Sex after menopause: Keeping the heat after the hot flashes

Menopause is attributed to physical and psychological changes in a woman which may affect her way of life. With the changing hormonal levels where they start to dip, life after menopause can change your experience of having sex, along with the desires for the same. However, there are some ways where you can adapt with the changing body and start to have a safe sexual life.

Quick Fact:

Around half of the menopausal women experience symptoms of pain, vaginal dryness and urinary problems.

How menopause affects your sex life

There are some outside factors of menopause that cause sex less pleasurable to you which affects your sex drive, as:

  • Insomnia: Symptoms of menopause can cause sleep problems which can have effect on your whole body and your sex life.
  • Mental health: Menopause may relate with depression which can affect the desires of a woman.
  • Vaginal changes and discomfort: Vaginal discomfort occurs when there is any sensation of pain or itching in the vagina, and this can reduce the pleasure women experience during sex after menopause, along with causing pain in the process as well.

How to improve sex life after menopause?

While there are some problems associated with sexual life after menopause, there are also some effective ways that can reduce the complications as:

  • Trying to engage in sexual activity, often
  • Application of vaginal lubricant or moisturizer before intercourse
  • Avoiding detergents or soaps that can cause dryness
  • Using lukewarm water and staying hydrated
  • Considering a therapist
  • Managing stress with exercise and relaxation activities
  • Bonding between couples

While these steps can be helpful, there are also some treatments for those who experience frequent and intense complications, as:

  • Using estrogen and progesterone medications to be placed directly on vaginal tissues to reduce dryness
  • Hormone replacement technique reduce vaginal dryness, discomfort and pains during sex.
  • Besides, medications for stress, anxiety or high blood pressure can help in reducing hot flashes and mood changes.

Menopause and sleep related issues- Causes and treatments

While there are many changes that a woman has to cope with during menopause, like sweating, hot flashes, weight gain etc., sleeping problems are other disturbances that makes this period more difficult. Sleep disturbances and poor quality sleep are some changes during menopause that are common.

As in case of menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone in the body decreases, which results in the various symptoms such as hot flashes (a feeling of warmth suddenly over the body) or sweating. Night time hot flashes also tend to awaken you from the sleep which can disturb the sleeping pattern. Besides, mood swings and anxiety also lead to difficulty in getting sleep where it has been proposed that sleep disturbance during menopause can also be attributed to underlying causes of anxiety and depression. Thus, these symptoms generally make it difficult to sleep which can relate with other prominent issues.

Following are some treatment options to address the sleep problems during menopause:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): It involves the replacement of hormones including estrogen or progesterone that are not properly produced during this phase in the body. It is affective against hot flashes that can help in sleeplessness.
  • Low dose selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI): While they may be also used for mental health problems, they are effective in reducing hot flashes as well which can lead to better sleep.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): It can be useful for those who are experiencing mood swings or anxiety issues as it helps to cope with these feelings which can also benefit your sleep.
  • Exercising and yoga: Meditation, exercises along with yoga and massage can also prove beneficial in improving sleep patterns.
  • Healthy eating: Eating nutritious foods along with avoiding foods that can trigger hot flashes can also be helpful in the cause.

How does menopause affect your mental health?

During the menopause, the transition can bring about many changes in the physical and psychological buildup of the body. The symptoms of menopause can affect your mind, especially your mental health.

Quick fact:

The incidence of depression has been seen doubling during the menopause.

Menopause and mental health

During the later stages of life, stress, anxiety and fear are common. The reason for this approach occurs due to the physical changes in the body like decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. The symptoms of this phase concur with hot flashes, sweating and other signs of menopause which may cause disruptions in life. Besides, the emotional reckoning of a woman where she feels that she is growing older or getting isolated makes it worse. Therefore, women are prone to develop anxiety or depression during this phase.

Mental health issues during menopause

Menopause can relate with mood swings whereupon due to low levels of estrogen, a woman can feel irritability, anxiety or depression. In regard to this, your emotions can change and vary very quickly, within minutes. It has been seen that estrogen has mood enhancing effects, where its lower levels can lead to the feelings of depression.

