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Maintaining healthy lifestyle holds key in preventing gynecological disorders: Dr Anjum Malik
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Maintaining healthy lifestyle holds key in preventing gynecological disorders: Dr Anjum Malik

Post by on Sunday, July 18, 2021

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Though gynecological disorders are common these days, they can, however, be prevented and managed by avoiding junk food, exercising regularly and maintaining personal hygiene. Rising Kashmir’s Mir Baseerat speaks to Dr Anjum Malik, Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, SKIMS Medical College, Bemina about symptoms, treatment and tips to maintain overall wellbeing. 
Q: What are gynecological disorders?
A: Gynecological disorders are diseases which are associated with the female genital tract. They can be internal genital organs (uterus, tube, cervix, ovaries), or the external genital organs.
Q: Which are the most common gynecological disorders in women?
A: There are many things which are geographically or culturally related to gynecological disorders. For every geographical area or the cultural sect the disease pattern is different.
In our region (Kashmir), we can broadly categorize them into those which are seen in young unmarried girls, women in child bearing age and in pre and post menopausal females.
Dysmenorrhea: Young girls most often come with a complaint of dysmenorrhea which means having painful menstruation. This is a common symptom in young girls and not a disease. In young age group the uterus is small and during the menstrual cycle the endometrium (the internal lining of the uterus) starts growing and then around 25 to 28 days shedding/sloughing of the endometrium occurs which is called menstruation. They can take symptomatic treatment in the form of some anti spasmodic which will help them to relieve the pain.
Premenstrual Syndrome: Some girls have associated PMS and for that we have medicine which can be given to them for a couple of months which will help them to overcome that symptom. Most often they have to take symptomatic treatment during the period and once they get married and deliver a baby it resolves after that.  
Menorrhagia or heavy menstrual cycle is something many ladies complain of, for some it might be from the start of the menarche so nothing much needs to be done. Only if it is affecting their general well being then they need medicine. Hemostats can be given which will control the bleeding, but in some it can be pathological and can be associated with fibroids or polyps. Sometimes, hormonal imbalance called dysfunctional uterine bleeding occurs. If serious it needs proper investigation and management.
Ovarian Cysts: Ovarian cysts can be just physiological or pathological cysts. Sometimes there is a collection of fluid around the follicle. It grows for some time but eventually resolves within 2-3 months. If persistent needs to be evaluated and managed accordingly. Some ovarian cysts are pre malignant or overtly malignant. A proper protocol including surgery or chemo/radiotherapy which the gynecologist will follow will help in managing these cysts.
Endometriosis: This is condition where the inner lining of uterus is present on surface of uterus, ovaries, tubes etc and lead to formation of ovarian cysts called endometriomas. This can be a cause of infertility.
Vaginal Discharge: It is a very common thing that most of the patients complain of. In the reproductive age group vaginal discharge is normal; it can be premenstrual or at the time of the ovulation. As long as it is not malodorous, it is not thick and curdy and not causing itching, it is considered to be normal or physiological discharge and nothing needs to be done. One can just maintain hygiene and ensure what time of the month it is.
PCOD: It is on the rise and is the most common and leading problem in young girls. Girls these days take a lot of junk food, the carbohydrate content of the food is very high. Young girls are taking chips, chocolates and carbonated beverages which is very unhealthy. This leads to obesity and carbohydrate metabolism disorders. Polycystic ovarian disease is characterised by hyperandrogenism and anovulation manifested by acne, excessive hair growth on face, irregular periods and infertility.
We need to counsel young girls, involve them in activities like exercise, running, skipping, step jogging and bicycling which will help them to remain active.
Cervical cancer: The incidence is very low in our region.
Symptoms related to menopause: There can be post menopausal hot flashes and osteoporosis requiring hormone replacement under strict vigilance. Post menopausal bleeding should be taken very seriously and it has to be investigated and managed accordingly.
Q: What are the common gynecological symptoms for which one must consult a gynecologist?
A: Patient needs medical advice if she has anemia following menorrhagia and it is affecting her general well being. If she is not able to carry on with her day-to-day activity and is confined to bed that time or if the patient’s hemoglobin has fallen dramatically (say10 gms to 7gms)  that means she needs to consult a gynecologist immediately.
If she finds her abdomen is getting distended it can either be an ovarian cyst or it can be a big fibroid, she should seek medical advice.
One must visit the doctor if they have irregularity in periods or have sudden hair growth on face, acne, sudden and excessive weight gain or have foul smelling vaginal discharge.
Q: What is the importance of gynecological screening?
A: Cervical screening in form of PAP smear is a very important screening tool. Even though the incidence of cervical cancer is low, one should still go for cervical screening as it is highly recommended for females in reproductive age group.
Ladies with family history of ovarian or breast cancer should go for regular checkups and screening.
Q: How does hormonal imbalance affect the gynecological health of an individual?
A: It can be either at the onset of menarche which can present as irregular or heavy periods till the menstrual/hormonal cycles become regular. A girl who has just attained menarche can get very much perturbed if her cycles are irregular and heavy and result in anemia. She should consult a doctor.
Towards the premenopausal age, again there can be some degree of hormonal imbalance resulting in heavy and irregular periods. Unhealthy lifestyle can also lead to hormonal imbalances. If girls become active and take care of their eating habits, PCOS can be decreased to a large extent.
Q: General Gynecological health tips for women?
•        Maintain your weight.
•        Avoid unhealthy food.
•        Don’t skip meals, if in the workplace, school or college take some food be it salad, roti or homemade one.
•        Exercise regularly.
•        Maintain vaginal hygiene.
•        If possible go out in the sun, take lots of sunshine because ladies are predisposed to have osteoporosis. If you are not able to go out regularly then go out intermittently or take milk or any milk product which has lots of calcium and Vitamin D. Take fruits and vegetables and proteins.
•        If the menstrual cycle is heavy, take an iron rich diet and seek medical help if it affects your overall wellbeing.
Consult a gynecologist if you have any of the symptoms described above.

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