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Gentle way to put back the pleasure into loving.

OVER the last few years making love has become more and more uncomfortable because of vaginal dryness. I've tried using lubricants like KY jelly which do help, but it is still not as comfortable as I'd like. I had an hysterectomy 20 years ago. Could this have some bearing on the problem?

VAGINAL dryness and soreness are common symptoms of the menopause and are caused by falling levels of the female hormone oestrogen.

A combination of less natural lubrication and changes to the walls of the vagina, which become thinner and more sensitive, mean that a lot of women find making love less enjoyable after the menopause.

Having your womb removed (hysterectomy) is relevant. Oestrogen is produced by the ovaries which are removed during some hysterectomies - the so-called surgical menopause. Even in hysterectomies where the ovaries are left in, women are more likely to reach the menopause earlier than if they had not had the operation - and the earlier it happens the more troublesome symptoms tend to be.

Vaginal lubricants like KY jelly or Replens will help, but the most effective way of dealing with the problem is to replace the missing oestrogen using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There are a number of ways that you can do this, ranging from tablets and patches to using a vaginal cream, and I suggest you make an appointment to see your GP to talk through the pros and cons of all the different types.

For more advice and information on any aspect of the menopause or HRT, contact Women's Health Concern at 93- 99 Upper Richmond Road, London SW15 2TG. Please enclose an s.a.e.

I HAVE suffered from piles and constipation for years. I have finally had the piles injected, but it has not helped the constipation. Do you have any suggestions?

PILES are basically varicose veins of the bottom and they are the result, not the cause, of your constipation. The treatment you have had, which involves injecting an irritant oil into the piles to make them wither away, works well for mild piles but won't last long unless you do something about your bowels.

The most natural way to prevent constipation is to eat a high-fibre diet. Leave the skin on all your fruit and vegetables, go for brown rather than white bread, and wash all this down with plenty of water. If this doesn't help try eating a bowl of bran every morning (this will give you half your daily requirement) or speak to your GP about the various fibre drinks available on prescription.

WHAT'S the best way to get rid of threadworms?

THREADWORMS are the most common worm infection in Britain. They can affect any age group but are particularly common in children. The worms live in the bowel close to the appendix from where the female travels down to the anus to lay her eggs.

The classic symptoms of threadworm infection are an itchy bottom (caused by an allergic reaction to the eggs) and noticing white thread- like worms when going to the loo.

The key to getting rid of them is good personal hygiene combined with worming pills. Medicines like mebendazole taken in two doses (two weeks apart) will kill the worms, but won't touch the eggs. To prevent reinfection during treatment (very common and caused by swallowing the eggs) I advise my patients to cut their fingernails short, and to wash their hands carefully after going to the loo. Night clothes and sheets should be changed every night for the first couple of weeks and the bedroom floor vacuumed every morning.

PULSE

new in

medicine

A british company aims to make injections painless ...there's no needle. The device shoots particles through the skin, just like the gadget in Star Trek.

Please do not let the case of a young mother who died of cervical cancer despite two smear tests put you off. Such mistakes make up only a tiny fraction of the 550,000,000 tests done each year - which save hundreds of lives.

Nearly half of women with asthma get worse the week before their periods. Scientists say the female hormone progesterone is probably responsible.

The baby's twinkle will return

I'm concerned about my six-month-old grand- daughter. In the last eight weeks she has had four eye infections and she now seems to be developing another. Her GP says that she will grow out of it and it is nothing to worry about. Why do you think she is getting them?

Eye infections (conjunctivitis) are very common in young babies. There are a number of different causes but by far the most common is a narrowed, or blocked, tear duct.

This duct carries tears away from the inner corner of the eye into the nose (that is why your nose runs when you cry). Tears play an important role in keeping the eye clean, and if the tears do not drain properly then infection is much more likely.

The good news is that most cases sort themselves out as the child grows. The bad news is that until that happens (normally by 12 months of age), she will be prone to having a mucky eye.

All you can do is keep the eye as clean as possible by gently cleansing it twice a day with cotton wool soaked in tepid salty water (a pinch of salt in a tea cup ) and take her to a GP for treatment if the eye ever looks sore.

Have we inherited a killer?

My sister's son died suddenly in his early 20s from Marfan's Syndrome. I have heard this can run in families and wonder if there are any tests the rest of the family can have to see whether, or not, we are affected?

Marfan's Syndrome is caused by an inherited abnormality of some of the body's tissues and affects around 1 in 5,000 people.

There is no specific test for it, so doctors depend on looking for symptoms and signs. The classic giveaway is that those affected tend to be very flexible ('double jointed') and have abnormally long arms, legs, hands and feet.

Sufferers often have a weakness in the main outlet of the heart (the aorta) - this is what may have caused your nephew's death. Because of this, the average life expectancy of someone with Marfan's, up until recently, was between 40 and 50 years.

Thankfully, advances in heart surgery have meant that early deaths can now be prevented in many cases, but that does depend on the diagnosis being made early rather than late.

For more details send an s.a.e. to The Marfan Association UK, Rochester House, 5 Aldershot Road, Fleet, Hants GU13 9NG.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Porter, Mark
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 29, 1997
Words:1115
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