Ask the Doctor: It’s 2019! Go for a pap smear : Evewoman - The Standard
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Ask the Doctor: It’s 2019! Go for a pap smear

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Every New Year comes with new aspirations, and some inevitable challenges. It isn’t unusual to get caught up with all the humdrum, and sometimes forget stuff that really matters.

Like your health for example. But it’s easy to incorporate your reproductive health into other ambitious plans for this year, and maintain yourself in an optimal health status.

Disease preventive strategies are key aspects of reproductive health. Simple things like maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating healthy and avoiding toxins are linked with optimal reproductive health.

Women who observe all are less predisposed to menstrual problems, fertility issues, and have even lower chances of some cancers. It shouldn’t really be difficult for you to inculcate a healthier lifestyle this year, and reap benefits of better health.

1. Don’t wait to fall ill

Disease prevention must be coupled with screening tests for various ailments. Routine gynaecology screening is pretty well established for certain conditions like sexual infections and cancers of the reproductive system.

As an example, every sexually active woman should have regular pap smears and/or HPV testing to screen for cervical cancers. Coupling screening with HPV vaccination not only prevents cervical cancer, but also enables cure for those found to harbour early disease. Make it a point to keep your recommended screening tests up to date this year.

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2. Look out for these symptoms

If you unfortunately get caught up with some lingering symptoms, don’t just wish them away. Yes, some mundane symptoms are usually transient, and you can either ignore them or use simple remedies. But anything that cannot be easily explained, and is persistent, requires to be checked out.

Don’t ignore recurrent abnormal bleeding, or pelvic pain for example. A timely gynaecological assessment would usually be necessary to exclude potentially more serious diagnoses. You always stand a better chance of a cure if a diagnosis is made early, and appropriate treatment instituted promptly.

3. Take better care of yourself

You shouldn’t ignore other aspects of your health even when you are on top of your reproductive health. Keep abreast with other specialists, or a good family physician. They will help you adhere to additional recommendations, thereby maintaining a holistic health status. We are talking of preventive and promotive strategies for conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases including non-reproductive cancers.

4. Don’t spook yourself

Try your best not to get too paranoid about health either. Some have taken it too far, without necessarily becoming any healthier than the rest.

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Swallowing every cleverly marketed supplement doesn’t do any good to women who are already in good health. Some studies actually suggest potential for harm.

You don’t get any benefits either by subjecting yourself to questionable screening and testing in the absence of a solid scientific basis.

An example is full body imaging, which is hardly justifiable. Health paranoia can lead you to a dark path, and an untimely death related to ill-advised interventions.

 

Dr Alfred Murage is a consultant gynaecologist and fertility specialist. [email protected]

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