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Talking about female reproductive health in India is often hushed owing to the nature of the topic. However, due to its complexity, it’s vital that women take note of the potential symptoms of issues ‘down there’. It goes beyond the physical and includes more emotional and abstract elements too, which makes it a more delicate and complex issue.
According to a study, the best way to move forward with this is to apply management principles to get a medical solution. There are five steps: anticipate, get organised, establish command, ensure coordination and lastly control.
Here’s how you can ward off the risk of gynaecological disorders by taking control of your reproductive health:
The first step deals with how one could anticipate an issue and then accordingly take steps to avoid it. A basic rule is to start following a healthy lifestyle. Issues like PCOD are better managed with lifestyle changes itself. Eating healthier and being more hygienic are central to this. This is because leading an unhygienic lifestyle increases the chances for viral and bacterial infections and obesity increases the risk of reproductive problems.
The way to organise this is to be more consistent. Plan your required screenings and doctor’s visits for enough consultation. A good way to start would be to responsibly educate yourself first. This is more structured and reliable than hearsay. Plan your doctor’s visits accordingly and read relevant resources. Your awareness of what healthy looks like is key to then know what unhealthy is. Common concerns for women include – endometriosis, uterine fibroids, cysts, cancers, STDs, sexual violence, and PCOS.
Command here could be interpreted as assessing your personal goals when it comes to reproductive health and following through on that. To have a better command over the situation, you must first know your risk to detect any reproductive health issues. This includes going to professionals to understand your family and genetic history, do pap tests, and STD tests and do them basis your age and weight categories (for instance, mammography is recommended annually once you turn 40, and breast exams must be done every three years when you are in your 20s all the way till your 40s).
Coordination is more to do with keeping a tab on various aspects of your reproductive health. This means maintaining a check on seven aspects that if you have, may need to be told to your healthcare provider. They include painful menstruation, abnormal vaginal odour, swelling or bumps in the vaginal area, discomfort while having sex (such as dryness, etc.), low libido, any urinary or faecal leakage, and your sexual history.
Control is established while following these guidelines, but this also leaves scope for the big picture. Are your local governing/residential organisations getting involved? If not, push for these ideas; breast awareness week, blood drives, HPV vaccination drives, etc. are all not just good for society, but also act as reminders that women’s health must be frequently checked upon. Start with awareness programs at the school level and at home, and try to create an environment where as children transition to teens and experimental young adults – they feel free to talk to you about such ‘taboo’ topics.
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