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There are three stages of caring for an expecting mother: prenatal, intranatal, postnatal care. This is essential to ensure smooth pregnancy and labour and to keep the mother healthy after giving birth. This care is a combined effort between the doctor and the expectant couple. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are expecting an addition to your family.
Prenatal care from the moment you realize that you are pregnant, a woman must start taking extra care of her body. This reduces the risks in your pregnancy and at the time of labour. But even before planning a pregnancy, it is important that couples should consult with the doctor, in order to avoid any complications in future. Thus you should ensure that regular check up not just during the pregnancy, but also before the pregnancy is equally important, so that your doctor can rule out complications arising due to factors, such as Thalassemia, Thyroid, Blood Sugar and PCOS, etc.
The main objectives of prenatal care are:
- To maintain the health of the mother
- Detect high risk cases
- Foresee complications and find ways to prevent them
- Reduce anxiety associated with delivery
Thus, an important part of prenatal care is to visit your gynaecologist regularly. These visits will be scheduled according to your age and stage of pregnancy. A few other points to keep in mind are:
- Stop smoking and stay away from passive smoking as well
- Stop drinking alcohol
- Take folic acid supplements and multivitamins
- Avoid contact with toxic chemicals like insecticides etc.
- Ensure your vaccination is up to date
- Avoid X-rays
- Do not start or stop any medication without informing your doctor first
- Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water
- Exercise regularly for half an hour daily
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid stress
- Educate yourself about childbirth
Intranatal care refers to care given to the mother and baby at the time of delivery. The main objectives here are:
- Smooth delivery without injuring mother or baby
- Preventing complications
- Delivery resuscitation for the baby
There are a number of ways to deliver a baby and whatever you choose, you must ensure the presence of a doctor at your side, while delivering a baby. Your doctor will determine the position of the fetus and help you through your delivery.
Postnatal care is essential for 6-8 weeks after the baby is born. During this period, the mother goes through a number of physical and emotional changes and thus requires rest, nutrition and vaginal care. The main objectives here are:
- Prevent postpartum complications
- Restore mother to optimal health
- Ensure problem free breastfeeding
Sharing responsibility is essential for the health of the mother, after delivery. Get as much sleep as possible and pay attention to what you eat. Do not try and lose your pregnancy weight instantly. Schedule a checkup with your doctor six weeks after delivery to ensure your vagina has healed properly. Additionally abstain from intercourse at this time. With proper care, every stage of your pregnancy can be a beautiful experience.
Many women have concerns about an ectopic pregnancy and we shall be solving all doubts about this dangerous condition right here today. An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilised egg implants outside the uterus in a woman’s body. Ectopic, in fact, means ‘out of place’. The fertilised egg usually implants in the fallopian tubes whose actual work is to transport the ovum or egg from the ovaries to the uterus for fertilisation. This is why such pregnancies are also called ‘tubal pregnancies’. Sometimes the fertilised egg can also implant in the cervix or the ovaries of the hapless woman.
Normally pregnancies happen when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the uterine wall to grow and develop. Ectopic pregnancies are a serious condition and can cause internal bleeding and infection and even death of the expecting mother. That’s why knowing the symptoms is so important.
Common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy appear as the pregnancy matures. Initially the woman will have all the usual pregnancy-related symptoms like missing her period and breast tenderness, but soon the other alarming symptoms will start appearing like severe abdominal pain on one side, vaginal bleeding, severe cramps and nausea and vomiting, fainting spells and dizziness.
One should seek a doctor’s advice right away in this condition because ectopic pregnancy can be fatal. Why? Because as the fertilised egg is implanted in a part of a woman’s body which is not built to look after it, the embryo can burst in the fallopian tubes, cervix or wherever it has managed to implant itself. This mini-explosion inside the body is a leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths during the first trimester. This can lead to internal bleeding and infection, which is lethal.
Hence, the earlier an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed and treated, the better. The only way to deal with an ectopic pregnancy is to abort it. The doctor can do this using either medicines or surgery.
The medicine ‘methotrexate’ can be used to end a tubal pregnancy. Surgery can also be used to remove the embryo.
