My husband wants a baby, but we've been trying for six months in vain

A frustrated couple. Getting pregnant after a miscarriage is usually possible from six weeks.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

Dr Flo,
I have been trying to conceive after losing my first pregnancy, but it has been six months now without results. Could it be a problem caused by the previous pregnancy or that the doctors did not clean my womb properly? I am worried and my husband wants a child.

Dear Wambui,
Getting pregnant after a miscarriage is usually possible from six weeks. Just like anyone else, conceiving is not automatic. Doctors only get concerned when you have been unable to conceive for a year.
If your periods have resumed normally, and there is no abnormal bleeding, abdominal pain or abnormal discharge, then most likely the cleaning that was done after the miscarriage was done properly. To be sure that nothing remained after evacuation and there are no complications, you can visit a gynaecologist. You can also be examined for any treatable conditions. In many cases, however, a cause may not be identified, and losing one pregnancy should not prevent you from getting pregnant again.
Keep trying without putting any pressure on yourself. In the meantime, find out if you have any psychological issues like fear, guilt or trying to replace the baby you lost. You may need to talk to a psychologist/counsellor to help you deal with these issues even as you look forward to another pregnancy. Severe emotional stress may actually contribute to a delay in getting pregnant.

Dr Flo,
Late last year, I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and I was put on medication. However, the symptoms are and off. What causes the disease and does it have a cure?

Dear Mary,
Inflammatory bowel disease is chronic inflammation within the intestines with one type causing ulcers/sores in the lining of the large intestines and rectum. It causes diarrhoea, vomiting, blood in stool, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue. It can also cause arthritis, inflammation of the eye and skin sores. It has no known cause, though it may be associated with an abnormal immune response. It is more common in people whose close relatives have suffered from it. Other risk factors include cigarette smoking, air pollution, high fat diet, refined foods, and long term use of medication like ibuprofen and diclofenac.
Treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs, immune suppressants, antibiotics when needed and nutritional supplements. Where symptoms are severe, you may get nutritional support so that the bowel gets time to rest.
Some dietary changes may be beneficial such as limiting dairy products, taking low-fat foods, eating small frequent meals, taking a lot of water, limiting fibre, caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, and avoiding smoking. Learn to manage stress as it can trigger the symptoms, and exercise regularly. Join a support group or talk to a counsellor. Since it has no known cause, there is no specific cure. You may get better, but there is a relapse risk due to a trigger.

Dr Flo,
Is there any way to know early if you have cervical or breast cancer?

Dear Grace,
For breast cancer, the easiest early detection system is self-breast examination every month. This is done at your own chosen time of the month for instance five days after your periods . You can be shown how to do it at the nearest health facility. If you notice any skin changes, lumps or nipple discharge, then go to the doctor for further examination. Also, make use of free breast cancer screening camps and annual checkups.
Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs of cervical cancer. By the time you are getting the symptoms, the cancer is usually advanced. The symptoms include vaginal bleeding after intercourse, bleeding in between your periods or bleeding after menopause; a watery, blood stained discharge that has a foul smell, low abdominal pain or pain during intercourse. The only way to catch cervical cancer early is to have a pap smear test done regularly and/or to do the HPV DNA test.

Dr Flo,
For a week now, I have had blisters in my groin. I am worried that perhaps these could be genital warts. What do I do?
A worried man

Dear Worried Man,
Blisters in your groin could be due to herpes or bacterial infection. They could also be due to warts, which are caused by infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common STD. The warts can affect the genital region and in or around the anus. You can get HPV from sexual contact or from skin to skin contact with an infected person. In most people, the warts are painless, but you may develop itching, bleeding or a discharge.
It is important to be examined by a doctor for a proper diagnosis. If the blisters are caused by a bacterial infection, you will be given antibiotics. If it is due to herpes, you will be given antiviral medication. If you have warts, there are topical creams like imiquimod, podophylin, trichlorocetic acid, and other treatments like cryotherapy, electrocautery, laser treatment or surgery. After treatment, warts may develop again because the HPV can be inactive in the body for some time then reactivate later.
To prevent re-infection or spreading the infection, practice the ABCs of safe sex —abstinence, being faithful to one uninfected partner, consistent and correct condom use.

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