6 Gynaecological Myths

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Myth 1: There are no symptoms for gynaecological cancers.

There are five gynaecological cancers (ovarian, womb, vulva, vaginal and cervical) and each have individual symptoms however some of the common symptoms are; bloating, pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding and back pain. These symptoms often mirror other health conditions such as Irresistible Bowel Syndrome (IBS), if you experience these symptoms for more than 3-weeks it’s important to see a medical doctor for further investigation.

Myth 2: Smear or pap tests detect all gynaecological cancers.

I mean we all wish it did but sorry to break it to you, smear or pap tests DO NOT detect gynaecological cancers. Cervical cancer is the only gynaecological cancer that can be detected by a smear test, it detects pre-cancerous changes to the cervical cells which can later develop to cervical cancer. If detected early, cervical cancer is highly treatable and in countries such as the U.K. women from 25 years or 21 years old in Botswana are eligible to go for smear tests.

Myth 3: There is a screening tool available for ovarian cancer.

Oh how I wish there was. There is currently no screening tool available for ovarian cancer and whilst science tells us it is common in women over 50, it still can affect younger women and that is why it is important to know the key symptoms (bloating, needing to pee more often than usual, abdominal pain and difficulty in eating) see you doctor if you experience these symptoms for more than 3 weeks.

Myth 4: Birth control pill can increase my risk of developing gynaecological cancers.

Recent research shows that using the combined oral contraceptive pill can reduce a woman’s risk of developing ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancer with long-term use. Speak to your doctor to discuss your contraceptive options.

Myth 5: Painful menstruation period is normal.

It certainly is not, severe period pain can sometimes be a symptom for womb cancer or other gynaecological conditions. Speak to your doctor if you often experience severe period pain.

Myth 6: If you have HPV, you will develop cervical cancer.

Most women will be exposed to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection at some point in their lives, but only a small percentage of women develop cervical cancer. Often, HPV will clear up on its own or will be detected in pre-cancerous stages during a smear test. If the infection persists, abnormal cells can form and turn into cervical cancer. Prevention is the smear/ pap test with HPV screening is highly recommended.