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20s You have finally gained independence, and it’s time for adventures! But practice safe sex by being aware of all of your contraceptive options to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. You should also protect yourself against vaginal and pelvic infections. Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea can cause lasting damage to your reproductive organs, resulting in sub fertility at a later stage. And it’s also important to get immunised against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infections that can lead to cervical cancer.
30s This is a good time to start a family. While sub fertility is defi ned as the inability to conceive after one year of trying, investigations can be performed earlier to assess for any problems. So it’s important to seek help sooner rather than later as the investigations and fertility treatment take time, and the ability to conceive successfully decreases with age. Early assessment is especially important if you have menstrual problems – such as heavy or painful periods – as this can indicate underlying issues such as fibroids and endometriosis.
40s Time to prepare for menopause. Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods and can occur anytime between your 40s and 60s, although it typically strikes during your 50s. The peri-menopausal period may be a difficult time as you’ll experience hot flushes, palpitations, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Various treatment options – both hormonal and herbal – are available and may be recommended depending on your symptoms and medical risks. Your risk of breast cancer also increases after the age of 40, so it’s highly recommended you undergo regular screenings and pelvic ultrasound scans to detect and monitor fibroids and ovarian cysts.
50s During this post-menopausal period, your risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems increases. Osteoporosis refers to the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time, so your risk of bone fractures increases even with minimal trauma. Assess for osteoporosis with a bone mineral density test or DEXA scan.
At this stage in your life, you should also be undergoing regular health screening and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. The Health & Fertility Centre for Women strongly advocates regular preventative health screening as it allows women to detect problems early and prevent them from becoming serious illnesses. The Centre offers a range of holistic screening packages tailored to meet your needs at the different stages of your life. Based on your age and health concerns, you can select from a range of general health or specialised gynaecological screening packages, which include preconception and fertility health screenings.
Dr Kelly Loi Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist