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March 16, 2010

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Ladies: No tight pants or undies

GYNECOLOGICAL inflammations bother many women from time to time. While most are not serious, some people have persistent problems caused by bacteria, virus or fungus.

Some can be treated with antibiotics and anti-fungals, especially those of the lower reproductive tract (vaginitis, for example), but chronic problems of the upper reproductive tract (uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries) are serious. Pain is serious.

It is important to see a doctor and to be aware of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as syphilis and gonorrhea (and HIV, of course).

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners say antibiotics and anti-fungals alone won't help chronic problems, especially those of the uterus, Fallopian tubes or ovaries.

TCM doctors say building up the body's own defenses and recovery ability is often more effective.

Chronic ailments usually develop slowly and are hard to heal, says Dr Li Yuxing, associate chief physician of Cheng Zhi Tang TCM Hospital in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province. The 135-year-old hospital is set to open a branch in Shanghai.

"Common infections are not fatal, but they are annoying and disrupt normal married life," says Dr Li. "Over time some infections can lead to loss of reproductive function."

An unhealthy lifestyle, stress and frequent or unsafe abortions are major causes of increased problems. Careless and unprotected sex is another cause.

An unhealthy lifestyle includes lack of rest, irregular meals and poor nutrition. These can decrease immunity, reduce the body's ability to resist invasions of pathogenes and make it difficult to recover.

Too many and too frequent abortions is a major cause of gynecological inflammation problems for young women today, says Dr Li who once met a woman who had had two abortions in three months.

Virus, bacteria and fungal infections (such as yeast) are usually the main cause of problems and drugs are used to kill the germs. Drug resistance can occur in the long term.

In extreme cases, surgery is called for, but problems can recur and scars and polyps can affect fertility.

"Removal of the inflamed part, of course, is not the best choice," says Dr Li. "TCM holds that we should trust the body's ability to heal itself and helping the body regain its 'healthy energy' is often a better approach."

Just like any exposed organs, the eyes, ears or nose, the vagina has its own defenses in healthy flora or "good" bacteria that kill the "bad" bacteria.

Many patients with persistent vaginitis have abnormally low levels of natural bacteria, which means other bacteria or fungus can reproduce quickly, says Dr Li.

To help the body recover - and regain its ability to recover, Dr Li recommends overall adjustment of internal energy, through herbal medicine, external application of medicine, and acupuncture.

Although "downpour" of pathogenic damp-heat energy is considered the main cause of gynecological inflammation in TCM, patients may suffer other energy imbalances that aggravate the situation.

If serious problems are ruled out (and sometimes only a doctor can do that), Dr Li suggests seeing a TCM doctor for herbal medical treatment to adjust an energy imbalance. Prescriptions are compounded for individual patients and change a bit during menstrual periods.

For those suffering serious itching, Dr Li suggests external application of herbal medicine to help dispel pathogenic heat, damp, kill germs and relief discomfort. Herbs can include dandelion, huang bo (bark of Chinese corkt ree), yu xing cao (ordate houttuynia), bai bu (stemona root) and lian qiao (forsythia).

Moxibustion on acupuncture points like shen que (the navel), san yin jiao in lower crus and guan yuan (belly) can help reinforce the healthy energy and blood, and thus reinforce immunity.

Apart from adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding abortions, Dr Li also provides tips to help prevent gynecological inflammation.

Do not use panty shields in non-menstrual period as air should circulate (bacteria thrive in wet environments).

Change sanitary towels at least every four hours.

Wear cotton underwear, not synthetic panties.

Do not wear very tight jeans.

Do not wear low-slung trousers and avoid a bare midriff exposing the navel. Shen que (the navel) and ming men (the corresponding point of shen que at the back) are important acupuncture points that should not be exposed to invasive pathogenic cold or wind.

Let The Eye Breathe Freely

When talking about contact lenses, most people are familiar with the soft variety. Soft contact lenses are most common, but there is another lesser-known category of contact lens known as RGPs, rigid gas permeable, or oxygen permeable lenses.

