HCM CITY (VNS)— To Thi Lan Huong, 24, had always felt shy and afraid about gynaecological examinations.
She was also completely ignorant about it. She did not even know if she could have such an examination before getting married. Her mind was full of unanswered questions about it.
"In my mind, the examination was something terrible. My company organised periodical health checkups including gynaecological examinations for its employees at hospitals, but I always refused the latter."
Apart from her ignorance and fears, she also thought the examination was neither important nor necessary.
However, Huong changed her mind last year, when her company co-operated with the city's Population and Family Planning Division to provide gynaecological advice and counseling on reproductive health.
Adequate counseling on this issue from doctors with the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Clinic helped her overcome her shyness and encouraged her to have an examination, Huong revealed.
She was therefore able to find out that she had a gynaecological infection in the beginning stage that could be treated easily.
Many women of reproductive age are in the same boat of ignorance as Huong regarding gynaecological examinations in particular and reproductive health in general, said Dr Nguyen Thanh Dung, head of the clinic.
Ngo Thi My Thi, deputy head of the trade union at Lac Ty Footwear Company in Binh Tan District, said that she and her colleagues have not had any time to have the examinations done at hospitals.
And the examination was costly, she said.
Nearly 220,000 female employees work in industrial and export processing parks in the city, Dung said, adding that 46 per cent of these suffer from gynaecological diseases but are not aware of it.
Most of them have live-in relationships before getting married, she said.
But 70 per cent of female workers lack knowledge on reproductive health issues that is necessary for both live-in relationships and marriage, she added.
The lack of such knowledge is the main reason behind the high rate of abortions in the city, she said.
It is very important to equip young people with basic reproductive health knowledge in order to protect their health, Dung said.
To provide this knowledge to female workers and students, the city People's Committee approved the establishment of the reproductive health and family planning clinic in 2011, said To Thi Kim Hoa, deputy head of the city's Department of Health.
The clinic aims to help poor female workers and students as well as women from poor families as well as those living near the poverty line who could not afford gynaecological examinations and treatment, Hoa said.
Since the clinic was established, more than 43,000 women have so far been provided with free examinations, treatment and guidance on reproductive health care, she added. — VNS