THE prospect of having a baby is one of the most exciting
things for a woman. But the thought of medical complications that lie between
conception and giving birth to a healthy child causes considerable worries for
many women. If you are planning to have a baby, it’s important to inform yourself
about the various female reproductive issues you may be confronted with.
WHAT YOU MIGHT GO THROUGH
Some degree of discomfort can be expected in any normal
pregnancy. It’s very likely that you’ll experience any or several of the
Fatigue and insomnia.
Feeling nauseous, hot and faint.
Vaginal cramps, bleeding and discharges.
Constipation, excessive urination and incontinence (lack of voluntary control
Indigestion and heartburn.
Swollen fingers, feet and ankles.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that develop in the
muscle tissue of the uterus. While some women may have no symptoms, others will
suffer from heavy or painful menstrual bleeding, lower back ache, frequent
urination and pain during sexual intercourse. Depending on their size and
location, fibroids can cause infertility. After diagnosing the fibroids, your
doctor may prescribe medication to shrink them or temporarily stop their growth
or recommend to remove them surgically. If a large fibroid is blocking the
opening of your uterus towards the end of a pregnancy, birth via Caesarean
section may be required.
When the tissue that normally lines your uterus grows in
areas outside of the uterus, this is referred to as endometriosis. It occurs in
about six to 10 per cent of women and is known to be a common cause of
infertility. Many sufferers don’t display any obvious symptoms, but some may
complain of diarrhoea, bloating, strong pelvic pain, constipation and chronic
fatigue. While the cause is unknown and there is no cure for the condition,
treatment options (medication and surgery) are available to help with the pain
and to improve fertility.
These small, fluid-filled sacs commonly form around the
ovaries. In most cases, they are harmless and benign (not cancerous). Abdominal
pain, gradually spreading to the lower back and thighs, along with vomiting and
queasiness are among the symptoms. On the few occasions on which a cyst turns
out to be malignant (infectious), it needs to be removed. There are some types
of ovarian cysts which can be associated with decreased fertility. These are
caused by endometriosis and cysts that are the result of Polycystic Ovary
Syndrome, which occurs in women whose ovaries produce elevated amounts of
hormones called androgens. Ovarian cysts can also develop during pregnancy and
although they seldom cause complications, they should be carefully monitored.
Most will naturally shrink in size and only in rare cases where they threaten
to interfere with the pregnancy will they be removed surgically.
There are several medical conditions which you may
experience during your pregnancy, including:
A complex condition that is indicated by a rise in blood
pressure and an increase in protein in the urine. Pre-eclampsia is not usually
a cause for concern. However, if left untreated, it can develop into eclampsia
and lead to seizures that may threaten your life and that of your baby.
This happens when a fertilised egg accidentally implants
outside the uterus, most frequently in a Fallopian tube. Since there is no way
of transplanting the egg into the uterus, the only option is to terminate the
pregnancy as soon as possible. Signs of an ectopic pregnancy include lower
abdominal, pelvic and shoulder pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness and slight,
irregular vaginal bleeding that is often brownish in colour.
This describes a situation in which the placenta lies
unusually low in the uterus, next to or covering the cervix. Your doctor will
monitor the position of the placenta through ultrasound scans as your pregnancy
progresses. In the rare instance where it remains dangerously low towards the
latter stages, delivery by Caesarean section is necessary.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
This is an infection caused by inflammation in the uterus,
ovaries and Fallopian tubes. This is a common cause of infertility and
pregnancy complications, particularly increasing the risk of an ectopic
Between two and 10 per cent of all expectant mothers
contract this type of diabetes, which is normally detected by routine
glucose-screening tests between 24 and 28 weeks of your pregnancy. Ask your
doctor to help you put together a healthy diet and an exercise plan to treat
this condition. Medication may also be prescribed.
When the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine
wall, this deprives the foetus of oxygen. Signs of placental abruption include
cramping, vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. A few days of bed rest may stop the
bleeding, but in more severe cases, complete bed rest or even immediate medical
attention and early delivery may be necessary.