What women must know about their anatomy

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Women

Except in rare cases where some individuals have both the male and female sex organs, every human being is born either a male or a female. Whatever sex you turn out to be, there are scientific things to know about your anatomy, especially when you realise that whatever events go on between your thighs can sometimes determine your general wellbeing or, in some cases, your lifespan.

This is more evident in the case of women whose biological make-up is a lot more complicated than men’s, considering their reproductive role.

Physicians believe that a woman cannot be too concerned about her reproductive organ because as her age increases, a lot of changes affect the female genitalia and women need to know what to do to stave off preventable health issues that may want to encroach on their lives via this avenue.

To start with, there is much hype out there about “revirginalisation,” that is surgically replacing a torn hymen — the thin flesh that covers the external opening of the genital of a virgin female.

Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Dr. Femi Adigun, says the claim is one of the biggest commercial lies he has heard as a medical practitioner.

He says, “The hymen cannot grow back once it has been torn, because it is a thin, fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening of the female genital opening, and it can be stretched through sexual intercourse, exercise such as riding bicycles, and so on.”

Experts say if there’s anything that affects the health of the female genital, it is sexual intercourse, because of the various possibilities that go with it, including pregnancy, childbirth, infections, etc.

Despite the media hype that depicts sex as everything, some women do experience pain during intercourse and would rather avoid it where they can. Doctors warn that painful intercourse is not normal and that women who experience it should seek medical help.

Indeed, in a study, Swedish scientists claim that painful intercourse occurs in 9.3 per cent of females, with the incidence being higher among the young and inexperienced and relatively low among the over-50s.

Adigun chips in, “Painful intercourse, medically known as dyspareunia, can be as a result of many issues, but the first thing the doctor must determine is whether the pain is deep inside or near the outside of the genital.”

He says many things can be responsible for intercourse pain, and they include endometriosis (a disorder that often affects the womb and surrounding tissues, making them very tender, particularly when the menstrual period is near).

“The pressure of the male organ on an area of endometriosis may cause intense, deep pain,” Adigun says.

Another cause of intercourse pain is vaginismus — a spasm of the vaginal muscles, caused mainly by fear of being hurt.

Adigun says vaginismus may be as a result of strict upbringing that makes a woman view sex as dirty or nasty; or it could happen if the woman has a history of rape or childhood sexual abuse; or if she has experienced a medical history of painful vaginal infections. “Experiences like these understandably make women fearful of sex and of being hurt,” he warns.

He also explains that medically, there’s a condition called “collision dyspareunia.”

“This happens when infections of the cervix cause it to be tender, such that the woman feels pain during deep penetration,” he enthuses.

He says further that when a woman is infected with Chlamydia and does not seek medical treatment, the infection might result in pelvic inflammatory disease. “In PID, the tissues deep inside become badly inflamed and the pressure of intercourse will cause deep pain,” he says.

He also warns that menopausal or post-menopausal dryness might result in pain during intercourse. In this case, he advises the use of lubricants like Vaseline to ease the tension.

More important, the doctor warns that if a woman is over 40 years of age and suddenly starts having pain during intercourse, she should be checked for cancer, which may or may not be the cause.

Physicians say, like other parts of the body, the female genitalia can age and lose its ‘grips.’ Adigun describes it this way: “The female genital is like a bicep, you either use it or lose it. As a woman ages, the fragile female genital tissues can scar or shrink, especially after menopause.

“Menopause is not the time for a woman to stay away from active sexual intercourse; otherwise, her genitalia might atrophy by decreasing in size, leading to the wasting of the tissues and the attendant discomfort,” he counsels.

Physicians also warn that the female genital might suffer a prolapse. The gynaecologist says prolapse happens when the tissues and muscles surrounding the female genital are weakened, deteriorate or get damaged.

“In general, this condition is called pelvic floor relaxation, and it may cause the supports for the rectum, bladder, uterus, small bladder, urethra, or a combination of them to become less stable,” Adigun warns.

Some causative factors for prolapse include multiple child births, hard labour during child delivery, and delivery of large babies vaginally. Adigun says the symptoms of genital prolapse include difficulty in urinating or bowel movement, inability to control urination, pain when the sufferer stands for too long, or enlarged, wide and gaping vaginal opening.

Many women believe that douching (a process of intravaginal cleansing with a liquid solution) is a way to keep their genital ‘clean.’ Physicians warn against this practice. For one, Adigun says, douching neither prevents infection nor conception; and that the only way to keep the area clean is to simply wash with clean water each time one uses the bathroom; and where there’s no clean water, just wipe dry with a clean soft tissue.

Indeed, an epidemiological study by some Italian scientists suggest that douching increases the risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis — an infection of the vagina’s mucous membranes by Candida albicans, which affects up to 75 per cent of women.

A study published in the Oxford Journal deposes that douching is harmful and should be discouraged because of its association with pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and other conditions.

The epidemiologists, Drs. Jenny L. Martino and Sten H. Vermund, submit that “Douching has been associated with many adverse outcomes, including PID, bacterial vaginosis, cervical cancer, low birth weight, pre-term birth, HIV transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, ectopic pregnancy, recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (vaginal thrush), and infertility.”

And, do you wash your hands before you touch your nether region? Many people would wash hands before eating but do not consider it necessary to also wash hands before washing their bums. Adigun says just as germs can be introduced into the body via the mouth when the hands are dirty, so can germs and certain infections be introduced into the body via dirty hands that touch the female genital. So, wash your hands before washing ‘yourself!’

Finally, how do you clean up after each bathroom use? Experts advise that in order to prevent infection, you should wipe from front to back. Many women do the exact opposite. If you are one of those, it’s time to change.

SOURCE : PUNCH NEWS PAPER

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