Moreover, sleep disturbance due to the changing estrogen levels can also cause mood changes, along with other symptoms of menopause.

Symptoms of depression

There are some symptoms that may point out towards depression:

  • Anger outbursts
  • Irritability, anxiety, or restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Trouble in decision making or concentration
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Appetite changes

Treatment for symptoms of menopause

There are some possible treatments for symptoms of menopause like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace the estrogen levels or cognitive behavioral therapy. It is always better to consult a specialist if you are going through any mental issue during menopause.

How do you know at what stage of menopause you are in?

Menopause marks the end of menstrual cycle in woman which occurs around the age of 51, even though in some it may happen as they turn 40. While this concurs to the lower levels of hormones, there are menopausal symptoms that point towards its occurrence, like mood swings, hot flashes, sweating, vaginal dryness etc.

Quick fact:

After menopause, women are more likely to have chances of heart disease.

Stages of menopause

The process of menopause in women is a gradual process that occurs in three stages, namely: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause where some may be confused with at what stage they are. This whole transition occurs usually between 45 and 55 years. Every stage is attributed to some specific changes that deters its occurrence, as:

  • Perimenopause: This is phase where you have transition to menopause. The common attributes noticed during this phase are the changes in the length of menstrual cycle for more than 7 days. Besides, many other symptoms like sleep disturbance, headaches, UTIs and fatigue of perimenopause are often confused by women in the beginning. With time, symptoms can become more clear where periods can become irregular along with change in flow.
  • Menopause: When a woman goes for consecutive one year without periods, she has reached the stage of menopause. As soon as you cross this time limit, you reach postmenopause phase.
  • Postmenopause: After not having any period for 12 months, postmenopause stage begins. Some women may stop having some symptoms of menopause, whereas in some, they may continue like hot flashes, vaginal dryness etc. However, with the passage of time the intensity of many symptoms can go away. During this stage, there is an increased risk of developing the following conditions:
    • Osteoporosis
    • Cardiac diseases
    • Depression
    • Changes in vaginal health

10 Tips to manage Hot Flashes at work

You may be into the middle of some business, where suddenly a sensation of heat drives away your concentration, and your heartbeat is faster, your skin becomes flushed along with upper body sweating. This corresponds to the symptoms of hot flashes which is common in women going through menopause.

Quick fact:

Hot flashes usually affect up to 3 quarters of women during menopause and perimenopause.

Productive tips for hot flashes

Here are some simple ways by which you can cool yourself down while being at work:

  1. Drink cold water: You can keep off the heat of hot flashes by drinking cold water. So, you can bring an ice-cold water bottle and place it on the desk where you can regularly sip it. You can use a thermos to keep the water cold for most of the day.
  2. Keeping a small fan: You may consider bringing a small fan at your desk. It will help you to cool down along with circulating the air in the room.
  3. Wearing layers: You can dress in layers so that you can strip down when hot flashes occur.
  4. Avoiding some clothes: It is better to avoid materials like wool and silk as they trap heat and can worsen the situation during hot flashes.
  5. Avoid caffeine: Caffeine can trigger hot flashes, so you should cut back on caffeine to avoid triggers to the symptoms.
  6. Practice deep breathing: Practicing deep breaths can ease hot flashes along with reducing stress.
  7. Minimize stress: Stress can act as a trigger to elevate body temperature where you should lower the stress while you are at work.
  8. Cut back on spices: Spices are common triggers for hot flashes where they should be avoided.
  9. Consuming soy: Soy foods have been related with decreasing hot flashes where you should opt for soy foods each day.
  10. Eat cold foods: Hot soups or drinks can raise your body temperature where salads, cold pasta or any other cold food should be opted instead.

Role Of Laparoscopic Surgery In Gynaecological Cancer Treatment

Author: Dr. Anu Vinod Vij MBBS, PGDHH, FICOG, PGDMLS, MS (OBG)

Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Kharghar, Mumbai

Ovarian Cancer

Today, the ever-changing lifestyle of women have increased their chances of many health diseases, especially cancer. The most common cancer type found in woman’s breast, cervical, lung and gynaecological cancers. Most of the abnormal vaginal discharges, abnormal vaginal bleeding, feeling of bloating, heaviness, loss of appetite, distention of abdomen, however, if ignored, can cause health issues as bad as cancer. Therefore, it is very important to bring it up to the doctor if you notice these symptoms for a prolonged period of time.

