Overshadowed by a more conservative Asian upbringing, many women in Singapore can still be a little shy about their bodies. But stand proud, ladies, because there are so many amazing things our bodies are capable of.
Putting aside the obvious, that only women can grow life in their uterus before giving birth to a miracle nine months later, the ‘weaker sex’ is capable of many amazing things that even we may not know about. And never mind the fun facts like women have more taste buds and smell better – in more ways than one, or have better night and colour vision than the boys. Instead, let’s cut right to the important stuff!
1. Girls mature faster than boys do
The annoying boy next door may be physically taller and stronger, but girls actually get to flaunt their passage into adulthood earlier. And this means boobs and hips, much sexier than testosterone-fired hairy apes, don’t you think? On average, we actually reach puberty about two years earlier than our male counterparts. Besides, it usually takes boys pretty much the rest of their lives to grow up!
2. PMS is real, and it lets you be real too
Men don’t get it, in more ways than one. But Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is scientifically proven − it’s caused by hormonal fluctuations that take place prior to your period. PMS has up to 150 physical and emotional symptoms, and about 85 per cent of menstruating women experience at least one of them each month. But achy boobs and crappy moods aside, PMS gives you a superpower too: it lets you be yourself! You’re empowered to feel and say things that you may normally suppress, which can be a healthy release.
3. You are a super multitasker
Speaking of hormones, because women have higher levels of oestrogen than our male counterparts, it also means that we are more skilled at juggling various tasks simultaneously. The effect of oestrogen on the brain enhances cognitive function. In particular, in stressed and complex situations, women are more able to stop and assess what’s going on, and handle it better in general.
4. Your body is entitled to more zzzzz…
As a result of that multitasking superpower, however, women need about twenty more minutes of sleep daily than men do. This is simply because the more you use your brain during the day, the more it needs to rest at night to recuperate and prepare for the next day. So no, it’s not just an excuse to buy those cute slinky negligees to lounge around in but we’re not complaining. After all, who’d complain about spending more time wearing sexy underthings in bed?
5. You produce the largest cell in the human body
Men may be physically larger overall, but we beat them hands down on the cellular level. We produce the single largest cell a human body is capable of producing – the ovum (or the egg). It measures about one millimeter in diameter. Oh, and the sperm that men produce to fertilise the ovum with? That’s the tiniest cell in the human body!
6. You have an organ that’s purely for pleasure
Apart from the fact that our bodies have more erogenous zones than men do, there’s only one organ in the human body that’s completely dedicated to sexual pleasure. And only women get to have it – the clitoris! Oh, and unlike its male counterpart, the penis, it doesn’t stop growing. The clit is about seven times the size it was at birth when we reach menopause – maybe that’s why they’re called the golden years!
7. Your Vag is a self-cleaning baby oven
First of all, let’s clarify that the vagina is the birth canal, the internal muscular tube connecting the cervix to the vulva. And the ‘lips’ on the outside that you can actually see and touch is called the vulva. Your vagina is excellent at self-maintenance and hosts good bacteria to keep itself clean. So don’t use perfumes and douches, which can harm this self-cleaning process. If something smells fishy or rotten, then make an appointment with your gynaecologist to check if everything’s a-ok.
8. And its walls are pleated!
The vagina is really quite remarkable. Like an accordion, its walls are pleated so that it can expand and contract when called upon. The walls are touching most of the time, but if something enters it, be it a tampon, during intercourse or well, that beautiful baby that’s about to change your life forever, the walls expand accordingly to accommodate. And then bounce right back!
9. You live longer than the guys
In general, women have a longer lifespan and statistics show that more men than women die from almost every disease. Except when it comes to breast cancer and other female female genital tract cancers…oh no! In fact, while the incidence of cervical cancer has been consistently declining, ovarian and uterine cancers are on the rise. In fact, ovarian cancer is currently the 5th most common cancer among women in Singapore.
According to Dr Chia Yin Nin, Gynaecologist & Oncology Specialist at Gleneagles Hospital, the reason is that “for cervical cancer, we know that it is due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), so we can prevent it (with vaccination)”. However, as uterine and ovarian cancers aren’t caused by HPV, early detection is crucial for successful treatment. And even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV, regular screenings are still necessary.
Ovarian cancer is a silent killer, meaning it has no symptoms until an advanced stage
− Dr Chia Yin Nin, Gynaecologist & Oncology Specialist, Gleneagles Hospital
10. You can fight against female genital tract cancers
Click here if you’d like to learn more about these women killers. To fight against them, the experts at Gleneagles Hospital recommend a two-pronged attack.
✔ ThinPrep® Pap Test
The traditional Pap smear is a simple and effective screening tool to detect changes in cervical cells. However, it has been known to sometimes return a false-positive, which can be very traumatic. The newer ThinPrep Pap test uses liquid-based cytology and has proven to be more sensitive at detecting early signs of abnormality.
✔ HPV DNA Test
But Pap tests alone are not sufficient as they do not detect all cervical abnormalities. Up to one in three cervical cancers occur in women with normal Pap test results. It’s best to combine it with the HPV DNA test that looks for the virus that can cause changes in cervical cells. It detects all cancer-causing types of HPV, including other diseases such as throat cancer.
Recommended screening schedule
|HPV DNA primary screening||For women aged 30 years or older only||Every 5 years|
|Pap Smear screening (conventional or ThinPrep® Pap Test)||For women who are sexually active||Every 3 years|
|Co-testing (HPV DNA Test + either conventional or ThinPrep® Pap Test)||For women aged 30 years or older||Every 5 years|
According to Dr Quek Swee Chong, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, it is important to have your screenings conducted by a trained eye to get an expert diagnosis of your gynaecological health. This is even more crucial if you have experienced any abnormal symptoms, which may lead to something more serious if left untreated. Your first consult with a gynaecologist will help you better understand a woman’s full health spectrum and also offer a personalised risk assessment.
The first consultation with a Gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital is priced at $130*, with additional screening tests available:
- ThinPrep® Pap Test – $25
- HPV DNA Test – $75
- Co-testing (ThinPrep® Pap Test + HPV DNA Test) – $90
At Gleneagles Hospital, there are over 300 multi-disciplinary specialists who understand that a woman’s medical needs are unique due to her biological makeup, and are there to help meet your evolving healthcare needs.
Visit www.gleneagles.com.sg/womenshealth, Call 6812 3788 or WhatsApp 8111 9777 to find out more.