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The vagina is a tube-like muscular structure of the female genital tract that extends from the cervix to the vulva. It is a delicate organ which is prone to injuries and infections.Complications related to urination, menstruation and sexual intercourse- all affect the vaginal health.
1. Why does it feel itchy before menstruation?
The hormonal cycle reduces the amount of estrogen secreted right before the period starts. This reduces the moisture content of the inner membranes of the vagina; the skin becomes thinner and slightly dry. This can cause the itching. However, if the itching and burning sensation is too severe, it could be an infection and should be checked out.
2. What is the white discharge?
The greasy white discharge is due to the ovulation cycle. It usually occurs once a month because the amount of secretion increases right before ovulation. Some women may experience this discharge more frequently but it is nothing to worry about unless there is an unpleasant odor. Odorous discharge could be a sign of bacterial infection.
3. How often should you have a vaginal examination?
You should get a vaginal examination at least once a year. This is important for a general health assessment and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. If you are using birth control medication, there might be irregularity in the hormonal cycles and this can lead to a number of conditions- another reason to get an annual vaginal examination.
4. Does it smell differently at different times?
It usually smells differently for every woman and even that unique smell changes with the cycles of ovulation and menstruation due to changes in the pH level of the vagina. The normal vaginal pH value is between 3.8 and 4.6. Before menstruation, it may smell acidic followed by a bitter smell for a few days after menstruation. It may also smell differently after a workout (due to sweat) or after sex (due to lubrication). However, a foul smell accompanied by discharge, might be a cause for concern.
5. Why does it feel dry sometimes?
Vaginal dryness is normally experienced by women after the age of 45 or after pregnancy. However, dryness is also common just before menstruation. It also happens in women who use anti-allergy medications or birth control pills because they cause dryness in all the mucous membranes of the body.
PCOS is a disorder characterized by enlarged ovaries and the formation of tiny cysts on the outer sides of the ovaries. Polycystic Ovary is a hormonal condition that stimulates surplus production of androgen in women. Androgen being a “male hormone,” causes development of muscle mass and hair in men, and it has similar effects on women as well when present in high amount. They trigger acne and excessive growth of body hair in women accompanied by irregular or lack of ovulation in the form of absent or erratic menstrual cycle. Hence, owing to troubles in ovulation (discharge of ovules from the ovaries), one may experience difficulties in getting pregnant.
Many women suffering from PCOS are unaffected by the influence of the hormone ‘insulin’, which indicates, that it requires a larger amount of insulin to sustain a normal blood sugar level. High levels of insulin as a result of insulin resistance, in turn drastically boosts androgen production.
Symptoms of PCOS include:
Irregular Menstrual Cycle. Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods (fewer than eight in a year). Or, their periods may come every 21 days or more often. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods.
Excessive hair. Excessive hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair. This is called "hirsutism." Hirsutism affects up to 70% of women with PCOS.3
Acne. Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
Weight Gain. Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Skin Darkening. Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
Skin tags. Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
Treatment for PCOS:
There is apparently no procedure to cure PCOS and improve fertility; but the treatment is tailored as per the symptoms of the condition:
A lack of ovulation and menstrual cycles hinders the secretion of progesterone (a hormone preparing the uterus for pregnancy), thus hampering conception. In this case, the treatment is directed at maintaining a regular ovulation and menstrual cycle which can be fixed by consuming birth control pills. These pills comprise of both progestin and estrogen which aid to bring down androgen production.
PCOS along with insulin resistance warrants the use of certain medications such as metformin which are prescribed to enhance insulin sensitivity.
During your pregnancy, you’ll be faced with lots of choices regarding your pregnancy, labour and birth. Your choices about how your birth are usually influenced by personal opinion, previous history, medical or pregnancy issues and your caregiver’s suggestion/preference.