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- It is during this period that you get to look back and if you have been carefree or on the wrong end of reproductive health, you have the opportunity to restore things
- With the year ending, it is time to make plans of starting screening next year as it is not too late even if you have been reluctant to do so this year
- Around Christmas is also the time when you bring back the topic of pregnancy if you have been postponing pregnancies due to other competing interests
The holiday season is here with us. Many of us will spend most of the coming days away from work, taking time to relax with family and friends. You may also get yourself some private moments, reflecting on how the year has unfolded and probably chart a path for the coming year.
Make sure you give your health a prominent spot when looking backwards, and planning forward. You may have done all the right things, and you are in good health, but you cannot become complacent as that would negate the health gains you made.
If you have been carefree and you are on the wrong end of reproductive health, you have a chance of redressing this.
For starters, have you kept yourself up to date with gynaecological health screening? Depending on your age, this means screening for cervical cancer, breast cancer, sexual health and other ailments.
Screening programmes save lives, and are easily accessible in both public and private healthcare facilities. It's not too late to start your screening next year if you have been reluctant to do so. Your gynaecologist will guide you on what you should be screened for, and how often.
What about your reproductive health plans? If you already have children, this is not really an issue for you. All you need is effective contraception to help you avoid any unwanted pregnancies.
If you have been postponing pregnancies due to other competing interests, you should bring this back into the equation.
Beware of the inevitable biological clock as the potential to reproduce begins to decline sharply in the mid-thirties and the process is irreversible, even with modern reproductive technologies.
The older you get, the more complications you might suffer in pregnancy. So find a way of fitting in your pregnancies with other commitments, or get your eggs frozen as a back-up.
Reproductive health cannot be separated from your general health. You must keep your weight in check, both by physical activities and watching what you eat.
Overweight women have poorer reproductive performances, and are more predisposed to gynaecological diseases that include cancer.
Toxic habits like smoking and excessive drinking are not just risk factors for cardiac and metabolic diseases, they also impact on your reproductive health. Keep yourself in a state of good general health.
So sit back and enjoy yourself over Christmas and New Year. Don't just take stock of your economic and career achievements. Review your prevailing health status as well. And when putting together ambitious goals for next year, do not forget reproductive health goals. Optimal health will facilitate the achievement of all your other endeavours.
— Dr Alfred Murage is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist