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Wed, 3rd September 2014
 

Today it's for the ladies. Yes topics that some face regularly. Guys may read it too, in fact it may develop some chauvinistic empathy. I hope so. It also answers the common questions. Like, when can a girl fall pregnant? As soon as periods start, as this indicates ovulation. It may be anywhere from 11-15 years onwards. That's when special precautions are needed if playing around.

The Pill

When should the pill (or other contraceptive) be started? At the beginning of sexual activity, and continued until the menopause or sexual inactivity - mid forties on. How often is a smear test required? At the start of sexual activity, or around 20 and if clear each two or three years (some doctors say annually). What about heavy bleeding? Evaluation is needed, there are many causes from hormonal to growths, many (fortunately) non cancerous ones such as polyps and fibroids. Pelvic checks and ultrasound and intervention fix most. Irregular bleeding, prolonged and inter-menstrual also needs checking.

Pain

Pain with periods is common, reduces after childbirth, but if severe a few days after could be endometriosis which can be treated. Any bleeding after the menopause, or irregular bleeding around that age must be evaluated carefully, for cancer risks start then and escalate. Although smear tests help, they only check the cervix, not the inside part or ovaries, where symptoms maybe minimum but dangerous. Today we have the gear to investigate and intervene promptly.

Irritation

Irritation (outside and inside) must be checked, for many infections can occur, most of which are treatable and fixable. Unprotected sexual activity and multiple partners can lead to many issues and hidden risks. One stable partner is preferable. HIV, Hepatitis B and Wart (HPV) virus are preventable. Pre-menstrual tension (irritation a week before periods) is due to hormonal changes, often relieved by simple measures, but see the doctor. Period pain responds well to aspirin products and the NSAIDS (but take these minimally as they cause gastric irritation). Sexual feeling waxes and wanes, but usually peaks 14 days before the start of the next period, when of course pregnancy risk is maximum. Seek pelvic and breast evaluation regularly, with a mammogram annually if over 50 (some say 40).

 
CHEWING GUM

Q: 

Is there any value in chewing gum?

A: 

Chewing gum increases salivary flow which helps cleanse the mouth, teeth and gums. Ideally go for non-sweetened varieties, otherwise sticky stuff may accumulate around the base of the teeth allowing germs to accumulate. Rinsing the mouth with water after food is a good idea also. Clean and floss teeth at least morning and night. Munching an apple has a similar positive effect. Some suffer from a dry mouth, and this is a simple intervention. Please dispose of the chewed product thoughtfully Do not stick it under seats or tables at cafes and theatres, for some unfortunately will invariably cop a fingerful.

 
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UPBRINGING TURNOFF

Q: 

I have undergone a very strict Mediterranean type upbringing, with a lot of parental control and input. This had the bizarre effect on a normal sex life, with the ever present image of confronting parents, and in fact has destroyed it totally. I am not sure what the next move should be. My guy is not amused, but we thought everything would settle down. It has not.

A: 

This was common some years ago, and disastrous in the Victorian years. Current trends and mores have changed. Get along to your doctor to make sure there is nothing wrong in the pelvis. Then seek referral to a competent sex counselor. There are many in every capital city. Often this consists of a team effort, with various specialties becoming involved. Outcomes are often very positive.

 
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FISH OIL CAPSULES

Q: 

I do not eat much fish, and we continually hear of the benefits of fish oil capsules.

A: 

Omega-3 fatty acids, present in most fish, is also available in fish oil capsules. However, my cardiologist says that about six capsules of 1000 mg are needed to be of much value. This is certainly a lot, and many find it leads to bloating and abdominal discomfort. A fairly modest fish meal two or three times a week is adequate. Tinned salmon and other fish is fine. Besides the benefit to the heart and vessels, it is also claimed to help those with arthritis and asthma.

 
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LIPSTICK

Q: 

Is it OK to continue to use lipstick or could the chemicals increase risks of skin cancer?

A: 

Lipstick often contains a moisturiser as well as skin UV protective factors to keep them moist and guard against cancer. Risks of other chemical ingredients having an adverse outcome are unlikely.

 
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WEIGH DAILY

Q: 

I am a weight freak, and like to jump onto the scales each day to check weight, but my friends say this is maniacal, unnecessary, and I could become phobic.

A: 

I weigh every morning, and find it fun and rewarding. Certainly the weight varies daily, largely depending on how much fluid is present. Others say weigh weekly, or monthly. It depends on what gives you a kick. You will not become phobic, unless becoming ultra mean and lean begins to take over, and starvation and purge vomiting commence. Heaps write down their weight in a diary, along with waist measurement the latter now being considered the most important figure. Ideally 93 cm and less for men, and 80 cm or less for women is the recommendation.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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