It is very important to notice the initial symptoms of cancer and get it cured, since it is in the initial stages of detection and treatment that one can defeat cancer.

Gynaecological Cancer

Gynaecological cancer is very common in women these days, affecting almost 25% of women in India. Gynaecological cancer affects the reproductive system of women. The nature and intensity of cancer depends on the part it is developed in and at what stage it is diagnosed.

Types Of Gynaecological Cancers

There are five types of gynaecological cancers. These are as follows:

  • Cervical cancer: This type of cancer starts in the cervix, also known as the neck of the womb. When there is an abnormal proliferation of cells, cervical cancer occurs.
  • Womb cancer: The womb, also known as the uterus, is a muscular bag that is pear-shaped. Once the fetus is implanted, the role of the uterus is to nurture the implanted fetus. When there is an abnormal division in the lining of the womb, it is termed uterine or endometrial cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer: The development of cancer in the ovary is ovarian cancer. When there is a rapid increase of the cell in an uncontrollable manner in the ovary, it is ovarian cancer.
  • Vaginal cancer: Vaginal cancer is usually a very rare condition. It occurs when the cells in the vagina start to increase rapidly. It is very common to occur in older women.
  • Vulval cancer: Vulval cancer occurs when the cancer cells start to develop in the external female sex organ called the vulva.

Understanding Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is a specialised technique of surgery with minimal invasion of the body. It is done with a specially designed thin, long tube called a laparoscope. It has a very high-resolution camera and high-intensity light.

Once the laparoscope is inserted into the body through a small incision in the abdominal wall, it starts sending images to a video monitor. The surgery is performed with the help of these video images.

Laparoscopic Surgery’s Role In Gynaecological Cancer

Treatment

Laparoscopy surgery is low-risk, has minimal invasion of the body and requires very small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery is a brief surgery and requires only 2-3 days of rest in the hospital. Generally, patients recover from laparoscopic surgery within a week and can resume their daily routine.

Gynaecological cancer treatments now include laparoscopic procedures as well. Generally, the surgery is performed for all small size cervical cancers and ovarian cancers and also for endometrial cancers. Laparoscopic surgery is also performed for borderline and benign tumours.

Laparoscopic Surgery In The Treatment Of Ovarian Cancer

Although ovarian cancer is a scary experience, it can be treated with the laparoscopic treatment in select cases. In cases that are advanced, laparoscopy is required for confirming the diagnosis and to determine receptibility and 2nd look laparoscopy.

Laparoscopic Surgery in the Treatment of Uterine Cancer or Endometrial Cancer

Laparoscopic surgery can treat almost 95% of the uterine cancers with the help of total laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-opherectomy (TLHBSO) and retroperitoneal lymph nodes removal (RPLND).

At Motherhood Hospitals, we have a team of experienced super specialists backed by the latest in infrastructure and facilities. We have the best fetal medicine specialists in Kharghar, Mumbai. We are experts in handling complex deliveries, gynaecological, and other surgeries including a range of laparoscopic surgeries.

Do take an appointment with the best fetal medicine hospital in Kharghar, Mumbai at a centre closest to you. Meet with our doctors who will carry out the required investigations, diagnose the issue and recommend the most appropriate treatment, enabling you to lead an active life.

If you wish to get in touch with Dr. Anu Vinod Vij, please book your appointment here.

Laparoscopy – The Miracle Of Keyhole Surgery And Its Benefits

Best Minimal Access and laparoscopic Surgery

Author: Dr. Beeresh C.S MBBS, MS(OBG), Fellowship in Minimal Invasive Surgery

Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Surgeon at Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari

Best Minimal Access and laparoscopic Surgery

In recent years, Laparoscopy has been widely used as a surgical procedure of choice to address a range of ailments and conditions. The surgery has become widely popular with doctors and patients alike considering the large number of benefits it offers and the faster time to recovery. Let’s look at what exactly this procedure involves and where it can be deployed.

