Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tips for gynecological problems during overseas travel

Picture courtesy Huffington Post
Gynecological problems can be a real worry during overseas travel because of the reluctance to accept medical advice from unknown doctors. Before leaving for any long overseas trip, all women between 25 and 65 should have a cervical smear (pap smear), except possibly those who have never had a sexual partner. It is worth checking on your smear result by phone. Smears should be repeated every three years if normal, and according to your doctor’s advice if not fully normal.

Period problems during overseas travel

When traveling or going to live in a strange place, periods may get lighter or stop altogether, sometimes for months. This is very common, and no action needs to be taken unless pregnancy is a possibility or if you or your friends notice that you have lost a lot of weight.

Periods may also become irregular, abnormal or prolonged. If such problem persist you should see a doctor. If this not possible, and you are definitely not pregnant, it is possible take the combined oral contraceptive pill for seven days. You should only do this if you have recently had a clean bill of health and can see a doctor if abnormal bleeding is not cured by this treatment.

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It is worth reporting any prolonged, heavy bleeding as soon as possible whenever it occurs, not least because of the increased risk of needing a blood transfusion. Also check any persistent changes from your normal cycle when you next come home.

Remember it is better not to be menstruating during wildlife safaris, or while swimming where sharks may be lurking.

Vaginal discharge during travel

This is often commoner in the tropics, especially in hot and humid conditions and if you wear tights or jeans.

‘Thrush’ usually causing an itchy discharge, is especially common. You must carry certain medicines with your while traveling to tropics. Vaginal discharge medicines should not be taken if there is a possibility of pregnancy or if you are also taking antihistamines.

Sexually transmitted diseases can cause a discharge, and if you think there is a possibility of an STD, try to see a reliable doctor.

Family planning during your travel

If you are on the pill, take ample supplies of the preparation you are used to until you find out whether a reliable brand name of identical composition is available locally.

For couples who have definitely decided not have more children, it is worth giving serious thought to a permanent form of contraception (tubectomy or vasectomy) well before leaving or early on in your next home leave. This reduces one form of stress that is at least largely under your control.

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