Things You Should Always Discuss With Your Gynecologist
When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, it can be hard to know what’s “normal” and what may be a sign of a potential health problem. Even if you feel embarrassed about certain issues, your gynecologist has seen and heard it all and is there to help you, not to pass judgment.
Here are seven things you should always discuss with your gynecologist:
How Are Severe Menstrual Cramps Treated
When the usual home remedies to relieve period cramps are no match for your cramps, an OB-GYN can help you find relief from the pain. The most common treatments for severe menstrual cramps are:
- Hormonal birth control methods If your menstrual cramps are caused by a hormone imbalance, your doctor might recommend using a hormonal birth control. In addition to preventing pregnancy, taking hormonal birth control can help correct the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body, which effects the thickness of the uterine lining. Thinning the uterine lining can reduce prostaglandin and bring pain relief. Some birth control methods can cause women to skip their periods, eliminating cramps altogether.
- Prescription medication When over-the-counter medicines dont work, your doctor might prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . These medicines are much stronger than similar ones youll find over-the-counter. They can significantly reduce prostaglandins in your uterus, which might thin the uterine lining and alleviate cramps. Prescription medication is used when a woman experiences severe, chronic cramps.
What Does A Gynecologist Do On Your First Visit
Sometimes, on the first visit, we just want to talk to you about your health and what to expect at future appointments. Often, this does not involve a pelvic exam.
But if you have health problemssuch as very painful or heavy periods you may need certain tests.
One thing is for sure: well ask a lot of questions! This is how we get to know you so we can help you. You may find a few of these questions embarrassing or hard to talk about. Well discuss your period or whether or not youre having sex. Being honest is important.
Dont worry about your parent being in the room with you. We typically ask parents to wait outside for at least part of the time while were asking you these personal questions.
Well make sure the information remains confidentialbut we encourage you to discuss these health issues with your parent.
It will help us if you can tell us the date of your last period and how old you were when you had your first period. We may also ask questions such as:
- Do you have irregular periods?
- How bad are your period cramps?
- Do you have any uncomfortable itching?
- Are you having sex?
- If you are having sex, do you use condoms? Are you using another form of birth control?
It may surprise you to know that gynecologists care about your whole healthnot just whats going on down there. If youre depressed, have difficulty losing weight or have sleep problems, tell us about it!
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When A Hysterectomy Is Needed
It was a hysterectomy that eventually improved Beth’s endometriosis. Her doctor gave her two options: a “D and C” or a hysterectomy.
Harris chose the “D and C” first. But when it didn’t help much, she consulted with her doctor and decided to go ahead with the hysterectomy. The results? “My lifestyle improved drastically, my physical strength went up, and I felt back to normal.”
Not all women recover easily from a hysterectomy, however. A woman should make the decision only after a thorough discussion with her doctor.
Fortunately, most menstrual-bleeding abnormalities are the result of benign conditions, says Roberson, and can be treated without surgery.
Our Gynecologists And Obgyn Providers Are Here For You
At Madison Womens Health, were committed to treating you as the WHOLE person you are. We want to help you be the happiest, healthiest version of you that you can be! Dont hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about how we can help you.
Dr. Dickmeyer has been providing healthcare for women in the Madison area since 1998 and is a founding member of Madison Womens Health. Her specialties include minimally invasive surgical techniques, high and low risk obstetrics, pelvic floor disorders and postmenopausal medicine.
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When You Notice Changes In Your Menstrual Cycle
Changes in your menstrual cycle are your bodys way of communicating to you that there is a problem. If you should suddenly stop getting your regular regularly or if you notice that the dates of your period are starting to change from month to month, check with your provider as soon as you can. Often the first sign of pregnancy is that your period has not come.
Getting prenatal care as early into your pregnancy is critical to having a healthy baby. Fluctuations and changes in your period could also signal a condition that requires monitoring or treatment.
How Do I Know If My Menstrual Cramps Are Normal
Menstrual cramps feel a little different to every woman. They can feel like a constant dull ache, occasional shooting pains or anything in between. Typically, women feel cramps in the lower stomach but they can also affect the groin, thighs and lower back.
Each woman experiences unique menstruation symptoms and theres no true normal. Some women might have cramps during every period. Some might notice that their cramps lessen with age. Others might never experience period cramps. But up to 20 percent of women experience painful cramps, or whats known medically as dysmenorrhea, making it difficult to enjoy their daily activities. Still, many women are afraid to speak to their doctor about their cramps.
Theres no reason to stay quiet about your cramps. Our OB-GYNs are here to listen to your concerns without judgement and help find a way to make your periods as painless as possible.
If youre not sure whether medical treatment is needed to help with your cramps, just ask us! During your next appointment, talk to your doctor about:
- The level of pain cramps cause you
- How long your cramps last
- The average length of your cycle
- How much you bleed during your period
- Other things you may have noticed, like spotting or pain outside your period
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Don’t Worry About Grooming
And the same is true for grooming. Doctors have literally seen it all, so if you forget to clean up before your appointment, don’t sweat it. “We really don’t care if you wax or shave your legs,” Dr. Ghodsi says. “Same with genital grooming.” You can, however, shave, shower, or trim if it would make you feel better during your appointment.
