New year, better woman

All Woman

BUJU returned home. Ding Dong ensured the entire party was doing the “flairy” and reminded us who is a Cha Cha Bwoy. Vybz Kartel just touched down like NASA. Shensea converted all the youth to ShengYengs. No more black scandal bags? What are we going to do in 2019?

Christmas and the New Year festivities were good — ladies were out in the thousands, dressed to impress and to celebrate life and the season. We all work hard, so why not?

As I enjoyed the festivities, being a woman's health care provider I couldn't help but think that as beautiful and content as these ladies looked while they danced and mingled, how many of them were taking full control of their gynaecological health? With over 150 certified OBGyns in the island and access to free health care, there is no excuse why Jamaican women should not be on top of their gynaecological health. This year should be the year for women to achieve this if they haven't as yet, and I am here to guide them.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Cervical cancer is the number one gynaecological cancer that kills our women locally and it is preventable! It is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is sexually transmitted and usually has no symptoms. Routine Pap smears every two to three years from age 21 years until 44 years and every four to five years from 45 years until 65 years is the international recommendation. Pap smears combined with HPV DNA testing of the cervix increases the likelihood of detecting precancerous changes of the cervix and thus treatment can be done to prevent the progression to cancer.

There has been a lot of negativity associated with the HPV vaccine but I am here to reassure that the vaccine is safe and is recommended to women and men up to the age of 45. Remember your children — male and female — can get the vaccine from as early as 12/13 years of age. So let 2019 be the year of Paps and vaccines. Prevention is better than cure. The vaccine also helps to prevent anal, vulval and penile cancer — all caused by HPV.

Just as HPV has no symptoms, so do many other sexually transmitted infections. I personally see at least three patients per week who are positive for a sexually transmitted infection. In 2019 and beyond, get screened yearly with blood and urine testing for active/inactive sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, practise safe sex with the use of a condom to prevent transfer.

Unwanted and unplanned pregnancies in 2019 should be a thing of the past with all the different contraceptive options available. The list of options are extensive. Visit your OBGyn to help you choose which one is perfect for you.

Also, exercise, exercise, exercise. In 2019 fitness should be the new cool. Exercise at least half an hour per day. Combine this with a balanced diet and adequate hydration and your body will thank you in the New Year. Remember, a healthy body boosts the immune system which helps to fight underlying infections including HPV.

The typical “Jamaican” action when there is a physical problem is to “watch” to see if it gets better. I am pleading with our women — don't “watch”, but ACT. If you have any abnormal symptoms — heavy, painful and abnormal vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, abdominal distension, genital lumps or bumps and vaginal discharge — act quickly and visit your gynaecologist. This could be a sign of something possibly more sinister.

Last but not least, visit your gynaecologist once a year — a well woman visit — to ensure all is well.

We can't do much about the plastic bag situation, but you can do something in making yourself a better woman. Let 2019 be the year of the flair.

Dr Daryl Daley is a cosmetic gynaecologist and consultant OBGYN at Gynae Associates, 23 Tangerine Place, Kingston 10, and shops 46-50, Portmore Town Centre. He can be reached at 876-929-5038/9, 876-939-2859, 876- 799-0588 or drdaryldaley@gmail.com.

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