Visiting a Gynaecologist is rarely top of the ‘to do’ list, however, it’s a trip that every woman should make at least once a year.
Despite it being 2018, women’s intimate health still remains an awkward and taboo topic, leaving many women clueless and misinformed when it comes to the key facts.
Here, Tania Adib, Consultant Gynaecologist at The Lister Hospital part of HCA UK, shares her expert knowledge and first-hand account of the top things your gynaecologist wants women to know, and what everyone should be aware of:
DON’T BE EMBARRASSED
Tania Adib says: “50% of the population are female which means you’re certainly not alone when it comes to feminine health problems, issues, or concerns! Trust me when I say, we Gynaecologists have seen and heard it all - so there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to intimate health.
We are here to help and there is no problem, great or small, that we haven’t encountered so there is no need to fear or feel uncomfortable.”
TALK ABOUT INTIMATE HEALTH WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Tania Adib says: “I’m often told by my patients that I’m the first person they have spoken to about the concerns they have regarding their intimate health and/or sex life. This is always a bit frustrating to hear as having the support of a family member or close friend when experiencing a health problem is so beneficial. You never know, a friend/family member could have experienced the same problem and speaking about it openly will not only potentially help to find a solution but will also make the conversation much less awkward moving forward.”
THEY WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR SEX LIFE – SO TELL THEM!
Tania Adib says: “When a patient comes in for a consultation, one of the things I will ask is how sexually active they are and if there are any issues with the intimate side of their relationships. It’s important that patients are honest about any discomfort or pain they are experiencing, as we can usually find a solution or treatment that will allow them to go on to lead a normal and healthy sex life.”
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHARE FAMILIAL HEALTH ISSUES
Tania Adib says: “Any concerns about well-being or hereditary health issues – such as a gynaecological cancer – should always be raised with a medical professional as soon as possible. As Gynaecologists, we can carry out a thorough, in-depth consultation and analysis of family history which can help to put patient’s minds at ease, or identify any factors which may be a cause for concern.”
THEY REALLY DO WANT TO SEE YOU ONCE A YEAR
Tania Adib says: “Regularly checking in with a Gynaecologist should be treated with the same level of importance as any other medical check-up - so make sure you factor in time for a consultation at least one a year. During a consultation, we will check that everything is looking healthy, and the patient also has an opportunity run any health concerns/issues past us when it comes to their intimate or sexual health.”
ITS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A GOOD RAPPORT
Tania Adib says: “Personally, I like to build a good rapport and strong level of trust with all my patients. It’s essential that my patients feel safe and trust my opinion and suggested routes of treatment. Discussing intimate health is very personal and it’s imperative that patients feel comfortable with the Gynaecologist they visit. Patients shouldn’t be afraid to look around until they find someone that they are 100% comfortable and at ease with.”
APPROACH FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS WITH CAUTION
Tania Adib says: “From washes, to wipes, to sprays - there are a whole host of feminine care products available online and in-store nowadays. However, many of these products can actually do more harm than good, by disrupting the natural pH balance of the vagina and causing damage to the vaginal tissues. This can lead to a whole host of undesirable problems, from itching and burning sensations, to infections, so it’s important to know what’s safe to use and what might cause a problem.
Generally, I advise avoiding feminine care products altogether, and instead recommend that women use an unperfumed soap. However, if women really want to use wipes or shower gel then I would advise opting for products that contain natural ingredients.”
DON’T FEAR THE SMEAR!
Tania Adib says: “Luckily, many women today are aware of the importance of having regular cervical screening. However, unfortunately there are still women out there who are scared to book in for a smear test and put off going far longer than they should. It’s important to remember that failing to go for a smear test could have a very serious implication and every woman should be actively encouraged to make an appointment as soon as they are invited to do so.
It is recommended that women aged 25 to 49 should go for a smear every 3 years, with those aged 50 to 64 attending every 5 years. For those over 65, we advise testing for anyone who hasn’t been screened since the age of 50, or those who have recently had abnormal tests and need further investigation.”
VAGINAL DRYNESS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERMANENT
Tania Adib says: “Many people are surprised to learn that post-menopausal side effects, caused by a lack of oestrogen, impact at least 50% of the UK female population. Side effects include dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissues - otherwise known as ‘vaginal atrophy’. Vaginal dryness can have severe consequences for a woman’s intimate health and can also take a toll on personal relationships, causing a burning or painful sensation during sexual intercourse, due to a lack of lubrication. Other side effects also include vulvar discomfort, increased sensitivity, and painful urination.
However, treatments like the MonaLisa Touch® provide a long-term solution for women who suffer with vaginal dryness. It is a gentle, innovative treatment that’s used to help restore good vaginal health. It is a non-surgical, hormone free, minimally invasive laser procedure, performed in an outpatient environment, with virtually no pain or side effects. It offers an alternative to prescribed and over the counter creams, and pessaries traditionally offered to women suffering from post-menopausal vaginal dryness. We have seen great success with this treatment to date and have so far experienced a success rate of reducing vaginal dryness by around 90%.”
THE MENOPAUSE IS NOT THE END OF YOUR SEX LIFE
Tania Adib says: “It saddens me that so many women believe the menopause is the end of their sex life! Of course, it can be an incredibly uncomfortable time but that doesn’t mean intimate health and relationships have to suffer as consequence. It’s important for women to remember that any post-menopausal side effects they may be dealing with, which may prevent them from having enjoyable sex, can be treated to allow them to have a normal and healthy sex life. If any women are experiencing any pain or discomfort during intercourse or otherwise, they shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch with a Gynaecologist who can help them get back to life as normal.”
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