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Health Zone: What's up doc?

Byline: AMY ANDERSON

Q I KEEP getting stiffness in my right shoulder. I try to have a good posture at my desk, but the problem persists and I can feel it spreading down my body. Are there any exercises I should do?

A From physiotherapist Sarah Key author of Back Sufferer's Bible: If you always have neck and shoulder stiffness on the same side it probably means you are doing too much one-sided activity, and the layout of desks and work stations is a common cause of this.

Off-centre computer screens make you turn your head one way to see what you are typing. With hours spent at computers each day, this can be a great strain on the joints in the neck and upper thorax. Always set your screen directly in front of you, and every month change the side you use your phone.

Do full-range neck movements several times a day, making sure to get full movement turning your head away from the painful side (leading with your chin over your shoulder). If this doesn't fix it, see a physiotherapist.

Q AFTER I started bleeding between periods I had a scan which revealed small fibroids. My GP says as they are not causing any major problems and are best left alone. Have you any advice?

AAnswer from gynaecologist Anne Szarewski: Fibroids are harmless in themselves. They are just swellings of the muscle wall of the womb: they don't turn into cancer, but can get bigger with time.

What you do depends on whether they are giving you problems and whether you want to get pregnant in the future. Fibroids can make your periods heavier and more painful. If they get big enough they can press on the bladder and the bowel, resulting in you needing to empty your bladder more often.

They can also make it more difficult to get pregnant and to carry the baby to term. So you may want to have them removed: it's quite a big operation and you would normally be advised not to get pregnant for a year to allow the scar on your womb to heal.

Having said all this, if the only problem is bleeding between periods, this is not necessarily due to the fibroids at all - they may just have shown up on the scan. Look into other causes first, as, for example, more common causes of bleeding between periods are infection or hormonal imbalances

Q I AM taking the pill and have heard it's OK to take it right through the month without a gap. I was told that the periods you have while taking the pill are not real periods anyway. Can I do this permanently? I'd love not to have periods or mood swings every month.

AFrom GP Dr Rob Hicks: With most combined oral contraceptive pills it is possible to continue one pack after the other without a gap and therefore avoid having a withdrawal bleed. This is often done when a woman's withdrawal bleed is going to come at an inconvenient time, such as when she's going on holiday or on her wedding day.

For some women who always get headaches or heavy and painful bleeds during the withdrawal week, it is possible to take three packets without a break. This is called the "tricycle pill method".

However, it's not recommended to take more than three pill packets without a break. Whether it's safe to take the pill without a gap also depends largely on the type of pill. So if a woman is considering this she should consult her doctor first.

Q MY husband and I are in our twenties, we both work very hard and are just too tired at the end of a long day to make love. I'm worried that I'm thinking less and less about sex the less we do it. Surely I should be thinking about it more?

A From sex therapist Phillip Hodson and author of How To Make Great Love to a Woman

Alas sex doesn't work like that. You think about sex more when you have energy to spare, not when you are tired all the time. So there is no mystery about how you are feeling. Sex isn't going to seem like an attractive option until you can take a break, have a rest and rediscover your "get up and go".

Go on holiday and do it soon. Sleep for the first two days. Eat and drink on day three. Then I bet you can't keep your hands off your husband on day four. When you get home, keep taking the odd long weekend for the sake of your love life and make sure you get a lie in at weekends until at least 10 am. Your libido will remain at a low ebb unless you catch up on your sleep and feel revitalised.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 14, 2001
Words:810
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