Everything you’ve ever wanted to ask a gynaecologist
Dr Anjali Kumar knows what’s up — or rather, down
“Should I add kesar to my diet to have a better looking baby?” Dr Anjali Kumar, gynaecologist at Artemis hospital has fielded a lot of strange questions in her line of work. A line of work that she never dreamed would be hers, after she ended up in the labour room as a medical student, witnessed a delivery and promptly passed out.
Fate of course, had other plans, and now the good doctor has years of deliveries and answering absurd questions under her belt — ‘you should have picked your partner carefully’ is what she told the kesar-keen lady. She kicks off Tweak India’s ‘Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask A…’ series and answers all the burning questions you may have been too embarrassed to ask your own gynaecologist.
How regularly should you visit a gynaecologist?
It’s very important for mothers to know that once her daughter gets her first period, she must take her to the gynaecologist. We use this opportunity to explain to her what the period is, being sexually active – it’s a subject which is still taboo in our country. We take this opportunity to talk to the mother and the daughter, both. When she actually gets married — we offer premarital counselling and we talk to them about how should they plan their family. The next time you must visit a gynac is when planning a pregnancy. The most important time is middle age – the importance of exercise, taking calcium, getting regular pap smears and finally, when she goes into menopause. It’s important to remember you don’t have to wait for the problem to arise to come to the gynaecologist. You have to come to us so that the problem doesn’t arise.
Do we really need vaginal washes?
If you’re getting vaginal infections frequently, one can be prescribed a vaginal wash. But as a routine, I spend time telling patients what they can do to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection, rather than prescribing vaginal washes.
What was your first day on the job like?
I saw a delivery being conducted and I fainted. I said ‘oh my god, Kuch bhi ban jayenge but gynaecologist nahi banenge’ and here I am. A gynaecologist.
Is it true that women’s menstrual cycles end up syncing with each other?
No, there is no scientific rationale to it – it might just be a coincidence.
What’s the best grooming technique?
Medically, there is no answer to this. In case you feel bothered, you can clip the hair short. I would rather take this opportunity to talk about the bikini wax — the kind of wax and spatula they use, there’s a possibility of an infection being transferred from one person to another.
What is the best option between tampons, pads and menstrual cups?
Pads are very common and easily available. And for tampons, the only word of caution is that, once the tampon is in, it’s not visible from outside, and many people tend to forget the tampon. Leaving the tampon inside can cause severe infections, which from down below can ascend to the rest of your body and it can be life-threatening. What happens with a menstrual cup is that there’s no problem of disposal of bio-medical waste as compared to a tampon or pad.
Are abortions legal in India?
Of course. We have a proper MTP Act in place which dictates who can undergo an abortion, till how many weeks a pregnancy can be aborted, guidelines as to who can do the abortion and where the abortion should be done. The best to manage all this is to go to a proper gynaecologist, who can suggest the appropriate course of action.
How often should I get a pap smear or an STD screening?
Pap smear is a cervical screening by which we can find out if a woman is susceptible to getting cervical cancer. Start getting a pap smears three years from the time of first intercourse, and then later, of course, every 3 years or from the age of 21, whichever is earlier.
What are the side effects of going on the pill for contraceptive purpose?
There are a few side effects – by and large the pill is very safe, provided it’s taken under medical supervision.
Could I be allergic to condoms?
You can try switching to another brand of condom – if that doesn’t work, you need to go to gynaecologist.
Does having sex when you’re pregnant hurt the baby?
Typically, it does not harm the baby unless your doctor has found a medical condition and has asked you to abstain.
When is the best time to talk to children about sex and what is the best approach?
I can give you a small example – I had a caesarean both the times. Once, my daughter was intently watching a pigeon and saw an egg, and she came up to me and asked ‘pigeon ka caesarean kisne kiya hoga?’. So I explained to her, normally, the baby comes out through a passage that god has created, but sometimes if there’s a problem in that passage, we have to create another passage through which the baby can come out. She was satisfied with that answer and I feel that if I had scolded her or avoided the question, then she probably wouldn’t have asked me the next time.
What is the most absurd question or myth that a patient has come to you with?
‘Ma’am, should I put kesar in my diet, to have a beautiful baby?’ The answer to this question is, you should have chosen your partner carefully.