Laparoscopy as a surgery has become widely popular in recent years. It takes a revolutionary approach to conducting the procedure wherein several smaller cuts are made instead of the traditional approach of making one large incision to access the site to be operated. The procedure uses a device called the laparoscope, a narrow tube with a tiny video camera and a bright light at the tip. The doctor inserts this tube through a small cut of width of about 1 cm to take a clear look at the internal organs.

A few more incisions are made in other regions in and around the site through which a few other tools are inserted to perform the surgery. Laparoscopy is also known as ‘minimally invasive’ surgery. This kind of surgery was initially used for gallbladder surgery and a few gynaecological operations but it is widely used now to operate various other organs such as intestines, liver, abdomen and other organs.

Best Laparoscopic Treatment

Benefits of laparoscopic surgeries

  • The patient can get discharged from the hospital quicker
  • There will be less scars post-surgery
  • The patient experiences less discomfort as the scars heal, and they heal quicker
  • The patient can resume normal activities quicker

To elucidate the advantages of laparoscopic surgery, let’s take an example of a typical intestinal procedure.  If a patient stays in the hospital for around a week with a traditional surgery and takes about 4 to 8 weeks to recover, under a laparoscopic surgery, the patient would have to stay for 2 nights in the hospital and the recovery could be as little as 2 – 3 weeks. A shorter hospital stay translates to less cost and the patient can also resume his/ her activities within a shorter time. 

The following surgeries are done using a laparoscopic procedure: 

Hernia Surgery: Hernias occur when an internal organ pushes against a wall of muscle or tissue that it is contained in. Usually hernias occur within the abdomen or between the hips and chest. The common hernias are: 

Inguinal Hernia: The inguinal canal consists of a ligament that supports the womb. With an inguinal hernia the fatty tissue or portion of the intestine pushes into the groin at the upper end of the inner thigh. This type of hernia usually affects women more than men. 

Hiatal (hiatus) Hernia: In this case a portion of the stomach pokes against the chest cavity through a gap in the diaphragm.

Umbilical Hernia: Another very common type of hernia usually occurring in women, in this case the fatty tissue or portion of the intestine pushes out of the abdomen near the navel.

Femoral Hernia: In this case fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine pushes into the groin at the upper end of the inner thigh. This commonly affects older women.

Appendectomy: An appendectomy is the process of surgically removing the appendix. It is a small, tube-shaped sack attached to the large intestine and situated in the lower right side of the abdomen. The functioning of the appendix is not very clear though it is presumed that it may help us to recover from infections of the small and large intestines. Usually, appendectomy is performed as an emergency surgery to address appendicitis, a condition that causes the inflammation of the appendix.

Gallbladder removal: The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ positioned just below the liver on the right side of the abdomen. A cholecystectomy is performed to surgically remove the bladder using a laparoscopic procedure.

Colon Surgery: Laparoscopic procedures are commonly used to treat Fistulas, Haemorrhoids and other colorectal conditions.

Bariatric Surgery: A Bariatric Surgery is performed when diet and exercise do not yield the expected results and the patient is posed with serious health problems due to excessive weight. Some procedures govern and limit the amount of food the patient can consume while some work to reduce the body’s capacity to absorb nutrients.

Anti-reflux Surgery: Anti-reflux surgery, also referred to as Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication is a decisive approach for GERD when regular medication fails to offer relief towards stopping acid reflux into the stomach. Here the upper portion of the stomach is wrapped around the LES to reinforce the sphincter and prevent acid reflux.

At Motherhood Hospitals, we deliver exceptional healthcare services to women and children with highest standard of care and competence.

Book your Appointment with Dr.Beeresh C.S for all the Gynaecological issues.

The dreaded, “M” is here! Fatigue. Hot Flashes. Body Ache.