In some cases, doctors may have to remove the fallopian tube with the implanted embryo. This has a number of repercussions. The woman can become infertile. Even if the fallopian tubes have been scarred during surgery, it becomes difficult for her to get pregnant again.
Ectopic pregnancies are also getting quite common due to a number of factors like an increase in sexually transmitted diseases which cause scarring of tubes and infertility treatments. If a woman is over 30 years of age, has a history of a pelvic inflammatory disease, a surgery in the pelvic area or has had an ectopic pregnancy before, she should be very careful indeed. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.
Postpartum is the period after one's labour and delivery. Pregnancy and postpartum are a time when a woman's body changes to a great extent in order to first accommodate the baby and then go through labour and delivery. A vaginal delivery can have many implications when it comes to the postpartum. The same goes for a Caesarean Section or C Section as well. Let us find out what your postpartum care routine should include:
Vaginal Soreness: Deal with vaginal soreness with the help of stool softeners and pain relievers, as prescribed by your gynaecologist. You should also make hygiene a priority at this time. Use a wash cloth and warm water to clean the area every time you urinate. Also, you can use an ice pack if the wound is particularly painful.
Discharge: Vaginal discharge in the postpartum period is called lochia, and it usually carries on for a few weeks after the baby is born. You must use a sanitary napkin during this period and clean up regularly. If your bleeding or discharge is accompanied by fever, then you should contact your gynaecologist immediately.
C-Section Wound: In case there is redness and swelling in the wound, accompanied by symptoms like pain and foul smelling discharge from the vagina, you will need to get in touch with your doctor immediately so that he or she can check for possibility of infections.
Movement: After a C Section, you will need to take as much rest as possible so that the wound heals properly. This includes avoiding making too many trips up and down the stairs as well. It would be a good idea to have a family member or partner around who can help as well. Gentle walks after a week or two are usually recommended for the body to come back to normal gradually.
Kegels: Do kegels or contracting exercises for the strength of the pelvic floor to return, especially after a vaginal delivery. This will help in alleviating pain and burning sensation during urination at this time.
Nutrition: Take special care to eat nutritious and home cooked food, especially if you are breast feeding. This will also help in the healing of the vaginal or C Section wound. Also, a high fibre diet will help in better bowel movements which will lessen the pain while visiting the bathroom.
Taking care of your body in postpartum is a matter of bringing it back to normal gradually even as you deal with the side effects of delivery. Ensure that you are in touch with your doctor.
A uterus has 2 layers the one with a thin layer is known as the endometrium and the thick outer layer is known as myometrium. Menstruation occurs after every 10-14 days post the ovulation. In a normal menstruation cycle, the wall of the endometrium thickens as part of the preparation process of pregnancy. In a normal scenario, the endometrium wall sheds if a woman does not conceive. While doing this the uterus might shed some blood. However, if the bleeding becomes erratic and in higher frequencies, the condition is termed as abnormal uterine bleeding.
Here is a list of reasons for abnormal uterine bleeding:
- Young girls: Any bleeding before the first menstrual cycle is termed as abnormal. The bleeding might happen due to trauma, the intervention of a foreign object, problems related the urinary tract, irritation of the uterus etc. Bleeding might also occur due to sex abuse. A qualified gynaecologist would be able to diagnose the exact cause for this condition.
- Adolescents: After the first menstrual cycle, there could be fluctuation in the subsequent menstrual cycle accompanied with excess bleeding from the uterus. This is a condition which is treatable and normalises once the ovulation and the hormonal cycle stabilises. However, if the bleeding persists in after 3-4 menstrual cycle, a doctor has to be consulted.
- Premenopausal women: There could be a variety of reasons for more than normal bleeding in women between menopause and adolescence. Some of the common reasons are hormonal changes and hormonal therapy for birth control. For women who fail to ovulate regularly can experience conditions such as endometrial polyps, uterine fibroids and uterine adenomyosis leading to excess bleeding from the uterus. Some other common factors of uterine bleeding include cervix infection, pregnancy, cervical cancer, disorders related to clotting, certain illnesses related to the kidney and liver.
