Annual Gyn Exam:
Although no one
likes to have a gyn or pelvic exam done, it's very important to
your health now and in the future. The exam helps to make sure
that your reproductive organs are healthy and helps your doctor to
detect medical conditions (such as infections or abnormal Pap
smears) that could become serious if not treated.
Will It Hurt?
examination will not hurt. Many women describe the experience as a
sensation of crowding or fullness in the vagina; however, there
should be no pain. Sometimes a woman will feel discomfort,
especially if she is tense. The key to the pelvic exam is
relaxation. Take slow, deep breaths and try to distract your mind
to help you relax.
The Pap Test
During your exam,
you will also be given a Pap test, which is a screening test that
helps your doctor detect cellular changes in your cervix (the
opening to the womb at the end of the vagina). You hear the term
all the time and mostly you don't think much about it unless you
get the dreaded call saying that your pap test is abnormal but do
you know the facts about pap tests?
For example, even
if your Pap test shows abnormal cells, it doesn't necessarily mean
you have cancer. In fact, about one in ten Pap test results show
some kind of abnormality. In addition to cancer, reasons for
abnormal results include inflammation, infection, hormonal changes
and the presence of pre-cancerous cells.
PMS consists of various physical and/or emotional symptoms that
occur in the second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation.
It is characterised by premenstrual discomfort in the lower
abdomen and back, and in the breasts. All these features precede
the period by a week or ten days. Fortunately, a woman obtains
relief when her menstrual period begins. Another feature of PMS is
a symptom-free time for several days every month, in the first
half of the menstrual cycle.
These include physical features like acne, backache, bloating,
sore breasts, and headache. Emotional symptoms might include
changes in sexual desire, difficulty concentrating, and
Women may gain upto a kg. of weight or more in the latter part of
the menstrual cycle due to water retention in the body. Emotional
stress often contributes to the symptoms.
The only saving grace in this problem is that few women experience
all these symptoms! Most have a few that recur each month.
The symptoms of certain medical conditions can resemble PMS. These
conditions include allergies, depression, diabetes, dysmenorrhoea
(painful periods), endometriosis, fibrocystic breast disease, and
There's still some disagreement about what causes PMS, but it
definitely seems to be linked to hormones. A relative lack of the
hormone progesterone is suspected along with increase in a water
retaining substance called anti diuretic hormone.
What is gynecological cancer?
Gynecological cancer is
cancer that afflicts the reproductive organs of a woman. There are
many forms of gynecological cancer, but the most common include:
Gynecological Cancer: Who is at Risk?
gynecological cancers can affect any woman, some women may be at
greater risk. Recognizing the risk factors in your life can help
you take advantage of available health screenings that can detect
problems before they become serious. Even more important, many
risk factors signal a need to change your lifestyle – by taking
control and eliminating behaviours or conditions that can lead to
Risks vary depending on the type of cancer, but there are some
may be higher when:
You’re at or beyond the age of
You have a family history of
ovarian cancer or cancers of the uterus, colon or breast
You have never been pregnant or
have had infertility problems
You are obese
You have hypertension, diabetes,
chronic vulval irritation, or late menopause
You use the medication tamoxifen or
use unopposed estrogen
You don’t have regular Pap
You have had multiple sexual
You first had intercourse before
the age of sixteen
are infected with HIV or HPV
Taking good care of yourself and following your physician’s
recommendations for regular care and screenings can go along way
toward avoiding cancer and other diseases.
Warning Signs of Gynecologic Cancer
What Can You Do?
You can help
protect your good health by having annual gynecological
examinations and Pap tests. Discuss any concerns or changes with
your doctor. Though gynecological cancers do not always have
obvious symptoms, there are some signs for which you should see a
doctor as soon as possible.
Consult a Doctor if you
A sore that doesn’t heal
Unusual vaginal bleeding or
A thickening or lump that either
causes pain or can be seen or felt
Pain in the pelvic area
Changes in bowel or bladder habits
If these or other
symptoms require evaluation or care, your primary care physician
or obstetrician/gynecologist may recommend that you see a
gynecological oncologist, a specialist in caring for women with
cancers of the reproductive system.