Gynaecological health

Part of: Women's Health

Keep yourself in good gynaecological health

Gynaecological health is about understanding your body and knowing the signs and symptoms of gynaecological conditions. Women who understand their bodies can make better choices about their own health needs and protect themselves against diseases.

Getting equipped with the right knowledge and knowing when to see your gynaecologist is key to your overall well-being.

When should you see a gynaecologist?

From puberty to menopause, a woman's health needs change as her reproductive organs respond to the body’s normal process of sexual activity, pregnancy, ageing, and sometimes to injury or disease.

Gynaecologists specialise in women's health, particularly in relation to a woman's reproductive system. They treat and manage conditions ranging from:

  • Pregnancy and fertility
  • Menstruation and menopause
  • Family planning
  • Sexually transmitted infections and diseases
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Bladder and pelvic floor health (urogynaecology)
  • Conditions involving the breasts and reproductive organs

You should visit a gynaecologist annually for a routine checkup and when you have symptoms such as pain in the pelvis, vulva or vagina and abnormal bleeding from the uterus.

What you can expect during a routine gynaecological visit

During an annual gynaecological visit, your gynaecologist may perform different health screening examinations depending on your age and risk of disease to assess your health.

These may include:

  • Pelvic exam, in which your doctor checks your pelvic region for any abnormalities.
  • Pap smear test, often done during the pelvic exam. Your doctor will take a sample of the cells from your cervix and send it to a lab to be checked for abnormalities.
  • HPV test, where the sample from your Pap smear is used to also test for the human papilloma virus, which can lead to cervical cancer.
  • Mammogram to screen for breast cancer.

Did you know? Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for women around the world. In Singapore, 1 in 3 women dies from heart disease and stroke.

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What are common gynaecological health conditions?

Women may be affected by gynaecological conditions that affect different parts within a women’s reproductive system.

Here are some of the more common conditions:

Fibroids are non-cancerous muscular growths within the walls of the uterus. They are found in 30% of women of reproductive age, but only 1 in 4 women display symptoms. As a result, they often go undetected.

If left untreated, they can complicate a pregnancy and lead to miscarriage or infertility.

Depending on the size, number of fibroids, age of patient and fertility wishes, management of the condition may differ:

  • Some patients may be monitored as fibroids grow at 0.5 – 1cm per year
  • Some patients my need surgical treatment to remove the fibroids
  • Medical treatment can be used to treat symptoms associated with fibroids such as heavy menses

Surgical treatment involves the removal of the fibroids (myomectomy), or removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the ovary and can be benign or malignant. Benign cysts are usually related to menstrual cycle changes. They usually occur without symptoms and resolve on their own.

Complications arise if a cyst grows abnormally large or ruptures, or if numerous small cysts develop on the ovaries, a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Initial treatment involves a wait-and-see approach with monitoring using periodic pelvic ultrasounds. Surgical treatment may involve removal of the cyst while leaving the ovary intact (cystectomy), or removal of the ovary (oophorectomy).

Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells from the inner lining of the womb grow outside the uterus and in the surrounding areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and ovarian ligaments.

The tissue releases blood and inflammatory chemicals during menstruation, which results in painful periods that can interfere with daily life. It can lead to infertility or increase your risks of developing ovarian cancer by 2 – 3 times.

Cervical cancer is the 10th most common cancer for women in Singapore. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which:

  • May also cause mouth and throat cancers, cancer of the vulva, vagina, anus, as well as genital warts
  • Can be transmitted through sexual contact

Cervical cancer can be easily prevented through the HPV vaccination (recommended for all girls and women aged 9 – 26) and cervical screening via regular Pap smear and HPV tests. Ask your gynaecologist if the HPV vaccination is suitable for you or your child.

Gynaecological cancers are amongst the top 10 most common cancers affecting women in Singapore today.

These female cancers, including breast, cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers, are highly treatable when detected early. It is important for you to be aware of the early signs and symptoms and to go for regular screenings.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.