Pelvic Health: What You Need To Know
There are two main areas of pelvic health we need to be aware of: pelvic floor health and infections.
Pelvic floor (PF) problems are indicated by vaginal pain, abdominal pain or lower-back pain. Briony Devonald is a pelvic floor physiotherapist at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. “There are many women who are incontinent, have sexual problems or a prolapse. Most issues can be resolved in a few PF physiotherapy sessions, preventing unnecessary invasive procedures,” she says.
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia present with discharge, spotting or burning, and can be symptomless. If left untreated, they can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Abdominal and vaginal pain are the main signs of PID. “If you seek help early, you can prevent scarring from PID, which puts you at risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancies and painful sex,” explains Dr Daphne Lyell, an integrative GP based in Woodstock, Cape Town. These diseases can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
Syphilis, on the other hand, is a serious bacterial infection. If left untreated, it can be fatal. The first sign is a small, painless sore at the site of the infection. It can be treated easily with antibiotics.
Trichomoniasis (trich) and bacterial vaginosis (BV) present with a pungent milky discharge, and vaginal burning or itching. And thrush is a yeast infection. Using a probiotic suppository of lactobacillus crispatus for BV, trich or thrush is highly effective. “For these disorders, you also need to look at the bacterial imbalance in the gut,” suggests Lyell. Click here to find out how often you should do a pelvic exam.
Genital herpes is a highly contagious virus that resides in the nerves, causing painful, blister- like lesions. Condoms don’t protect against herpes.
HPV (human papilloma virus) can cause genital warts and, on rare occasions, can trigger cervical cancer cases. Precancerous or cancerous cells can be eradicated with cryotherapy.
A woman’s body is full of complexities. Taking time for a little self-care makes a tremendous difference in preventing unnecessary damage or pain further down the line.
Click here to find out what you can do for some personal rejuvenation and treat different pelvic problems.