Prevention is better than cure – that’s why it’s ever so important to go for regular health checkups and screenings especially if your family has a history of medical issues and concerns. Here are five common health concerns faced by women – maybe it’s time for you to book an appointment?
#1 Vaginal laxity
We speak to Dr Sylvia Ramirez from Cutis Medical Laser Clinics on a topic that many women avoid discussing, even with best friends.
What is vaginal laxity?
Just like skin, vaginal tissue is made up of collagen fibres. During vaginal childbirth or sexual activity, these tissues can overstretch, loosen and weaken over time, especially within the vaginal opening. Many women who suffer from laxity around and on their labia minora and labia majora (the inner and outer vaginal tissues) often experience a feeling of “looseness”, reduced sexual satisfaction and less sensation during intercourse.
What are the treatments available?
Geneveve by Viveve and BTL Exilis Elite are two clinically-proven treatments that tighten the vaginal tissues and improve sexual sensation without surgery or downtime.
Geneveve uses dual-mode monopolar RF with cryogen cooling to protect the surface while stimulating collagen production in the inner vaginal tissue. Exilis Elite, on the other hand, uses focused thermal RF energy to promote natural healing and the production of new collagen fibres in the outer vaginal tissue.
#2 Breast cancer
We speak to Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone from The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre, a clinic of Singapore Medical Group (SMG), on the importance of mammograms.
When should I start getting mammograms?
Many women are confused about when to start mammograms and how often to get them done. When breast cancers are detected early, they are usually easier to treat, may need less treatment, and are more likely to be cured. My personal recommendation is to start early and get a mammogram at 40 years of age, and, if normal, twice yearly till 45 years and then yearly thereafter.
If you have any suspicion around the results or if you have dense breasts (more common if you’re under 45 years old), you may also be asked to do an ultrasound of the breasts for a clearer picture. It’s important to note that if you have a close first-degree relative who had breast cancer at a younger age, you should start scanning at an earlier age as well.”
#3 Cervical cancer
We speak to Dr Nandini Shah from International Medical Clinic (IMC) on the importance of Pap smears.
What is a Pap Smear?
Also known as a cervical smear, a Pap smear test is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix to prevent cervical cancer.
How often should I get one?
It’s advised for women aged 21 years and above, and every two years.
What happens during a Pap smear?
The doctor will insert an instrument called a speculum into the vagina. The speculum holds the walls of the vagina apart and allows a clear view of the cervix. Once the speculum is in place, a spatula or brush is inserted through it to take a swab from the cervix. This may feel a little strange, but it shouldn’t be painful, and it only takes a minute or two. Once the doctor or nurse has taken some cells for examination, they will remove the speculum and you will be able to get dressed.
We speak to Dr Maria Tang from Complete Healthcare International on the importance of getting checked for osteoporosis.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes thinning and weakening of bones, which makes them more prone to fractures. The fractures typically occur in the hip, spine and wrist. There are no obvious signs of osteoporosis until you fracture a bone. Bone mineral density screening tests (BMDs) can identify problems early on, allowing early treatment in patients and preventing further bone loss.
Who should get checked for osteoporosis?
All women above 50 years old with any fractures should get a bone mineral density scan. Also, women under 65 years old with risk factors for osteoporosis should also undergo screening; these risk factors include having a poor diet, being underweight, smoking, having a history of eating disorder, and having a family history of osteoporosis.
#5 Sexually transmitted diseases
We speak to Dr Kelly Loi of Health & Fertility Centre for Women on the importance on getting checked for sexually transmitted diseases.
What are the popular screenings at the clinic?
Pre-pregnancy and fertility health checks. These can help couples to be more prepared by ensuring that they are in the best health before pregnancy. Other tests include a pelvic exam and ultrasound. Apart from detecting infections and sexually transmitted diseases, they also detect any problems with the uterus and ovaries, such as fibroids or cysts. A series of blood tests is also performed, to flag diseases such as hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis. If they are present, effective pre- and post-natal intervention can be offered to decrease the risk of mother-to-child transmission. A rubella screening or vaccination also forms part of the process to prevent the risk of contracting congenital rubella during pregnancy, which can cause birth defects such as deafness and blindness.