Common Women Diseases

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Breast Cancer
Breast cancer refers to malignant tumors in the breast. Did you know? Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among females in Singapore. Early detection and appropriate medical treatment during the early stage is the best way to fight against death from breast cancer. Unfortunately, about 40% of new cases of breast cancer identified in Singapore were already in advanced stages, and the mortality rate is relatively high.

Symptoms of breast cancer are relatively easier to be identified compared to other Breast Cancer types of cancer. The symptoms include a lump that is different from the surrounding breast tissue, changes in the appearance of the breast, inverted nipple, peeling or crusting of the areola, redness of the skin over the breast, etc. To put it simply, when the breast is under abnormal circumstances, it is better to seek a doctor’s consultation and medical check-up.

Monthly self-examination is also an important way for early detection of breast cancer.
Although cancer is highly dependent on genetics, the risk of breast cancer can still be reduced by making lifestyle changes. Having a healthy diet (fiber, antioxidants, — phytoestrogen), keeping physically active, breastfeeding, and preventing birth-control pill abuse are good methods for reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that occurs in any part of a human’s urinary system. Most of the infection occurs at the lower urinary tract such as the urethra and bladder. UTI is more common in women than men as women have a shorter urethra, this makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder and cause infection. Other than that, women’s urethra is very close to the anus, bacteria such as Escherichia coli sometimes exit from the anus and get into the urethra.

Moreover, sexually active women will have a higher risk of UTI. Lastly, menopausal women cause women more vulnerable to UTI, this is due to the decline of estrogen leading to a higher risk of UTI. Some tips to prevent UTI include staying hygiene by wiping genitals from front to the back after using the bathroom, this can prevent bacteria from the anus travel to the urinary tract.

Secondly, take probiotics as they can promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut and suppress the growth of bacteria, thus reducing the risk of UTI. Worst case scenario, you are advised to seek doctor advice and take antibiotics if you happen to get infected by UTI.

Osteoporosis is a disease faced by many people, especially in menopausal women. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone tissue breaks down faster than new bone formation, this causes loss of bone mass and strength, ultimately causing the bone structure to be brittle, weak, and fragile. People with osteoporosis have a high risk of bone fracture. According to the National Institute on Aging, women start to experience menopause between the age of 45 and 55.

During menopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop drastically. Estrogen plays
an important role in protecting bone strength. A low level of estrogen causes a higher risk of osteoporosis. Ways to slow down this process is to take in sufficient vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, K, and calcium. Exercising is also a good way to stimulate bones to become stronger and prevent bone loss.

Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and depression are mood disorders that may cause severe symptoms in emotions. These mood disorders can interfere with daily activities such as work, sleep, study, eat, and even entertainment. Anxiety and depression are more common among women than men. Researchers suggest that mood disorders are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, hormonal, and social factors.

In fact, hormonal fluctuations can lead to anxiety and depression. Hormonal-related depression can occur at different stages of a woman’s life, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), perinatal depression, and perimenopausal depression. The hormones which are highly related to mood disorders are female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone), testosterone, and thyroid hormone.

According to studies, estrogen can influence the level of serotonin, a brain chemical that is involved in depression. Estrogen can also trigger the release of dopamine, also known as the “happy hormone” as it is associated with happiness and satisfaction sensations. On the other hand, progesterone is also known as the “relaxation hormone”. When the level of progesterone is low, it can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia.

Since anxiety and depression can be influenced by different factors, there are a lot of different ways to maintain optimum mental health, for example: get sufficient sleep, manage stress, express emotions in appropriate ways, maintain good relationships with surrounding people, etc. Besides, we need to maintain a healthy level of hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, to reduce the risk of mood disorders.