Female Reproductive Health

Female Reproductive Health

Educate girls about menstruation before it begins

says Dr Sabahat Khan, a gynecologist & infertility expert at Doctors Hospital and Medical Centre Lahore, in an interview with Aqsa Naeem

?SN: What is a healthy menstrual cycle

It is a process a female body goes through every month as it prepares for the possibility of pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, body releases hormones which cause bleeding from the uterus (organ where baby grows). This cycle begins on the first day of bleeding and ends on the first day of next period. Its length ranges from 21 to 35 days and bleeding lasts for two to eight days. shifanews

?SN: When is the cycle considered irregular

If the length of cycle or gap between periods keeps changing, it is considered irregular. Having irregular periods occasionally is common. But if the cycle is often very long or short, or changes every month then there is a problem. You need to consult a doctor if you also experience missed periods, intermenstrual bleeding, heavy bleeding or blood clots. shifanews

SN: Which health issues are caused by menstrual irregularity? shifanews

Hormonal imbalance is the main reason behind irregularity. Other health issues include depression, acne, weight gain, increased facial and body hair growth and infertility. shifanews

?SN: What does spotting before period indicate

Spotting means small amount of bleeding before, during or after periods. It can be an early sign of pregnancy, side effect of medicine, hormonal imbalance, infection, uterine or cervical polyp (abnormal tissue growth) or stress. shifanews

?SN: At what age can periods begin

It varies individually but menarche or first menstruation can start between 8 to 17 years and average age is 12 to 13 years. Factors influencing it are still unclear but genes, socio-economic status, general health and certain type of exercises can play a role. Seek help if they start before or after this age. shifanews

?SN: What matters more; quantity or duration of periods

Both are important. Spotting, heavy flow with clots or bleeding for less than two or more than eight days requires examination. shifanews

SN: Why do women experience mood swings and irritability before and during periods? shifanews 

These and some other symptoms are termed as premenstrual syndrome. Hormonal fluctuation in second half of menstrual cycle is responsible for it. After ovulation, that is when the egg releases, estrogen level drops, progesterone rises and then drops. This effects serotonin levels too. Low amount of which causes mood swings, irritability and sleep disorders. shifanews

SN: What causes pain and discomfort before and during menses? Also how are vomiting, diarrhea and bloating related to it? shifanews 

Prostaglandins are hormone like substances involved in pain and inflammation. They cause uterine muscles to contract and expel innermost layer of uterus, leading to menstrual cramps. When some of these substances get into blood stream they result in vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and headache. shifanews 

?SN: Why does the intensity of pain differ

It is usually due to increased amount of estrogen and progesterone along with prostaglandins. Other serious causes are disorders like cervical stenosis (narrowing of neck area of spine), adenomyosis (growth of tissue in uterus muscles) and endometriosis (tissue growth outside the uterus). Consult your physician if the pain starts disturbing routine activities. shifanews

.SN: Suggest some remedies to reduce pain

Heat therapy on lower abdomen has a soothing effect. Likewise, gentle exercises and walk can reduce bloating and cramps. Over the counter painkillers and increased fluid intake can relieve pain. Herbs for example vitex, also known as chaste berry help balance hormones. Magnesium due to its muscle relaxing property is beneficial too. Its sources are dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, nuts and low fat milk and yogurt. shifanews

?SN: What causes abnormal bleeding

Uterine structural abnormalities, fibroids (non-cancerous growth), adenomyosis, hormonal imbalance, endocrine disorders like hypo or hyperthyroidism, hyperprolactinemia, ovulatory disorder, intrauterine contraceptive devices, erratic use of exogenous hormones, infection of genital tract and genital tract cancer. shifanews

?SN: What causes late or missed periods after menarche

Most common ones are polycystic (fluid-filled sacs) ovaries, sudden weight loss or gain, stress, tough exercises, erratic intake of some medicines, pregnancy and breastfeeding. All of these cause hormonal imbalance and affect monthly cycle. shifanews

?SN: Why is it necessary to keep track of monthly cycle

Every woman should keep track of her cycle. It helps her handle the situation well. Also allows her to identify unusual changes in periods or the cycle itself. shifanews

SN: Which menstrual product has minimum side effects? Also, how often should one change them? shifanews 

High absorbency pads are safer than tampons and cups. They can be changed according to need but should not be used for more than four to six hours. Otherwise they may cause rashes, irritability and infection. shifanews

SN: Are feminine hygiene products like scented soaps, safe to use? shifanews

Yes, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration, they are safe to use. shifanews

?SN: What is menstrual hygiene

It means using clean material to collect period blood, changing it as per need, washing one’s self properly with soap and water and properly disposing of used napkins. This practice can help prevent reproductive and urinary tract infections. shifanews

SN: Some women think taking shower during periods is unsafe. Your take on this? shifanews 

No, it is not true. In fact, warm bath can reduce cramps and create a feeling of freshness. shifanews

SN: Is it true that menstrual blood is not part of normal blood? shifanews

No. Menstrual blood is from the blood circulating in our entire body. So excessive bleeding results in anemia and its complications. shifanews

SN: How can mothers educate their daughters regarding this natural change? shifanews 

They should discuss unhesitatingly and educate them about menstrual cycle and hygiene management before their first period. It helps young girls to cope with anxiety, depression and other issues related to pubertal changes. shifanews

SN: What is the difference between normal and abnormal leucorrhea? shifanews

Normal leucorrhea is a colorless or milky white discharge. If it is malodorous, colorful (green, curdy white or yellow), blood tinged and causes itching, then medical attention is required. shifanews

?SN: What causes abnormal discharge

Pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria or fungus are responsible for infective discharge. Reproductive tract cancers may cause blood tinged discharge. shifanews

?SN: What can be done to prevent vaginal infections

Menstrual hygiene management, changing wet clothing as soon as possible and wearing breathable under garments can help prevent them. Also, women should avoid using deodorants or cleaning inner area of private parts with water and other solutions. shifanews

SN: Suggest some tips to maintain good reproductive health.shifanews

Women must practice good hygiene, take healthy diet with low sugar content and increase vegetable consumption. Apart from that moderate exercise, stress management, avoiding alcohol and smoking and taking proper sleep is important. shifanews

Female reproductive health, menstural pain, leucorrhea, importance of menstrual hygiene, irregular or regular menses

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