Health is deeply personal and dependent on factors including our daily lifestyles and family history. Even so, there are certain common conditions that we may be more concerned about than others.
As part of advancing the conversation on women’s health in Singapore, we teamed up with our friends at Bayer to launch a women’s health survey. Based on more than a thousand responses, these are the top five health concerns that women in Singapore have.
Find out more about these common women’s health issues: the signs and symptoms, and when you should seek medical advice.
Gynaecological cancer refers to cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs.
In Singapore, the most common types of gynaecological cancer are: uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer. The risk for such cancers increases as you age. However, with early detection (such as by going for regular, routine screening) gynaecological cancers can be effectively treated.
Symptoms: The signs and symptoms differ across the types of cancer.
- Irregular and abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge, especially if it occurs after menopause
- Abnormal bloating
- Pain or pressure in your pelvis
- Unexplained changes in your bowel movements or pain when you use the toilet
- Feeling full quickly when you’re eating and indigestion
- Abnormal bloating
- Pain or pressure in your pelvis
- Unexplained changes in your bowel movements such as constipation or an increased frequency to pee
Cervical cancer may not show symptoms until the condition worsens. The best way to detect early stages of cervical cancer is by going for a pap test or HPV test routinely. You may also look out for:
- Abnormal bleeding, such as heavier periods or after menopause, and changes to your vaginal discharge
- Pain during sex
- Discomfort or pain in your lower back, pelvis or lower tummy
You may also decrease your risk of cervical cancer by getting your HPV vaccination. The vaccination is most effective if done before your first exposure to sexual activity; nevertheless, it’s good to get vaccinated if you’re a woman, aged between 9 – 26 years old.
When you should seek help: If you are experiencing these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, you should consult a doctor. For those who are at higher risk of developing these cancers, your doctor may also recommend that you get screened regularly, to ensure you can catch these conditions early for effective treatment.
‘That time of the month’ can be an inconvenience for anyone; and may be a source of worry, if there’s anything out of the ordinary. Some of these issues may hint at a more serious health condition, such as endometriosis.
Common concerns around menstruation:
- Painful menses
- Abnormal vaginal discharges
- Inconsistent menstrual cycles
- Longer or heavier periods
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
When you should seek help: If you find that these menstrual issues are affecting your daily life and impeding you from normal activity, you should seek medical advice, as soon as possible. Your doctor may be able to help diagnose any larger underlying health conditions, as well as prescribe you with treatment that can help you with managing these menstrual issues.
Menopause refers to the permanent ending of one’s menstrual cycle. For women in Singapore, this typically happens around the age of 50; and is a natural part of ageing. You may notice changes in your body and menstrual cycle, as early as 10 years before menopause occurs.
Symptoms: These symptoms may occur before, after and during menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Hair thinning and dry skin
- Changes in your sleep and mood
- Weight gain and slower metabolism
- Vaginal dryness
When you should seek help: It’s common to experience a combination of the above symptoms when you’re going menopause. However, if you find that they seem to be interfering with your daily life, you can consult a doctor for treatment options to help with managing your symptoms.
Additionally, if you start to bleed again, even after menopause, you should let the doctor know and get their advice on whether you’d require further examination.
Infertility is defined by an inability for a couple to conceive after trying for 12 months. According to studies, about 15% of couples in Singapore have issues with fertility; and within this, it was observed that about 39% of these numbers are due to female infertility.
Causes: Infertility within women is typically due to a few common factors:
- Ovulation problems
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Problems with the fallopian tubes or uterus
These issues may reduce the chances of an egg being fertilised, or a fertilised egg getting implanted in the uterus.
When you should seek help: You should see a doctor if you’ve been trying to conceive for a year but have been unable to. Your doctor may do a pelvic examination or ask for an ultrasound to check for possible abnormalities that may be reducing your chances of pregnancy.
Side effects of birth control
Birth control has many benefits, including preventing unwanted pregnancies that you may not be ready for. However, some ladies may experience side effects when they first begin on birth control. These side effects tend to be mild and should subside after a few months, once your body gets used to being on birth control.
Common side effects of birth control include:
- Tenderness around your breasts
- Headaches and dizziness
- Mood changes
- Some weight gain
When you should seek help: You can speak to your doctor about changing the type or brand of your birth control, if you are bothered by the side effects. Do also consult a doctor if you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, severe abdominal or leg pain, or fainting spells and persistent dizziness.
Have questions about your health? There’s no such thing as an embarrassing question, not when it comes to supporting you to stay healthy and well.
Our women’s health doctors are ready to help you, anytime you need. Speak to a GP on the DA app 24/7, with medication delivered to your doorstep in hours.