RGP contact lenses are rigid, but they shouldn't be confused with old-style "hard" contact lenses, which are now obsolete. The old-style of lenses did not allow oxygen to pass through it, and healthy eyes need plenty of oxygen.

What's the difference between soft and RGP lenses?

One big difference is their size: RGP lenses have a smaller diameter.

RGP lenses let more oxygen through than soft lenses.

RGPs can provide better vision, durability and deposit-resistance than soft lenses.

RGPs can be easier to clean, and since they're long lasting, they can be less expensive in the long term than soft lenses.

What are the advantages of RGP lenses?

They are custom-made and can be designed to fit your eye exactly.

They are excellent for astigmatism. Many people with astigmatism are dissatisfied with soft-lens vision. RGP lenses don't bend, so they can give the cornea with astigmatism a rounder shape, which provides crisp vision.?

They are extremely durable. Although you can break them (for instance, if you step on them), you can't tear them easily, like soft lenses.

They are easy to handle.?Unlike soft lenses, RGP lenses can usually be modified by your NVEC specialist for comfort. They can usually be polished (by a professional) to get them very clean. None of this is possible with a soft lens.

They don't need to be taken out as frequently as soft lenses and can be left in overnight for several days at a time without removing them.

What are disadvantages of RGPs?

For maximum comfort, they should be worn regularly, though not necessarily every day. They take a little longer to get used to. Many beginners can feel the lens edge and find it uncomfortable. The overwhelming majority adapt well within two to three weeks.

Some people experience "spectacle blur" with RGPs: when lenses are removed, vision is blurry, even while wearing glasses. This effect is temporary, but it can necessitate full-time RGP wear.

RGP lenses can "pop out" of the eye more readily than a soft lens during vigorous activity, but this is rare.

Consult an NVEC RGP lens specialist

Optometrist Dr Yu Qing has been practicing at New Vision Eye Clinic for more than six years and speaks English and Chinese. He received his master's degree from Wenzhou Medical College in Zhejiang Province in 2004.

You will see Dr Yu if you have discomfort with contacts or vision problems with regular glasses. He also specializes in children's lazy eyes and crossed eyes.

For more, check Service Listing on C16.


Joyce Zhang

PapayaS are rich in antioxidants, like vitamin C and beta carotene, that accelerate tissue recovery, improve immunity and help delay symptoms of aging.

An enzyme in papaya works on protein and thus helps digestion and absorption, helping to prevent and relive indigestion.

Flavonoids fight oxidation, help reduce blood pressure and blood fat and improve microcirculation.

Carpaine can help relieve muscle spasms and related aches.

Regularly eating papaya promotes estrogen secretion and thus reinforces mammary glands and accelerates metabolism. This helps in weight loss and improving the complexion.

TCM classifies papaya as a mildly "warm" (yang energy) food that aids digestion, expels parasites, and dispels pathogenic heat and wind. It is often prescribed to ease tendon pain and relieve spasms, treat gastritis, lactation problems, rheumatism, obesity and eczema.

Pregnant women should not eat papaya as it may cause imbalance in hormones, which might lead to miscarriage.

Papaya juice and milk

Ingredients: Papaya (360g), two cups of milk, sugar

Preparation: Combine chopped papaya, milk, sugar and water in a blender.

Benefits: Helps nourish skin and helps in weight loss. Promotes lactation.

Papaya, soybean and pig's foot soup

Ingredients: 1 papaya, 1 pig's foot , soybeans (100g)


1. Boil pig's foot to eliminate odor.

2. Combine pig's foot and soybeans in saucepan with green onions, ginger and yellow wine. Cook for two hours.

3. Add papaya, simmer 30 minutes.

4. Season with salt.

Benefits: Reinforces spleen, improves appetite and complexion.

Papaya, peanuts and jujube soup

Ingredients: Papaya (750g), peanuts (150g), 5 jujubes, sugar


1. Combine chopped papaya, peanuts and jujubes in saucepan with water and sugar.

2. Boil quickly, then simmer for two hours.

Benefits: Improves complexion, benefits spleen and stomach, nourishes lungs and promotes lacation.


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