Best Gynaecologist Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune

Author: Dr. Payal R. Narang MBBS, DGO 

Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune

Best Gynaecologist Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune


As women reach their 40s and move on towards early 40s, most of them realise their levels of activity and energy is not at its peak. Coupled with this would be lack of interest, fatigue, body ache, hair fall and other niggling issues. They tend to feel they don’t have the kind of enthusiasm to do things like they did in the past – work, children, household chores etc. Talk to friends, elders the family doctor, they all have one thing to say, ‘You must be reaching menopause’. Now the questions begin. Will it get worse? What else would I have to endure? How long would it last? How much suffering would I have to bear? And so on…

Let’s dry to decipher the dreaded M that all women have to go through with some suffering and the lucky ones just about scraping through.

Dr. Payal R. Narang, Best GDr. Payal R. Narang, Best Gynaecologist near meynaecologist near me

 

Typically, menopause occurs in three stages – perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Perimenopause is the time before menopause – it is the period when the body is approaching menopause which means the hormones are reducing and the menstrual cycles are becoming irregular. A woman would know she has reached menopause when she has skipped a period for 12 consecutive months.

Once you enter menopause, you could have a slew of symptoms for an average of 4 to 5 years which could usually reduce in intensity over time. There are a few women who could experience a menopause for up to 10 years too. The average age for menopause is 51 though it could vary in case of people from region to region across the world. About 1 percent of the women have a menopause before they are 40 which is referred to as premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency. Early menopause is when women undergo menopause between the ages of 40 and 45. When a lady begins menopause, depends on genetics and the health of her ovaries. Many women begin perimenopause and enter menopause quite quickly.

Symptoms of Menopause

Each woman will have a different menopause experience. Some will have severe symptoms particularly if menopause occurs over a shorter period of time. Factors like health of the ovaries, surgeries like hysterectomy or lifestyle habits like smoking could aggravate the symptoms.

Apart from variations in menstruation, the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause are more or less similar.

These include:

  • Erratic menstruation cycles
  • Variation in the intensity of cycles – heavy or light
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, flushing – referred to as vasomotor symptoms In fact 75% of all women experience hot flashes with menopause

Other symptoms of Menopause are:

  • Insomnia – lack of sleep or disturbed sleep
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Memory recall issues
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Hair loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Soreness of the breasts
  • Racing heart
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Stiff joints
  • Increased hair growth on other areas – neck, face, chest, back etc.

Other Impact could include:

  • Vulvo-vaginal atrophy
  • Pain at the time of intercourse
  • Reduction in the rate of metabolic function
  • Osteoporosis or weakening of bones
  • Heart or blood vessel disease
  • Body weight gain and diabetes

The Reason for Menopause

Menopause is a natural process – the result of the aging of ovaries leading to a drop in the production of reproductive hormones. The body begins to undergo several changes as there is a drop in the levels of Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH).

Among the key changes is the reduction in the number of active ovarian follicles, structures that produce eggs from the wall of the ovary causing menstruation and fertility.

The onset of menopause is heralded when the woman first notices the frequency of her periods dropping in consistency and the flow becomes heavy. This begins to occur in her mid to late 40s and her menopause sets in in her early 50s. A menopause could also be induced due to injury or surgical removal of the ovaries.

Diagnosing Menopause 

You are advised to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned and are 45 years of age or younger. A recently approved blood test named PicoAMH Elisa diagnostic test can determine whether a woman is approaching menopause, or has entered menopause. The doctor may also advise tests to measure the levels of hormones in the blood – FSH which is a kind of estrogen and estradiol.

A menopause is confirmed when FSH blood levels are consistently elevated with levels of above 30 mlU/ mL coupled with no menstruation for one full year. In the case of perimenopause, the levels of FSH and Estrogen vary daily and doctors will diagnose menopause based on the medical history and symptoms. Additional blood tests initiated during menopause include thyroid test, lipid profile, kidney function tests and hCG tests.

Treatment for Menopause

Menopause is addressed by treating specific symptoms such as hair loss, vaginal dryness, excessive hair growth, depression and anxiety, sleep medications for insomnia, antibiotics for recurring UTIs, and calcium supplements to counter osteoporosis. In a few cases the doctor could also recommend hormonal treatment.

Home remedies include comfortable clothing to manage hot flashes, avoiding heavy blankets, using a fan, exercising to reduce weight, stretches to manage muscle aches and controlled food and diet. You could speak to a psychologist or a counsellor if you are feeling depressed or anxious. Also recommended are yoga, meditation and breathing techniques.

