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5 health screenings worth doing


After acquiring Astra Women’s Specialist group of obstetrics and gynaecology clinics earlier this year, specialist healthcare services provider Singapore Medical Group (SMG) has become the largest private specialist practitioner in Singapore dedicated to women’s health and wellness. Here are four reasons to visit the brand new SMG Women’s Health and 5 health tests you should do regularly.

#1. Island-wide locations

SMG Women’s Health has 11 obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) clinics island-wide – including locations at Paragon Medical in Orchard, Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Gleneagles Hospital, Bishan, Hougang, Jurong, Redhill and Toa Payoh. It’s therefore easier than ever to visit a dedicated women’s health specialist.

#2. Multiple doctors on duty

With a total of 10 O&G doctors now on board, SMG Women’s Health has been able to expand its previous services. It now offers a wide array of gynaecological services, from treating period pain, infections, fibroids and ovarian cysts to doing Pap smears, HPV vaccinations, ultrasounds, cancer screenings and mammograms, along with menstrual disorder management, osteoporosis and menopause management, and gynaecological surgeries such as hysterectomies, myomectomies, cystectomies and pelvic floor repair. There are obstetric services, too, including prenatal care and counselling, pregnancy support, childbirth and postpartum care.

#3. Infertility specialists

Five of the practice’s O&G doctors specialise in fertility, working with their patients to diagnose and treat fertility issues according to each individual situation. Diagnosis methods include gynaecological ultrasounds, hormonal tests and semen analysis. Depending on the cause, infertility treatment can include anything from simple advice on the timing of intercourse, to the use of fertility drugs with timed intercourse, to assisted conception methods such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In addition, necessary surgeries might include removing cysts or fibroids, or unblocking the fallopian tubes.

SMG Women’s Health

# 4. Age management

In accordance with the group’s holistic approach, age management specialist Dr Julinda Lee offers age management medicine. This includes an examination of the changes that result from ageing and the steps that can be taken to slow those changes or even, in some cases, reverse them. This form of preventative medicine includes health screenings, hormonal therapy, perimenopause and menopause management, nutritional therapy and functional medicine, all aimed at improving and delaying symptoms of ageing such as fatigue, sleep disorders, weight gain and memory loss. Through nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle modification and, in certain cases, bioidentical hormone therapy and medication, Dr Lee can help you achieve vitality and avoid disease.

Five Important Screenings for Women

SMG Women’s Health obstetrican and gynaecologist Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone shares five key health tests every woman should consider and when.

#1 Breast self-examination

“All women should perform a self-exam once a month, a few days after their menstrual period ends. If you no longer have menses, I advise patients to perform the exam on the same day of each month, such as the first day of the month. Anything unusual should be reported to your ObGyn or GP and followed up as necessary.”

SMG Women’s Health

#2 Mammogram

While the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 45, the UK-based NHS Breast Screening Programme recommends that women between 50 and 70 screen every three years. Dr Dharshini recommends starting early, getting a mammogram at age 40 and, if the test is normal, continuing bi-yearly until 45, and then yearly thereafter. Women with a family history of breast cancer, though, may be encouraged to test from an earlier age or more frequently.

#3 Bone mineral density (BMD) test

“How frequently you should have a BMD depends on a number of factors such as your age, your previous BMD results and if you are already taking medication for osteoporosis. Many doctors advise testing every two to three years but, if your bones are in good shape, your doctor may extend the time between tests,” says Dr Dharshini, who recommends doing the BMD once at the beginning of menopause to assess one’s baseline. “Depending on what is found, it can be repeated 15 years later for a lowrisk, healthy patient, repeated yearly for high-risk patients, or every three years for moderate-risk patients.” She adds, “When low bone density is identified early through screening, lifestyle changes and therapies can help protect bone health and reduce the risk of fractures.”

#4 Pap smear

This screening checks for precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. “Cervical cancer is highly preventable and curable when detected and treated early through regular screening. And, with the introduction of the HPV vaccine, things have only gotten better. The pap smear test is the best screening tool available smgwomenshealth.sg for the early detection of cervical cancer,” says Dr Dharshini. “Pap screen testing should begin at age 21 for sexually active women, and routine screening is recommended every three years for women aged 21 to 65.”

#5 HPV screening

Screening for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer, can be done at the same time as a pap smear. “We can now test for the high-risk HPV types that are most likely to cause cervical cancer by looking for pieces of their DNA within the cervical cells,” says Dr Dharshini. “I usually do it for patients with high-risk issues or those with previous abnormal pap smear results. Following the results, I may recommend them to undergo a colposcopy procedure to assess the cervix more closely.” It’s advised to check with your doctor regarding the frequency of each test, according your own health profile.

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This article first appeared in the August 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!