- Hormonal birth control: Women taking help of hormonal birth control can experience breakthrough bleeding. This often occurs due to changes in the uterus lining. If the bleeding from the uterus persists for few months at stretch, a different birth control pill should be tried. Bleeding can also occur due to due to irregular consumption of birth control pills. If the situation does not improve, it is wise to consult a doctor to get the condition addressed.
- Menopausal transition: Towards the end of the menstrual cycle, the period timings become irregular. While the secretion of the oestrogen continues the progesterone flow declines. This phase is known as perimenopause. The sudden hormonal changes lead to an excess fluid secretion by the walls of the endometrium. The whole process can lead to an excess bleeding from the uterus. Even using birth control pills during this phase can lead to excess bleeding. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.
When the reproductive glands produce scant to no hormones like oestrogen or testosterone, then it is known as hypogonadism. These hormones are important for controlling secondary sex characteristics like development of breasts in women and testes in men and growth in pubic hair. Sex hormones are also required for the roles they play in menstrual cycle in women and sperm production in men.
Hypogonadism is curable with the right medicines.
Types of Hypogonadism
1. Primary hypogonadism: In this type, there are not enough sex hormones in your body because of a problem in your gonads (testis or ovary). In primary hypogonadism, the gonads do receive the message from the brain to produce sex hormones but cannot produce them.
2. Central/Secondary hypogonadism: In this type, the brain is wherein the problem lies. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus located in the brain do not work properly.
What causes Hypogonadism
The causes of hypogonadism can be classified according to their types.
In primary hypogonadism, the causes are:
1. Genetic disorders (for example, Turner syndrome in women and Klinefelter syndrome in men)
2. Autoimmune disorders
4. Kidney and Liver disease
In central hypogonadism, the causes are:
1. Anorexia nervosa
3. Bleeding in the pituitary area
5. Taking certain medicines (for example, glucocorticoids and opiates)
6. Anabolic steroids (alternatives to human testosterone)
8. Genetic problems (example: Kallmann syndrome- unable to start or complete puberty)
11. Hemochromatosis (excessive iron)
12. Nutritional deficiencies
Symptoms associated with Hypogonadism
Symptoms of hypogonadism in females include
1. Lack of menstruation
2. Changes in mood and energy
3. Body hair loss
4. Lack of sex drive
5. Milky discharge from breasts
Symptoms of male hypogonadism include
1. Body hair loss
2. Loss in muscles
3. Abnormal growth in breasts
4. Low libido
If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.
Low level of testosterone can end up affecting various aspects of a your life. It can affect your libido, your performance in bed along with your motivation and energy. Testosterone replacement therapy can bring the levels back to what they were before and restore his lost confidence, energy and vigour.
Testosterone is a hormone which is mainly produced in the testicles. Testosterone controls bone density, distribution of fat, muscle mass and strength, body and facial hair, red blood cell production, sex drive and production of sperms.
Testosterone levels generally lower with age, especially after 30. Usually, in older men, low levels of testosterone result in androgen deficiency. Androgen deficiency affects the muscle mass, bone density, weight and can drastically change sleep patterns as well. On the other hand, testicle injury, testicular cancer or treatment for it, hormonal disorders, infections, HIV/AIDS, chronic kidney or liver disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity can lead to low testosterone levels as well.
While testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) seems very desirable, there are certain risks and benefits which need to be considered.
Factors to be considered before opting for it
1. Sleep apnea is one of the risk factors of TRT. In this condition, breathing stops and starts repeatedly when you sleep.
2. Acne problems and other skin disorders
3. Swollen breasts. Men with breast cancer should not opt for this treatment.
4. TRT can trigger noncancerous prostate growth.
5. Sperm production is limited or the testicles might shrink
6. Chances of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in veins) leading to pulmonary embolism (clots burst and lodge into your lungs) are increased.
Benefits of getting a testosterone therapy done
1. Sexual drive, performance and function are improved.
2. Mineral density of the bones gets restored
3. Healthy weight loss, thus improving your body composition
4. Muscle strength and mass improves
5. Mood and energy gets a boost
6. Cognitive functions improve
7. Lessens the risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases
9. Reduces chances of anaemia or improves the condition if you are already suffering from it If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor.