At Motherhood Hospitals, we deliver exceptional healthcare services to women and children with highest standard of care and competence.

Book your Appointment with Dr. Payal R. Narang, please here.

Cervical Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Dr Madhushree Vijayakumar, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospital, Hebbal.

1 . What is cervical cancer and what are some of the major causes?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer where cells change in womenŸ??s cervix, which connects their uterus with vagina. Causes of cervical cancer is the beginning of unusual changes in the tissue of the cervix. Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is common and for most people there is less chances of virus developing into cancer. This means other factors Ÿ?? such as your lifestyle choices or environment factorsŸ?? also determine whether you’ll develop cervical cancer.

2 . What are some signs and symptoms of cervical cancer to look out for?

There are no symptoms or sign in early stage cervical cancer but for more advanced level cancer spread it includes signs as:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
  • Bloody or watery vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odour.
  • Pelvic pain or pain during sex

3 . How do the symptoms vary in different stages of cervical cancer?

There are 4 stages to cervical cancer:

  • Stage 0: Precancerous cells are present. At this stage there are none or zero symptoms.
  • Stage 1: In this stage cancer cells have grown from the surface into deeper tissues of the cervix, and possibly into the uterus and to nearby lymph nodes. Symptoms at this stage are less.
  • Stage 2: In this stage cancer has now moved beyond the cervix and uterus, but not as far as the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina. It may or may not affect nearby lymph nodes and have symptoms like pelvic pain during intercourse, vaginal discharge.
  • Stage 3: This is an advanced stage where cancer cells are present in the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis, and it may be blocking the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the bladder. It may or may not affect nearby lymph nodes and may have symptoms like trouble peeing, swollen legs and bone pain among with stage 2 symptoms.
  • Stage 4: This is the last stage where cancer affects the bladder or rectum and is growing out of the pelvis. It may or may not affect the lymph nodes. Later in stage 4, it will spread to distant organs, including the liver, bones, lungs, and lymph nodes. Symptoms spreads to whole body resulting in Weight loss and lack of appetite, fatigue, kidney failure, pelvic pain.

4 . How does cervical cancer affect your body?

Generally cervical cancer does not have an opportunity to affect the rest of the body, mainly because it is often diagnosed in its earliest stages. But if not diagnosed at early stage in can spread to other parts of their body (metastasize), often the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum.

5 . Who is most at risk of developing cervical cancer?

Risk is a factor that increases the chances of getting a disease to a person and for cervical cancer these factors may raise a woman’s risk of developing one.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection- HPV is themost important risk factor, though there are less chances of it developing into cancer but cervical cancer is frequently associated with HPV16, HPV18. People who are infected with high risk of HPV types are people who have sex at an earlier age or have multiple sexual partners.
  • Immune system deficiency- women with low immune systems have higher chances of developing cervical cancer.
  • Herpes and Oral contraceptives- women who have genital herpes and who takes birth control pills, may be associated with an increase in the risk of cervical cancer.
  • Smoking and age- there are more chances for women to develop cervical cancer who smokes twice a daily compared to non-smokers. Women with the age group of above 20 to mid-30Ÿ??s are exposed to this risk more.

6 . Is cervical cancer curable? Can cervical cancer spread quickly?

Cervical cancer is often curable if diagnosed at early stage. For early cervical cancer doctors recommend surgery to remove the cervix and some or all of the womb, or radiotherapy, or a combination of both. For advanced level radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy, and surgery is also sometimes used.

Cervical cancer cells are slow in growth, once cells in the cervix begin to undergo abnormal changes, it can take several years for the cells to grow into invasive cervical cancer. So there are many opportunities for early detection and treatment before the cancer has progressed to later stages.

7 . How do STIs increase your chances of cervical cancer? What is HPV and how does it affect your chances of getting cancer? 

STIŸ??s like HPV increases your chance of cervical cancer. HPV is Human Papillomavirus Infection it is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. ItŸ??s related to a group of 150 viruses.  Low risk HPV causes warts on or around the female and male genital organs and in the anal area. High risk HPV causes cancers, including cancer of the cervix, vulva, and vagina in women, penile cancer in men, and cancers of the anus, mouth, and throat in both men and women. It is a common virus and in most people the body can clear the infection by itself.

