Prevention, a keyword in our body’s health: undergoing a periodic check-up is the first step towards self-care.
In particular, we talked about gynecological prevention with Dr. Serena Del Zoppo, gynecologist in Humanitas Medical Care in Arese.
When to start: self-care from puberty to adulthood
According to Dr. Del Zoppo, the right age to start a ‘routine’ of checks is around 18 years, but it can be anticipated in younger girls but already sexually active or ‘foresight of …’, to allow them to have a confrontation with the specialist and possibly talk about sexual intercourse and contraception, issues at the heart of sex education and which can sometimes be considered a taboo or embarrassment at a young age.
From this moment on, follow-up visits should be made about every year .
Delicate phases in the lives of women, which therefore deserve careful monitoring by a specialist, are then ” perimenopause , or phase that precedes menopause and the phase immediately following it,” explained Del Zoppo. These moments in a woman’s life, generally between the ages of 45 and 55, are particularly important, not only because of the physical and psychological change that they face, but in particular because organic diseases of the reproductive system are more frequent. polyps and pretumor alterations of the uterus “and” therefore deserve special attention and control “.
The doctor also recommends contacting the doctor “in case of severe pain or menstrual irregularities that could be the warning light for endometriosis or a polycystic ovary, which can be associated with acne and hirsutism (abundant hair on the body and face).
In addition to a thorough anamnesis , which also investigates possible familiarity or other pathologies, the check-up visit for young girls, only involves a trans-abdominal ultrasound examination, while for women who are already sexually active the visit is accompanied by an ultrasound scan trans-vaginal ; ultrasonography, whether carried out abdominally or transvaginally, allows the doctor to diagnose for example the presence of any ovarian cysts or polyps. “It is an ultrasound performed thanks to the use of a small probe, absolutely painless and well tolerated by the patients”, specified the doctor.
The pap test: the most effective gynecological prevention demonstrated
The pap test , which consists of a cytological sampling (ie of cells) from the cervix similar to a swab, serves to identify any cellular alterations that in most cases are not tumoral, but are dysplasias.
These alterations are often due to the presence of the papilloma virus and, if underestimated, could persist on the cervix and over time could turn into tumors.
This screening test, allowing a very early diagnosis of cervical pre-cancers, reduced cervical cancer mortality by 80%.
But, the doctor reassures, “the papilloma virus is an ubiquitous virus: about 80% of women come into contact with papilloma at least once in their life, they contract the infection in an acute way but the immune system manages to defeat itself virus and thus acquires immunity ”. Only “in some cases the infection persists and leads to dysplasias and only a very small percentage of these evolve into a malignant tumor”.
In recent years the fight against the papilloma virus has found a great ally: the vaccine, which is offered free of charge by the NHS for girls who are 11 years old – ideal age to get vaccinated – but which can be done (for a fee) until 45 years. “Studies show that the vaccine reduces the risk of relapses and reinfections even in women who have already been treated”
“Routinely undergo a gynecological check and pap test are important aspects of gynecological prevention, which however also requires a healthy lifestyle – the doctor concluded -, the right sex education and knowledge of one’s own body in order to easily identify any “Anomalies” of the cycle and request an early specialized assessment “.