According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, all women should have a pelvic exam at least once a year, as well as a ‘General Women’s Wellness Exam’ and a smear test. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women, and the seventh overall, accounting for 7.5 per cent of all female cancer deaths. That being said, it’s important to get into good gynaecological habits early on, and take extra care of the health of your reproductive system while abroad.

What is gynaecology?

Gynaecology, which outside of medicine literally means ‘the science of women’, usually consists of an intimate physical examination followed by a diagnosis. Gynaecologists normally do a bimanual examination (one hand on the abdomen and one or two fingers in the vagina) to palpate the cervix, uterus, ovaries, and bony pelvis. Rectovaginal examinations are also not uncommon for a complete evaluation of the pelvis, and abdominal and/or vaginal ultrasounds can be used to confirm any abnormalities appreciated with the bimanual examination or when indicated by the patient’s history.

Surgery is the mainstay of gynaecological therapy. Common surgeries that gynaecologists may perform are the hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), cervical excision procedures (removal of the surface of the cervix containing pre-cancerous cells), oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), and hysteroscopy (inspection of the uterine cavity), among others. Depending on the exact nature of the problem a gynaecologist is treating, they may also prescribe medication such as antibiotics, diuretics, antihypertensives, and antiemetics.

What conditions are treated by gynaecology?

Gynaecologists treat a range of conditions and symptoms, ranging from the everyday and relatively harmless to the life-threatening, such as cervical cancer. Conditions such as incontinence of urine, amenorrhoea (absence of menstrual periods), dysmenorrhoea (painful menstrual periods), infertility, prolapse of pelvic organs, infections of the vagina such as vaginitis and other fungal, bacterial, viral and protozoal infections, as well as other vaginal diseases.

Accessing treatment for conditions affecting the female reproductive system and organs is often a relatively simple process, though when abroad this could be a little more difficult. In some countries, women are required to see a general practitioner prior to seeing a gynaecologist, though should the condition you are experiencing require specialist knowledge, training, equipment, or a surgical procedure unavailable to the doctor, then you will be referred to a gynaecologist.

While the majority of gynaecologists are, in this day and age, female, there are also many male gynaecologists who may be required to carry out your intimate examination. However, for the sake of the comfort and happiness of the patient, it is often the case that male gynaecologists will be accompanied by a female chaperone.

What should I do if I require gynaecology?

There are many steps you can take to keep your gynaecological health at its best. These include getting an annual gynaecological check-up, practicing safe sex, eating a healthy diet, doing regular kegel exercises, working out regularly, and avoiding using harsh or scented soaps on the vulva. If, however, you are worried about the health of your reproductive organs while abroad, make sure to pay attention to your body, and get in touch with a medical practitioner.

TripMedic can help you find a qualified gynaecologist close to you who can offer you help and advice in your own language.

information verified by TripMedic