8 . What are some preventive measures that can lower your chances of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a slow and deadly disease whose symptoms cannot be predicted at early stages. However some prevention can reduce the risk of cervical cancer such as regular screening or pap smear test to detect and prevent precancers, getting HPV vaccine, delaying first sexual intercourse until late teens or older, limit the number of sex partners and practice safe sex by using condom, avoid sexual intercourse with people who had many sexual partners or are infected with genital warts or show other symptoms, quit smoking.

9 . What are the different treatment options for cervical cancer? How long can each one last?

Cervical cancer if detected at earliest stage can be cured if not then various treatments are prescribed by the doctors for different stages such as surgery if cancer cells has not spread from the cervix, this is the most common treatment. Radiation therapy if doctors feel the cancer cells are present inside the body. In advanced stages radiation and chemotherapy is recommended. In later stages palliative therapy is provided to relieve symptoms and improve the patientŸ??s quality of life and living.

Treatment for cervical cancer is a long process and takes a plenty amount of time of years.

10 . How long does it take to recover from cervical cancer treatments?

After the treatment it takes about 8 weeks for side effects to resolve although in some cases it can be permanent. ThereŸ??s also a possibility that side effects can occur after years or months of treatment.

Pap smear tests: At what age and how often

By Dr Manisha Tomar, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospital, Noida

Being the second most common cancer in women between the age group of 15 and 44 years of age, the awareness towards cervical cancer and its screening are miniscule in our country. Cervical cancer is a completely preventable disease because of its well defined, long pre-malignant phase and it can be detected easily by regular screening tests and follow up. Unfortunately, the females in India are unaware about the screening process for the cervical cancer care. With the vaccination, screening and treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently aimed to reduce more than 40% of new cases and 5 million related deaths of cervical cancer by 2050.

WhatŸ??s Pap smear test?

ItŸ??s crucial that we should also learn about Pap smear test. ItŸ??s a screening test used to detect potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes in the endocervical canal. The doctor takes out a cluster of cells from a personŸ??s cervix using a spatula-like instrument to look for changes in the cervixŸ??s cells. A pap smear helps in diagnosing cellular changes resulting from cancer, precancer, human papillomavirus (HPV), inflammation, or an infection.

At what age one can go for Pap smear?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend, all women who fall between the age group of 21 and 65 years should get their Pap smears tests at regular interval. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that girls below 21-year-old should be refrained from pap smears. At the same time, they also suggest that women over 65-year-old shouldnŸ??t get a Pap smear except under certain circumstances, such as abnormal results or increased risk factors for cancer.

However, both menopausal and postmenopausal, should continue to have Pap or HPV tests. Women who have had a total hysterectomy for a noncancerous condition and have not had a previous history of precancerous Pap tests may be able to stop Pap screening depending on their medical history and risk of contracting human papilloma virus (HPV).

One should not forget that testing is the best tool to detect pre-cancerous conditions that may lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can be cured if detected on time.

How often one should go for Pap smear based on age?

Here are the following recommended testing schedules based on a personŸ??s age:

  • From 21Ÿ??29 years

The ideal age for having Pap smear is 21-year-old. If the result is negative then the next test would be done after the gap of three years.

  • From 30Ÿ??65 years

In this age, the person can either have a Pap test, or a combined Pap and HPV test after consulting with the doctor. In case of single Pap test, then the doctor would ask to come after three years if the tests are normal. When the person opt for the combined test, and both results are normal, the doctor would ask to wait for 5 years for the next screening test.

If a person is having her periods at the time of their scheduled appointment, they should check with their clinician whether they should go ahead with the test. In most of the cases, the test happens if youŸ??re menstruating.

 Doctors can suggest a person to avoid only the following before a Pap smear:

  • Having sex
  • Douching the vagina
  • Using tampons or vaginal lubrication
  • Vaginal creams, suppositories, or medications
  • Using birth control foam, cream, or jelly