Dr. Aparna Sridhar, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, offers tips in a university news release on how college women can take charge of their health.
Know your health status – Sridhar said college girls should discuss with their parents and doctor to ensure they’re up-to-date with health screenings, shots and prescriptions.
Keep track of menstrual cycles – If there’s an issue with your menstrual flow, it would help to provide your doctor with up-to-date information. Sridhar said most of her patients keep track of their menses using their cellphones. She added that it would be helpful to track your mood, cramps and birth control.
Maintain good hygiene habits – Change sanitary protection as recommended. Use fragrance-free, pH-neutral soap in the vaginal area instead of scented soaps or shampoos. Avoid feminine sprays, douches or powders.
Protect yourself during sex – Abstinence is the best option. But if you must, consider condom use to guard against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Prevent unintended pregnancies by using emergency contraception and birth control.
Guard against HPV – College students should make sure they have been immunized for human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection which can cause cervical cancer but can be prevented by the HPV vaccine and screening with pap smears.
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Report sexual abuse or violence – Most undergraduate women are sexually assaulted on campus. Consult the campus website or your dorm’s resident assistant for help reporting an assault.
Watch out for urinary tract infections – Drink plenty of water to flush out your system and discuss with your doctor if you have painful or burning sensation or frequent urination.
Know how to get medical care on campus – Find out the location of the nearest health center that accepts your insurance.
“Vaginal discharge is abnormal if you have itching, redness and pain,” Sridhar said. Women with greenish-yellow, foamy or foul odor discharge are immediately expected to see a doctor.