A journey ‘from the cradle to the grave’
November 26, 2010
A journey ‘from the cradle to the grave’

MEMBERS of the audience at the seventh lecture in the Girls’ High School Centenary Lecture Series were taken on a journey that most of them would not forget soon.{{more}}

Those in attendance at Frenches House, as well as viewers to SVG TV and listeners to NBC Radio, were rapt in the lecture, titled ‘Women’s health care in a modern society’, which was delivered by Consultant Obstetrician / Gynecologist Dr. Camille Nicholls, of the Class of 1979.

On Thursday, November 18, Nicholls took her listeners on a journey ‘from the cradle to the grave’ through women’s health from a sexual, spiritual, physical and psychological standpoint, with some mention on the role women play in men’s health.

Nicholls, who has been in her post at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) for the past nine years and who also runs her own private clinic, began her journey where it starts for most women, at the beginning of the menstrual cycle (menarche).

She noted that in these modern times, a shift in the age of the young girl’s first ‘period’ has been decreasing.

“The average age of menarche is 12 years…. The age of menarche has been slowly declining, much to the horror of mothers, who have to cope with their eight and nine year olds daughters having periods. The earlier onset of menarche can be attributed to an increase of affluence and altered eating habits,” Nicholls pointed out.

At her next stop of significance, Nicholls looked at the consequences of sexual intercourse, which includes pregnancy, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Sexually Transmitted Infections the likes of herpes, Chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and HIV.

With the aid of graphic slides, the doctor explained some of the negative consequences of a woman having sex.

“The decision to become sexually active without giving thought to our actions may lead to STI, PID or eventually infertility,” she warned.

As it pertains to pregnancy, Nicholls touched on the topic from a mature woman and teenaged girl’s point of view.

“For mature women, it’s a time of excitement, accomplishment, it’s the time when we have achieved the essence of womanhood…. Can this be the same experience for the schoolgirl who has to face her parent with the information that she is pregnant, and therefore indirectly state that she was/ is sexually active?” Nicholls asked.

Nicholls also spent a length of time dealing with what she called the preventable disease: Cervical Cancer.

She sensitized the audience by stating that a simple pap smear examination annually can help a woman screen for the cells that cause one of the top killers of women worldwide, but especially in the region.

“It is the best tool to detect pre-cancerous conditions and hidden small tumors that can lead to cancer,” said Nicholls, adding “If detected early, Cervical Cancer can be cured.”

During the doctor’s journey, she also visited the topic of breast cancer, fibroids and menopause, which she indicated may begin after age 35 and usually sets in at 51-years-old.

The journey ended at old age, where, Nicholls noted, life does not necessarily end for the woman.

“How do we cope? Embrace this period of your life. We are at a critical crossroad and its time to do a life inventory….

“….Identify negative stressful areas in your life and make a firm decision to eliminate them,” she said.

Nicholls advised that healthy eating habits must be practised, such as exercise and other physical activities.

At the end of her presentation, Nicholls urged all women, young and old, to make their health and wellbeing one of their key priorities.

“I implore you to take a day out of your hectic schedule, call it ‘My Day’ and get your annual assessment. Get your blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels checked, along with your C A one to five; a screening test for ovarian cancer,” she outlined.

“Do your pap smears, mammogram, and pelvic ultrasound and experience that peace of mind; your peace of mind- illness does not discriminate,” Nicholls stated.