Dr Mini Salunkhe: Will my smoking affect my unborn child?

Here are questions from readers that were addressed by leading obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Mini Salunkhe. The identities of the solution-seekers have been withheld to protect their privacy.

I am a 28-year-old woman and I have been smoking for the past six years. I have given up smoking since the time my husband and I are trying to have a baby. Will this habit of mine have any effect on my unborn child?

Smoking during pregnancy puts both you and your unborn child at risk. Smoking significantly increases the risk of pregnancy complications. Smoking may also increase the risk of miscarriages, still-births, intrauterine growth retardation, pre-term and low birth weight babies, placental problems and birth defects. Hence quitting smoking is the critical first step, if you are trying to get pregnant as it could prevent you from getting pregnant in the first place.

My friend has recently undergone an abortion. She has been miserable since then and has been falling sick quite often, is there any connection between the two and what can be done?

Physical and psychological side effects after an abortion can vary from woman to woman. Although there are very few serious long-lasting side effects, some patients may have prolonged bleeding, abdominal pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, backache, foul-smelling discharge, fever and lowered immunity levels. Negative psychological reactions to abortion are more common than physical complications. After a pregnancy loss, overall health may take a beating. I would suggest taking the help of a senior gynecologist and counselor to prevent these complications.

Dear Doctor, I am 21 and I want to know more about getting a PAP smear done. Is it something every woman should do regardless of age? How do I go about it?

The pap smear test is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. Ideally, you should start getting regular pap tests from the age of 21. You can get a pap smear at most healthcare clinics, including the Southwest Care facility. If three consecutive pap smears are normal, you can then repeat it once in three years. The pap test is usually done between day 10 to 14 of the menstrual cycle. You can schedule an appointment with your gynecologist for the routine pap smear screening.

How can you avoid a vaginal yeast infection?

You can prevent yeast infections by practicing good hygiene, avoid wearing tight or moist clothing, preventing moisture in the folds of the skin, proper diet, regular sleep hours and exercise. It’s advisable to wear cotton undergarments and ensuring the skin folds and joint areas are dry. This will help prevent such infections. It may be prudent to mention that certain perfumes and douches may lead to yeast infections. The use of antibiotics may also lead to yeast infection. Additionally, lowered immunity, medical problems like HIV and Diabetes can also lead to yeast infections. It would be prudent to prevent such conditions by leading a healthy lifestyle. Following a sugar-free diet and regular intake of probiotics in your diet can help prevent such infections.

Thank you, readers, for your queries. I hope I have been able to answer them and clarify your doubts. I would be more than happy to take time off to answer all your questions week after week. You can reach me via editorial@pune365.com

Dr Mini Salunkhe

Dr Mini Salunkhe

Dr Mini Salunkhe is a senior gynaecologist practising in Pune for over a decade. Apart from being a private practitioner, she is a consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist at Inamdar Hospital. Dr Salunkhe addresses reader queries every Friday on Pune365.
Dr Mini Salunkhe