete examination done. Any disease found earlier is better to manage than being late.

    Irregular periods with abdominal pain can be a concern. It can be due to various abnormalities in the female reproductive system. It is best to undergo a thorough examination to find out the real cause of abnormal bleeding and take medication for the same.  

    Although it is mentioned and advised by most of the doctors to stay physically active to stay healthy, there is little research that confirms its link with reduced risk of breast 

    cancer. However, staying active is a healthy lifestyle and should not be missed just because there is no established link. Stay active and stay healthy.

    Drinking and smoking are bad addictions and put your health at risk for various disorders including cancer. It is advised to quit or minimize smoking and alcohol and adopt a 

    healthy diet and lifestyle routine to stay protected from cancer.  

    Yes, genetic testing can help in identifying the risk of hereditary ovarian cancer. It tests for the gene and finds out if the tested person has inherited the responsible mutated gene

    or not.

    It's relatively rare, but some ovarian cysts can be malignant, or cancerous. A regular check on the changes in the cysts may help in early diagnosis if these cysts turn malignant or are malignant.