FGM is a practice in certain countries when parts of the female genitals are removed for cultural / traditional reasons usually during childhood. This can happen anytime from infancy to puberty and sometimes even later.
The reasons are many. There are sociocultural factors, and many times just part of the tradition in some countries. When widely practiced within the community, there is acceptance and continuation of the tradition and becomes part of the social norm.
The belief is that removing parts of the genitalia and closing the vaginal opening would preserve the young woman’s virginity and prevent pre-marital sexual activity.
This happens in over 30 countries and more than 200 million girls and women are living after having gone through FGM. It is largely a practice in many countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia.
Immediate problems like bleeding to infection to other serious complications have happened. The long-term complications are even more problematic. Repeated urinary, menstrual and sexual problems may occur and many women undergo repeated surgeries.
The emotional trauma of FGM for many women is the most serious damage that the “cutting” does. Women have anxiety, depression and fears of painful menstruation and sexual intercourse.
Every woman planning a pregnancy must discuss with their physician or their Ob-Gyn about their female genital mutilation and problems they have had from the time of the procedure. There may be difficulties with conception (due to vaginal obstruction or pelvic infection), opening of the vagina, (deinfubulation may be needed] bleeding after child birth, tear of the perineum during childbirth and sometimes other long term complications like fistulae.
If you talk to your doctors about your FGM and the concerns you have, you and your health care provider can be better prepared for a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth.
STIs are infections that one gets through sexual activity or contact with gentials. The most frequent STIs are Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia. HIV, Genital herpes, Human Papilloma Virus and Hepatitis B.
The most important reasons are that STIs can affect your health and many cause fertility problems. Some of the infections can be passed on to your baby during the pregnancy or during childbirth.
If you have had unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic infections, growths or sores around the vulvo vaginal area and anus or if you have a partner with an STI, you should have yourself checked for sexually transmitted infections.
Women with untreated STIs are at risk for miscarriage, early delivery and low birth weight babies. The infection can be passed from mother to baby during the pregnancy or when the baby is passing through the birth canal.
If you have any symptoms or have had a partner with STI, please talk to your physician. Get yourself checked, treated and Be Ready. Also update any vaccinations that are needed before getting pregnant. Please use good contraception until you have sorted all this.
Sleep is as important as food and physical activity for staying healthy. Even adults require 7-8 hours of sleep and women planning a pregnancy should get a lot of ZZZ’S. Sleep lets you stay sharp, active and cheerful and energetic.
Sleep helps to get your blood pressure stay in the health range. Surprisingly sleep has effect even on blood sugar and body weight.
Too much sleep may be a sign of another health issue. Low thyroid levels, high blood sugars, anemia, sleep apnea, depression, constant pain and certain medications are some of the reasons for feeling sleepy.
Some people just like to sleep a lot and take naps during the day, but it’s important to talk to your health care provider to make sure that it is not anything health related.
Good sleep is also a sign of good health. It increases your energy during the day to be active. Developing a good sleep routine or sleep hygiene as it is referred to now is as important as any other healthy behaviour.
Try to do some yoga and meditation, listen to music, drink warm milk, avoid stimulants like coffee or caffeine containing sodas turn off your TV and other devices, get into comfortable clothes, cuddle up with a book and that is all it may take to doze off.
Heart health issues are emerging as a major health concern for women of reproductive age. It seems odd that young women would be at risk for heart problems. The truth remains that young women of today have many risk factors for developing heart problems. This could seriously compromise the pregnancy and the health outcomes of the baby.
The very first thing to do is consult your physician and your cardiologist and discuss your plans. They may do one or more of the following - They may ask you to do some tests, change your medications, add new ones, refer you to a nutritionist or make some changes to your exercise routine.
With a proactive approach you can look forward to a healthy pregnancy and getting on a healthy trajectory for life.