1. Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infection is disease of the urinary tract caused by germs (bacteria, virus). The tract is divided into two parts: upper urinary tract (kidneys and ureters) and lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra). When the infection affects the urethra alone like in gonorrhea or the bladder and urethra, it is called Lower Urinary Tract Infection. However if it spreads through the ureters to the kidneys, it is called Upper Urinary Tract Infection.
About half of all women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime, while many women suffer through several infections throughout their lifetime. Women are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections or UTI. This is because women have a shorter urinary tract than men. The elderly are also more prone to urinary tract infection because of prostate enlargement in men and weak bladder in both sexes leading to incomplete emptying of the bladder
Symptoms include frequent urge to urinate (the urge to urinate recurs quickly, more than six times a day), urgency to urinate (you can pass urine on yourself if you do not go on time) and pain on passing urine. Often very little urine is passed and sometimes, little blood is noticed in the urine. When the need to urinate occurs more often a bladder infection should be suspected.
When bacteria enter the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting may occur as well as the existing symptoms of lower urinary tract infection.
See a doctor when you feel this way.
2. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
This is characterised mainly by lower abdominal pain, slight enlargement and tenderness of the breasts and mood swings just before the commencement of the monthly period; they all make up the Premenstrual Syndrome.
Some women could even suffer from a very severe form of PMS called the Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The pain is in most cases, bearable but if severe a doctor should be consulted.
Anaemia is low blood level, a condition that is quite common in women because of blood loss from menstruation and increased blood supply demand during pregnancy, both of which are peculiar to women. Other causes of anaemia in both women and men include poor diet leading deficiencies in protein, vitamins and minerals, hookworm infestations and some acute and chronic infections.
Symptoms include weakness, pale skin, easy fatigue and dizziness among others.
See a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.
4. Vaginal infections
The commonest complaints of adult women in hospital after malaria are vaginal discharge, vaginal itching and pain when passing urine or during sex. These are all symptoms of vaginal infection.
The commonest diseases on investigations are Candidiasis, Trichomoniasis, Gonorrhoea, Herpes genitalis and Chlamydia.
The following are risk factors for vaginal infections (vaginitis):- pregnancy, prolonged use of antibiotics, chronic illness, use of some creams, tight clothing, douching, frequent sexual activity, poor personal hygiene resulting in faecal contamination of the vagina etc.
The healthy vagina has a normal bacterial environment but this could be disrupted by creams, and douching which could lead to infection.
Vaginal infections are curable.
Sometimes, the lining of the womb grows in certain areas of the woman’s body in addition to the womb itself. Such areas include the ovary, around the womb itself and in the fallopian tubes. It causes irregular bleeding and mild to severe cramping pain in the pelvis which may radiate to legs. This situation may make conception difficult for the woman. It could be hereditary.
The condition does not have a cure so far but can be managed.
Every 3rd or 4th woman in the cities has ‘fibroids’ these days. Usually detected when women approach the doctor due to very heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation or when they have problems conceiving, fibroids are nothing but fibrous growths in the uterus. They grow fairly slowly, and are formed in response to the female hormone oestrogen. They occur naturally, and sometimes shrink after menopause due to the lack of the hormone in the body. Occasionally, they can grow to weigh several kilograms and cause pain during sexual intercourse and frequent urination, urgency to urinate and in very rare cases, infertility.
7. Polycystic ovary syndrome
This is a hormonal disorder which affects about 5-10 percent of women in reproductive age (19-49 years). The cause of the disorder is still unknown.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is characterized by polycystic ovary (this ovary forms many cysts), excessive male hormones resulting in very hairy body and face (hirsutism) and failure to ovulate (produce eggs).
The condition is associated with obesity, hirsutism, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and irregular menstrual periods.
All hope is not lost as the condition is treatable though not curable.