Ovarian Cancer, as the name suggests, is a cancer that affects the ovaries. It leads to the abnormal growth of cells, which eventually spreads over to other parts of a woman’s body, such as the stomach, uterus and vagina. The risk of ovarian cancer is greater in women who have experienced the process of ovulation many times in their lifetime. It also includes those women who attain menopause at a much later stage in their lives or those who start ovulation at an early age. The different types of tumors, which develop in ovarian cells are more often than not, benign or non-cancerous and do not spread beyond the ovaries.
Therefore, they can be easily treated by either removing a part or the whole of the ovary. But malign tumors have the ability to spread to other parts of the body and can prove to be fatal.
What are the causes of ovarian cancer
1. Family History: If someone in your close relation like mother, sister or daughter has developed ovarian cancer, then the risk of becoming susceptible to the disease also increases. If any of your close relatives have developed the disease earlier at a young age, then it’s quite likely that it was due to some inherited faulty gene. BCRA1 and BCRA2 are known to be the faulty genes that are connected to ovarian cancer.
2. Age: You become more susceptible to developing ovarian cancer at a postmenopausal stage.
3. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Women who go for hormone replacement therapy put themselves at a greater risk of developing the disease. Nevertheless, if you stop undergoing the sessions of HRT, your risk of suffering from this fatal condition eventually decreases.
4. Obesity/overweight: This is also one of the important factors behind the increased risks of developing ovarian cancer. So, the more obese you are, greater is the risk involved.
What are the symptoms associated with ovarian cancer?
1. Symptoms at an initial stage include pelvic or abdominal pain, postmenopausal vaginal bleeding or irregular menstruation.
2. Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
3. Other typical symptoms are diarrhea, constipation, nausea or changes in bowel movements.
4. Feeling of mass pressure at your lower back or pelvis
Treatment available for it
Treatment for ovarian cancer generally consists of a combination of surgery and chemotherapy:
1. Surgery: Treatment usually entails removal of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes, including the surrounding lymph nodes as well as the fatty abdominal tissue, which often gets affected with ovarian cancer. This surgery may help you to retain the ability to conceive.
2. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a procedure that follows a surgery and is performed to destroy the remaining cancer cells, if any. Chemotherapy drugs are either inserted into your vein or directly into the abdominal cavity and if need be, into both. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a gynaecologist.
Dilation and curettage is a surgical procedure where the cervix (the lower part of uterus) is dilated and tissues are removed from the inside of the uterus. The procedure is usually done to treat heavy menstrual bleeding or clean the lining of the uterus after an abortion or miscarriage.
During the procedure, the cervix is dilated with medication and a thin surgical instrument is inserted through the vagina. This instrument is then used to scrape (curettage) the uterine tissues.
Reasons for Conducting the Procedure
Dilation and curettage is mostly done to either treat or diagnose certain uterine disorders. Dilation and curettage is recommended if your doctor needs to diagnose conditions such as:
1. Irregular uterine bleeding
2. Postmenopausal bleeding
3. Discovery of unnatural endometrial cells while conducting a common test for cervical cancer
Sometimes, the doctor can take a sample tissue from the uterus and perform tests on it to check for the following conditions:
1. Uterine cancer
2. Uterine polyps (abnormal tissue growth)
3. Endometrial hyperplasia (precancerous thickening of the uterine lining)
Dilation and curettage, when used for therapeutic purposes, is used in the treatment of the following conditions:
1. To clear away molar pregnancy; which is characterized by formation of tumours.
2. To treat heavy bleeding after childbirth; any remaining placenta in the uterus is removed.
3. To remove benign uterine or cervical polyps.
4. To clear away fibroids (benign tumours which form on the uterine wall)
5. To remove any tissue that could have been left behind after an abortion or miscarriage to prevent heavy bleeding or infection
What needs to be considered before opting for it?
The procedure of dilation and curettage is mostly safe. Complications from this procedure are rare, but some factors should always be taken care off.
