‘Women require reproductive health education’
By Shahid Husain
KARACHI: Women in Pakistan require greater education about reproductive health, particularly about vaginal discharge, a doctor part of a team that conducted a study into reproductive health among women said on Saturday.
According to the study, vaginal discharge is one of the most common medical problems among women of reproductive age in Pakistan for which they seek medical advice.
More than 50 percent women at gynaecology out patient departments (OPD) are there because of vaginal discharge, according to Dr Sharaf Ali Shah, programme manager of the Sindh AIDS Control Programme, Government of Sindh. Dr Ashraf Memon, Dr Abdul Khalique Ghauri and Dr Sikandar Ghauri assisted him. The study, however, found that about two-thirds of women seeking treatment had physiological discharge, and required only reassurance.
Making a presentation at a seminar here on Saturday, Dr Shah said vaginal discharge is classified as a sexually transmitted disease and can lead to serious complications such as ectopic pregnancy and infertility if not treated in time.
He said there was no consensus among healthcare providers regarding the common causes of vaginal discharge, so there are no uniform treatment guidelines. For the majority of cases, the treatment often fails, he added. He said the objective of the study was to find out pathogens causing vaginal discharge and risk factors associated with vaginal discharge patients. Women between 15 and 45 years of age complaining of vaginal discharge were observed in the study.
Dr Shah said women in the 25-35 age group had the highest percentage, 55.8, of incidence, while those between 35-45 years had an incidence of 21.7 percent. 96.9 percent of the women were married while 3.1 percent were divorced/widowed/separated, he said.
Pathological discharge occurs mostly due to contamination during delivery and surgical interventions in the past and overgrowth of opportunistic organisms in malnourished patients, he said, adding special attention was needed towards treatment, including effective anti-microbial therapy along with counselling, partner management and screening for HIV. Dr Shah said vaginal discharge does not necessarily mean a disease. He said healthcare providers need to be trained to differentiate between physiological and pathological discharge and management of vaginal discharge due to pathogens.
There was a need to ensure, he said, aseptic conditions (proper sterilization) during delivery, instrumentation, and vaginal examination in order to avoid contamination.