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Women's Health in COVID times

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has brought the world to a screeching halt. It is one of the greatest challenges our generation has ever faced. Both economic and health consequences are enormous. Everyone involved in the health sector are focusing not only on how to bring this pandemic to an end by researching drugs and vaccines, but are also engaged daily with an uphill task of looking after these patients to minimise their suffering and untimely death.

Women although supposed to be less affected by coronavirus, they are at present on their backfoot with reproductive & gynecological health issues during these trying times. Observations till now show that pregnant patients are at no greater risk than the general population and the pregnancy outcomes are not adversely affected by COVID-19. They are in fact advised to take the same precautions as the general public. Data available till date does not suggest that COVID 19 infection is transmitted to the baby during pregnancy or labour. They can safely breast feed their babies.

However there is need to acknowledge the unintended consequences of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown on women’s health in general. We must consider their mental health issues, rise in domestic violence and more importantly the lack of access to gynaecological treatments. The contraception and safe abortion advise &accessibility must be insured to avoid unintended pregnancies. Abnormal episodes of bleeding during menstrual cycles which could heavy, delayed, irregular or after sex. Postmenopausal women with bleeding should definitely not ignore this symptom as there are concerns about gynaecological cancer in this situation. Associated with pain and anaemia are consequences of these conditions. The quality of life of these women is affected. So women are advised to reach out to gynecologists to address these concerns, either online or if possible with physical appointments. Pushing these conditions for later date can lead to situations that are more difficult to treat.

Chronic conditions like pelvic pain and infections, endometriosis or fibroids deserve attention and can be managed by medicines or with simple outpatient surgical procedures. So, there is no reason to suffer silently as the women’s health and happiness is the nidus for the whole family’s well-being. Those suffering from infertility and planning conception should start with good diet, regular exercise and weight loss where appropriate as this is often the first advise they receive from clinicians. In fact women can turn this stay at home situation to their advantage by focussing on their diet and exercise and emerge healthier & stronger. Target a 5% weight reduction in a month or two and see the difference. Pap smears, mammograms or biopsies where indicated can pick up diseases early so should not be ignored or postponed.

We are in a long haul with coronavirus infection. Remaining healthy could not have been better emphasised than the present time. Along with all the other health issues, the reproductive & gynaecological issues remain cornerstone in women’s quality of life.

Updated on September 28, 2020