1. The surgical instrument can perforate or poke a hole in the uterus. Sometimes, perforations can heal on their own; but if any organ or blood vessel gets damaged, then another surgery will be required.
2. The cervix can be damaged during the procedure. The doctor can stitch the wound close, or apply pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding.
3. Sometimes, there might be scar tissues on the wall of the uterus. This can cause irregular, painful or absent menstrual cycles, augment risks of infertility and future miscarriages. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
Vagina is one of the most delicate organs of your body. While you tend to the hygiene of other body parts, caring for the vagina either doesn’t strike you or it is too taboo a thing to be discussed about. Vaginal rashes are prevalent among many women and in most cases, they are not aware of ways to approach the problem. Rashes can lead to extreme uneasiness and if neglected, could even cause complicate health disorders. Thus vaginal rashes should be treated with proper medical assistance and watchful sanitation.
Factors that can cause vaginal rashes:
1. Warts in and around a person’s genital: Warts are infections that can have a painful and disturbing effect on your health. Genital warts are the result of sexually transmitted infections. The diverse kinds of human papillomavirus are known to trigger the formation of vaginal rashes.
2. Infections caused due to the predominance of viruses: Vaginal rashes may exhibit themselves in the form of aching blisters. This symptom could be indicative of Genital Herpes that further needs medical expertise to be dealt with.
3. Folliculitis could cause suffering: The base of a hair shaft is indeed a sensitive area. Any infection pertaining to hair shafts surfacing usually in the form of a red lump can worsen to cause rashes in your genitalia.
4. A cyst in the Bartholin gland could be the reason: A Bartholin gland is one of the two glands positioned at the opening of a person’s vagina. A cyst might happen to develop in any one of these glands due to accumulation of fluids produced by the glands itself. Secondary symptoms of such a condition could be red, itchy rashes.
Symptoms that help a doctor identify the prevalence of rashes in your vagina:
1. Redness of the skin in and around one’s vagina is a characteristic feature of an underlying problem.
2. Your vagina could itch persistently preventing you from free movement. Constant itching can also hamper your otherwise smoothly functioning sex life.
3. The skin around your vagina can become excessively dry and peel off as a result.
4. Tenderness and soreness are common symptoms that make sitting or lying down troublesome.
5. Vaginal rashes may or may not be accompanied by a stinging, throbbing pain. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
Uterine cancer is also known as endometrial cancer. It is a cancer which begins in the lining of the uterus. The uterus is the part of a woman's body where the fetus develops. Uterine cancer is one of those rare cancers in India, which can be diagnosed in its early stages. This is because excessive vaginal bleeding occurs, thus making it a very serious and an apparent symptom. It is also one of the few forms of cancer which can be cured as removing the uterus is often more than enough to cure the patient of uterine cancer.
Here are the causes, diagnosis and treatment of uterine cancer:
The exact cause of uterine cancer is not yet known, however, there is a theory on what causes uterine cancer. Hormones in a woman's body have been thought to increase the chances of getting uterine cancer. This is because it has long been thought that having high levels of estrogen is the cause of uterine cancer. Increased estrogen thickens the endometrium and thus, increases the likelihood of uterine cancer.
There are several tests used to diagnose whether you have uterine cancer including:
1. Pelvic exam: This is an examination in which the vagina, bladder, rectum and uterus are scanned for lumps. If they are found, it might be due to uterine cancer.
2. Pap test: A pap test is a special test designed to scan for uterine cancer.
3. Transvaginal ultrasound: A transvaginal ultrasound uses high-intensity sound waves so that pictures of the uterus can be taken.
4. Biopsy: During a biopsy, the doctor will remove tissue from the endometrium and it will then be analyzed for cancerous growths.
1. Surgery: This is the most common treatment as it removes the entire uterus and prevents the spreading of the cancer.
2. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves giving drugs which kill cancerous cells. They are given through either an intravenous line or even in pill form.
3. Hormone therapy: This is a therapy in which either progesterone levels are increased or estrogen levels are decreased.
4. Radiation therapy: In this treatment, high energy laser beams are used to destroy cancerous cells.