women

It’s a good idea to learn first aid. Most importantly, you need to know how you can minimize your risks by taking the following precautions.

Avoiding bites

·         Use an insect repellent with diethyltoluamide (DEET).This can be sprayed on exposed skin and lasts several hours. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent 20 minutes later.

·         Wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts when insects are biting.

·         Use nets or stay in screened or air-conditioned accommodation.

·         If you are travelling to a high-risk area, consider using clothing and gear treated with permethrin (mosquito repellent). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear.

Be aware

Be mindful of local customs and respect the rules.

·         The way you dress and behave may be regarded as offensive and/or indecent in many parts of the world. Find out what is acceptable in the countries you plan to visit. Respect local cultures and customs, dress appropriately and ask permission before taking photos of people.

·         If travelling alone, ensure someone is always aware of your itinerary.

·         Do not make yourself an obvious target for criminals. Avoid displaying money and valuables.

Description: Do not make yourself an obvious target for criminals.

Do not make yourself an obvious target for criminals.

Common concerns

Even if you are not travelling too far, there are some health concerns you are likely to face.

Menstruation

If you are still menstruating and will be away for an extended period, travel may affect your cycle.

If you are not on the contraceptive pill you may experience irregular bleeding due to hormonal changes as a result of time zone changes or disrupted routine. This usually settles down.

Irregular bleeding could also indicate pregnancy. If there is any chance you may be pregnant, you should have a pregnancy test as soon as possible.

What you can do

Tampons and sanitary pads can be difficult to obtain in some countries. Make sure you pack enough products for your trip.

If you prefer not to menstruate while travelling, there is the option of taking the oral contraceptive pill continuously. A hormonal injection might be another option. Talk to your doctor.

Description: If you are not on the contraceptive pill you may experience irregular bleeding due to hormonal changes as a result of time zone changes or disrupted routine.

If you are not on the contraceptive pill you may experience irregular bleeding due to hormonal changes as a result of time zone changes or disrupted routine.

Thrush

Candida infection or vaginal thrush is common in hot, humid environments. Wearing tight clothing and synthetic materials can exacerbate the problem. Antibiotics, including the anti-malarial doxycycline also predispose you to thrush.

What you can do

Wearing cotton underwear may help prevent thrush. Medication (peccaries and cream) for the treatment of thrush is not always available so it might be worth packing some in your medical kit so you can treat promptly.

Cystitis/urinary tract infection

Many women experience cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) or urinary tract infections when travelling. These infections are most often caused by bacteria normally found in your colon and rectum.

What you can do

As soon as you suspect you might have cystitis (symptoms include an urgent need to urinate more frequently, plus urination may be painful) increase your fluid intake – each time you empty your bladder you wash out some of the bacteria causing the infection. Simple painkillers and drinking mixtures that change the acidity of your urine can be helpful. If these measures don’t do the trick in 24 hours, you’ll need to seek medical advice.

Maintaining good personal hygiene and wearing loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear can help prevent these infections.

Description: Wearing loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear can help prevent these infections.

Wearing loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear can help prevent these infections.

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