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My infertility story is one of the most common ones. From the age of 15 every month I had horrible pain; doctor’s advice to...

Female Health

Female health is a very fragile system that requires special attention. Even if there are virtually no health problems, patients should visit a doctor no less than once a year. The manager of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at GMS Clinic, Tatiana Ivanovna Leites, gave FashionTime some basic information about the female reproductive system and explained why it is so important to see a medical expert before a problem arises.

Female Health

— How often is a gynecologist visit necessary to identify potential problems?

— If everything is okay, 2 visits per year to your gynecologist are enough. If you do have any problems, delaying an appointment would be unwise.


— Do strong menstrual pains indicate that I have a disorder?

— Not always. Strong menstrual pains mean that you’ve ovulated. However, it could be something to talk to your gynecologist about on the phone. Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps) may be a symptom of endometriosis. Starting treatment for endometriosis will minimize pain or eradicate it completely.


— Are there any ways to reduce the menstrual pain besides using strong painkillers?

— Pregnancy and labor are the physiological ways to reduce painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Usually cramps go away after having a baby. One pharmaceutical method involves taking NSAIDs. Taking oral contraceptives consistently also significantly reduces severe menstrual pain.


— Can patients buy these medications independently or it is better to consult a doctor first?

— A correct diagnosis is paramount, then proper therapy. People around the world typically consult a doctor first and only take medication when it is prescribed to them.


— What other problems are related to irregular menstrual cycles?

— A regular menstrual cycle is said to be a sign of complete female reproductive health and that ovulation is happening every month. Congruently, an irregular cycle, especially late periods, usually means that ovulation isn’t taking place every month for some reason. This usually points to an ovulatory dysfunction, pituitary gland disorders, inflammation, or extragenital diseases. Since irregular periods can be an early sign of these problems, it is a good idea to visit a gynecologist.


— How dangerous are endocrine disorders and how safe are treatment methods?

— Endocrine disorders must be diagnosed properly and as early as possible; there are already many types of treatments available. Without treatment, the problem can worsen and grow to affect other internal organs and systems. In such cases, treatment can include not only medication, but also surgery.


— Many claim that hormonal contraceptives are bad for your health: they can lead to heart attacks, weight problems, etc. Tell us how to choose the right medication.

— Hormonal medications, specifically modern contraceptives, are a big achievement of pharmacological science because they contain the smallest possible doze of hormones that affect the body only when necessary. When patients stop taking them, the effect stops. Of course, it is possible to develop thromboembolic complications, so consult your doctor before taking any medication.


Many women intentionally delay or speed up menstruation 


— Many women intentionally delay or speed up menstruation, for example, when they go on holiday. How much does it harm your health?

— Generally speaking, if pills are used to achieve this effect, it is not harmful. Still, they shouldn’t be abused. In the USA, seasonal oral contraceptives appeared quite a long time ago when pills would only be taken once in autumn, winter, spring and summer. With this method, a woman could regulate the frequency of her menstruation cycle over the course of a year. Although seasonal contraceptives can be used this way, not all the types of contraceptives will work identically.


— What do you think of personal hygiene products such as pads and tampons? Can they lead to diseases or complications?

— They are good if you use them in the right way. Tampons should be changed every 4 hours and should never be forgotten. It’s also important to make sure you aren’t allergic to the product.


— Are there any ways to stop PMS?

— There are many recommendations but no cure.


— Are there any over-the-counter suppositories or pills that can prevent various gynecological problems?

— There’s quite a wide range of medications on the market that prevent gynecological problems, but you should only use them when recommended by a doctor.


— What’s the proper course of action if a woman finds out that she’s pregnant?

— If a woman’s period is late, she should take a pregnancy test before doing anything else. This is a rule for everyone. If the pregnancy is planned, visit a gynecologist in the 6th or 7th week of pregnancy. That is when we can see the embryo and hear its heartbeat in the uterus via ultrasound. Future visits depend on how far along you are in the pregnancy in addition to recommendations from your gynecologist.


— Many couples are desperate to have baby naturally yet turn to IVF. What are the signs that this method is for you?

— Infertility is a condition in which a young healthy couple tries, albeit unsuccessfully, to conceive over the course of a year. In this case, both partners need to be medically examined. An examination can uncover concrete causes, thus starting the process of finding a solution. If an irregular menstrual cycle or anovulation is the problem, medication is a potential solution. This treatment method is called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. Artificial insemination including sperm sorting for quality and concentration would be necessary if the male partner has inferior sperm quality.


If the cause of infertility is more serious (for example, a tubal obstruction or poor sperm quality), then in vitro fertilization will be the only way to get pregnant. In my opinion, IVF shows just how much progress has been made in the field of medicine.


— If a couple has conceived a baby using IVF, can they have another one without external help in future?

— It depends on the cause of infertility. If the woman has a tubal obstruction, IVF would be necessary again. Sometimes after an IVF cycle, a woman gets pregnant by herself. This is a rare but well-known phenomenon. This «miracle» typically happens in couples with so-called «unexplained infertility» meaning that there is no clear cause.


Author: Alexandra Samoilenko


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