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19 October 2022

Gynaecology and the beauty of life

By Dr. Alex Ooi

Stem cell technology and applications are advancing rapidly, and their storage is insurance in the sense that you hope to never need their potential life-giving benefits. However, the practical reality of progenitor cells' ability to correct a disease is a stark reminder of how fragile human creation is and how much we take our bodies for granted when they are in good health.

When I was asked to write an article, I thought about my work experiences and decided to do something simple and not academic for a change. I chose to write about appreciating the beauty that comes from nature and life.

My pursuit of a career resulted in that career becoming a part of my life, and I'm still loving every minute of it more than 30 years later. Managing patients' problems, as well as interactions with them and their relatives who accompany them on visits, have both served as an inspiration and a source of a lifestyle philosophy.

Sleepless nights while delivering a baby, performing caesareans or major pelvic surgeries can be stressful, but what in life isn't? Stress is necessary for life and gives it meaning. Patients who embrace and use it to achieve positive outcomes handle their problems much better. Those who seek a “stress-free life” are trying to achieve an unattainable goal, which often delays illness recovery. Some people find simple tasks to be very stressful, while others find them to be very easy. Positivity prevails when the latter attitude is adopted.

In the course of healing illnesses and managing difficult transitions, I sense that many patients also want to look and feel good. As a result, I began incorporating simple life-improvement protocols for both physical and mental wellbeing. My interest in keyhole surgery led me to expand my services to include liposuction or fat transfer — a natural extension of the main surgical discipline that involves working through small openings for a major outcome.

The oft-heard adage “age is just a number” is a good one to live by. Patients who take action to manage their hot flushes, tissue laxity, loss of libido, wrinkles, pigmentation, aches and pains, hair loss, fat in unwanted places, and other non-health issues are much better off. Patients who complain about reaching 50, 60, or even 40 and do nothing to resolve the issues appear to be stuck in dissatisfaction. Those who have realistic expectations and are aware that any medical and lifestyle advances made are only to postpone the inevitable effects of ageing (which is a gain in and of itself), are happier in life.

This one life we have, while full of dangers and problems, is also full of joy and rewards. There's no need to push the boundaries of indulgence in order to keep up with the Joneses. The needs for living a full life are simple, easily attained, and readily enjoyed by maintaining a positive attitude and being grateful for the many mercies we receive from moment to moment. Talking about “needs” leads me to the other two ingredients of youthfulness.

Regular exercise

Patients who know that a car needs its cylinders greased, tyres inflated, and tank filled can live a fuller life with less illness by engaging in regular, effective exercise. This is vital as we age. My workout consists of cross-training, stretching, and crunches in the gym. Choose one that works for you and make time for exercise every day. Not only is it good for your health, but it will also make you feel (by releasing endorphins) and look good. Even my younger patients who don't work out have a harder time giving birth or going through major surgery. Furthermore, these patients are frequently overweight, which presents its own set of challenges. The body isn't able to handle these stresses as well as it used to, and this is even worse for older patients. As we age, we become less active and use less energy, so we need to exercise more.

Eating well

When it comes to eating well, it's not about how rich or expensive the food is, but about choosing natural foods with fewer calories and fat. This doesn't imply a lack of variety, as there is a wide range of good food available. It can be hard to start and keep up, but once you do, you'll get to be healthier and look younger. Many patients who do well also consider taking supplements and avoiding medications and vitamins. And, of course, quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake. Maintain a positive attitude, exercise regularly, and eat healthily. These, along with managing one's disposition and self-image, will go a long way toward preventing illness and hastening recovery.