Gynecology refers to the health of a woman's reproductive system including the uterus, vagina, and ovaries. It
typically goes hand in hand with obstetrics, which deals with issues concerning pregnancy and childbirth. Gynecology
covers both medical and surgical procedures to diagnose and treat reproductive conditions. Common gynaecological
conditions include ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
What Does a Gynaecologist Do?
As a specialist in the field of women's health care, a gynaecologist is responsible for diagnosing and treating conditions related to the female reproductive system, including menstrual problems, vaginal bleeding, lower abdomen pain, and pelvic pain, among others.
A visit to a gynaecology clinic in Singapore will help provide patients with a range of sexual and reproductive health care services such as gynaecological exams, cancer screenings, and treatments for a full range of gynaecological issues. Gynaecologists are also obstetricians (OB/GYNs) who provide medical care during the preconception, pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods.
What are Common Gynaecological Conditions?
- Ovarian Cysts - These are fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on the ovaries,
usually during ovulation and menstrual cycles. Ovarian cysts are common and mostly harmless, and typically go away on
their own without treatment. For large, persistent or potentially malignant cysts as well as cysts that are associated
with severe pain, surgical removal is advised.
- Fibroids - Also known as myomas, fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in
the uterus. Untreated, they can increase in size and number, causing pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and
frequent urination. Fibroids are treated via hormone therapy, myomectomy, hysterectomy and endometrial embolization.
- Endometriosis - This condition occurs when the endometrium (uterine lining) forms
outside the uterus, causing pain especially during periods and sex. If left untreated, endometriosis can increase the
risk of infertility. Treatment options include medications, hormone therapy, hysterectomy and conservative surgery to
remove endometrial tissues.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - PCOS is a
hormonal condition that results in missed or irregular periods, high levels of male hormones and ovarian cysts. As the
issue progresses, it increases a woman’s risk of infertility,
premature birth, pregnancy loss, and other health complications such as diabetes, high-blood pressure and metabolic
syndrome. Medications and lifestyle modifications are the primary treatments for PCOS.
How are Gynaecological Conditions Treated?
The mode of treatment will depend on the type and severity of the condition.
- Watchful Waiting - Most gynaecological issues, such as ovarian cysts, go away on their own without
treatments. Upon initial assessment, the patient is first advised to undergo further testing and wait for a prescribed
period before being re-examined to check for any progress or development in symptoms. Watchful waiting is important if
the gynaecologist concludes that immediate medical intervention will
result in more risks than benefit for the patient. No treatments are given at this point.
- Medications – Treating gynaecological problems involves providing relief for any of its more serious symptoms
that negatively affect quality of life. Pain medication and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given
for patients who have uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts, not to shrink the fibroid or cyst, but simply to help ease
discomfort and pain. Vitamins and supplements may also be taken to reduce the risk of anaemia.
- Hormonal Therapy - Gynaecological problems are often linked to hormonal issues, thereby making hormonal
therapy one of the most prescribed and effective treatments. Similar to medicines, hormonal therapy may not be able to
remove certain cysts, fibroids or endometrial tissues. However, they can help relieve symptoms, and prevent the
progression of such conditions. They are also used to regulate the body’s hormone levels, which reduce the risk of
PCOS, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids. Contraceptive pills or implants like the Mirena intra- uterine device are
prescribed to control heavy menstrual bleeding and alleviate pelvic pressure.
- Surgery - Surgical procedures are usually performed to treat larger ovarian cysts and fibroids, and
endometriosis. Whether done traditionally or laparoscopically, the goal of the operation is to remove the abnormal
growths without affecting the reproductive system and nearby organs. Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and
oophorectomy (removal of one or both ovaries) are considered permanent solutions to treat and prevent the recurrence
of fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, and even cancer. However, both procedures permanently prevent pregnancies and are
generally seen as a last resort.
When Should You Visit a Gynae?
A girl should start visiting a gynae ideally upon the onset of menstruation or any pelvic discomfort. She should also attend routine check-ups, and should ideally seek medical advice before becoming sexually active (so that they may receive appropriate contraception, HPV vaccination, and advice on future screenings).
Women should also promptly visit their gynaecologists if they experience any abnormal changes in their periods, pelvic pain, as well as vaginal pain, abnormal discharge or odours – all of which indicate an underlying condition may be present and needs to be treated.
How Often Should You Visit a Gynae?
Generally speaking, women should optimally visit their Singapore gynaecologist for a routine, well-woman check-up every year or so. These check-ups usually involve a detailed pelvic scan to detect any abnormalities; as well as Pap smears, HPV tests or STD tests in some patients.
Health & Fertility Centre for Women is an established gynaecology clinic in Singapore that provides a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for all matters relating to women’s health.