The teenage Years

There's much an adolescent can do to ward off gynaecological problems both now and later in life, says obstetrician and Singapore gynaecologist DR KELLY LOI.

Nowadays, cancer of the cervix - the "silent killer" of women, caused by the HPV virus - can be effectively vaccinated against. All you need is three injections spaced over the course of six months. In Australia, the UK and some other countries, the vaccination is free of charge; in Singapore, nine-to-26-year-olds can claim $300 of the cost (generally $450 to 5500) back from Medisave. Both Cervarix and Gardasil protect against HPV 16 and HPV 18, which together cause most cervical cancers. Gardasil also protects against vaginal warts. Ideally, vaccination should happen before one becomes sexually active, but it does provide a degree of protection later on, too. "I would urge al I young women to undergo this vaccination, and all women to seriously consider it," says Dr Loi.

Irregular Periods?

Apart from problems with the cervix or uterus, lifestyle factors are often the cause of irregular periods or vaginal discharge. Being too thin can affect your periods, and so can being overweight - obesity is linked to polycystic ovaries, which affects fertility. Get back on track with a good diet, and perhaps supplements to correct any deficiencies.

Pap Smear Alert!

HPV vaccination does not replace the need for a regular Pap smear test. Pap smears are recommended for sexually active women between the ages of 25 and 69 years; US guidelines suggest starting them within three years after first having sex.

Dr Kelly Loi is an accredited fertility and IVF Clinician with a holistic approach to women's health. Her work encompasses obstetrics and gynaecology, including laparoscopic surgery for fibroids and other uterus-related problems.

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