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Reproductive health facts you may not know

Reproductive health facts you may not know

Making healthy dietary and lifestyle choices can make a big difference to your reproductive health, which is a rather complex and delicate system in the body. This is true for both men and women.

The reproductive system needs extra care and protection from injury and infections. Thus much of women’s health information is concerned with the prevention, central of which is going for routine gynaecological examinations, tests and screenings. 

These preventative measures are all about encouraging women to take control of their health, mentally, physically and psychologically, whether they are pregnant, breastfeeding or not. 

What ails women?

There are common health issues that affect women’s reproductive health. And with growing stress levels and resultant lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, reproductive health is compromised.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are the most prevalent reproductive health conditions:

  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a tissue that lines the uterus. The problem occurs when the lining grows elsewhere, such as on the ovaries, behind the uterus, bowels, or the bladder. This results in very heavy periods, infertility, and pain in the abdomen, lower back, or pelvic area. Sometimes the condition is asymptomatic and only detected when a woman has difficulty falling pregnant. 
  • Uterine Fibroids: Women of childbearing age develop these non-cancerous tumours that consist of muscle cells and other tissues that usually grow in the vicinity of the uterine wall or womb. Overweight women are usually at risk for this condition which researchers have yet to unravel. Some women are asymptomatic. Others are plagued by: heavy or painful periods, bleeding between periods, and a bloated feeling in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms include frequent urinating, post-sex pain, lower back pain, reproductive problems such as infertility, multiple miscarriages or early labour.

Cancer

  • Gynecologic cancers: These are usually located below the stomach and between the hip bones. The caners are Cervical cancer which is in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus; Ovarian cancer which in the ovaries on either side of the uterus; Uterine cancer which is cancer of the womb; Vaginal cancer at the base of the uterus and finally Vulvar cancer which affects the vulva, the outer part of the woman’s genital organs.
  • Interstitial Cystitis is a chronic bladder condition that causes recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder or surrounding pelvic area. Most sufferers are women who have inflamed or irritated bladder walls that cause scarring and rigidity of the bladder. The symptoms are mild discomfort in the abdomen and pelvis, frequent urination, the urgency to urinate; the sense of pressure on the abdomen or pelvis; tenderness; intense pain in the bladder or pelvis and severe lower abdominal pain when the bladder fills or releases urine. 
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) occurs when the adrenal glands or the ovaries produce more male hormones. Cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, grow on the ovaries. Obesity is once more a contributory factor to PCOS in some women, increasing the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. The symptoms include infertility; pelvic pain; hair growth on the face, stomach, thumbs or toes; baldness or thinning hair; acne, oily skin or dandruff and patches of thick dark brown or black skin.  

Getting treatment

As a result of dysfunctional sexual or reproductive health, many women suffer from severe depression and other mental issues. Choosing to get counselling is a vital step to taking control of all aspects of their health. 

Too many women suffer the stigma of sexually transmissible infections, and blood-borne viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), continue to impact the health and wellbeing of women. HIV severely compromises the immune system. 

Pregnant women with HIV are carefully monitored at community health facilities. They receive anti-viral drugs to prevent mother to child HIV transmission. These trials are wildly successful.

There are 20 different types of STDs. Bacteria or parasites cause them. Treat with antibiotics and other medicines, says Embry Women’s Health. 

How do I know if the doctor I need is on the Network?

Need a doctor to guide your journey towards good reproductive health?

Affinity Health has made it very easy for you to check whether or not your desired physician is covered. 

Finding your nearest GP is as easy as going to Affinity Health’s website and clicking on the Find a Doctor tab. You should find this tab under client resources. Then, type in your city or town. 

And just like that, you will have access to a full list of doctors listing their names, addresses and contact details. 

Affinity Health members can contact us on 0861 11 00 33 to consult with an Affinity Health primary healthcare consultant, who will assess your symptoms and give you medical advice before issuing you with a script for medication or referring you to consult with an Affinity Health network GP.

Network doctors claim directly from Affinity Health. However, additional administration fees may be charged separately by the practice and cannot be recovered from Affinity Health. These will be solely at members’ expense.

 

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