Other Causes Of Bleeding Irregularities
Stress and lifestyle changes Stress and lifestyle changes, such as gaining or losing weight, dieting, changing exercise routines, traveling, illness and other disruptions to your normal daily routine can impact your menstrual cycle and cause irregularities.
Birth control Going on or off birth control pills can affect your menstruation. Some women may experience irregular periods or miss periods for up to six months after stopping birth control pills. Other forms of birth control, such as IUDs, can cause period irregularities or cause your period to stop. Birth control pills that only contain progestin may cause bleeding between periods.
Medications Some anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants , hormone medications or steroids can affect menstrual bleeding.
Hormone imbalances An excess of estrogen and progesterone can cause heavy bleeding. This is most common for girls in the first year or so of having her first period and for women nearing menopause.
Uterine polyps or fibroids Uterine polyps are small growths in the lining of the uterus, while fibroids are tumors that attach to the wall of the uterus. Both are usually benign but can cause heavy bleeding and pain during periods.
Endometriosis Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow outside the uterus, sometimes growing on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines or other digestive organs. This condition can cause painful bleeding, cramps and painful intercourse.
Read Also: Why Am I Still Having My Period At 54
Can You Get A Pelvic Exam When You Have Your Period
can you still get a pelvic exam at planned paernthood if u are on you period?
Yes, its totally okay to get a pelvic exam when youre on your period. But most nurses and doctors would rather do your pelvic exam on a non-period day when youre not bleeding, or at least not bleeding heavily. Thats because menstrual fluid can affect the results of some lab tests. But if you have questions about your menstrual fluid or another issue with your period that you want your nurse or doctor to take a look at, go ahead and schedule your pelvic exam during your period.
You Cancel Because Of Your Period
All the ob-gyns we spoke to said the same thing: Dont cancel your appointment because of your period. Newer Pap smear techniques allow doctors to get accurate results even when its that time of the month, explains Dr. Jacoby, MD. “Remember, Im an obstetrician I help women give birth. Ive seen a fair share of blood,” she says. “I prefer my patients keep their appointments.” If youre experiencing heavy bleeding and are concerned about it, it actually makes sense for your doctor to see you then to see if there are clues she can find as to why. However, in extremely rare situations, if your flow is exceptionally heavy, Dr. Lebowitz suggests you reschedule, since the lab may make your doctor repeat the Pap.
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When You Experience Pain Or Discomfort
Vaginal discomfort can signal urinary tract, bacterial or yeast infections. It can also be a sign of having contracted a sexually transmitted disease. If you notice vaginal itching, burning, or pain, you should consult with your doctor to manage and treat your condition. While yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter treatments, your first experience with the condition warrants a gynecologists visit.
Tend To Some Intimate Hygiene And Avoid Douching
Its normal to want to feel confident and comfortable when visiting a health care provider such as a gynecologist.
Some people go overboard with their intimate hygiene before the appointment, and excessive thoroughness can adversely affect the examination and Pap smear test results.
During the exam, the health care provider pays attention to the nature, color, smell, and amount of vaginal discharge, among other things.
Changes in these parameters can be indicative of a health issue.
Douching with mixtures of fluids, soaps, intimate hygiene gels, antibacterial soap, or other products can also affect the vaginal pH and distort test results. Gynecologists dont recommend douching at all because it can disrupt the normal balance of vaginal flora and its natural acidity.
Instead, before a pelvic exam, it is recommended to rinse or wash the vagina with just warm water.
Also, make sure to avoid using any vaginal creams or foams for 48 hours prior to the exam.
Is it still possible to have a pelvic exam while on your period?
In some cases, menstrual blood in the vagina makes it difficult to examine the internal organs.
Many gynecologists believe that changes occurring in the body during menstruation can also distort Pap smear test results .
However, health care providers recommend coming in for a pelvic exam during menstruation specifically if the flow has become too heavy or a period has come unexpectedly.
Also Check: Why Is My Period So Light This Month
Doctors Do Sometimes Find Their Patients Attractive
While doctors may find themselves attracted to their patients, don’t expect that you’ll be slipped a phone number following your appointment. “It’s not too difficult to stay focused, especially when you know one unprofessional slip-up could cost you your career. If anything, having an attractive patient makes you focus even more because you are so conscious of yourself,” says one male OB-GYN. Adds another, “There is NOTHING erotic about the job. It seriously just turns into a ‘do what we need to do then move on to the next one.'”
Your First Gynecologist Visit: 10 Things To Expect
There comes a time in every person with a vaginas life that they must start seeing an ob-gyn. I went for my first gynecologist visit after I got my first period, and she just acted like the blood coming out of my vagina was normal, so I did too. When I got to college, I had a few friends claim to be best friends with their gyno. Complete honesty without shame? Sign me up. Talking to your gyno about things like vaginal discharge might seem odd if youre not used to talking about that stuff, but your ob-gyns job is to make you feel comfortable about the uncomfortable. Got a question about a new smell? Ask it.
Before you make your first appointment, we found out exactly what you should know before your first gyno visit by talking to Sherry Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and womens health expert at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and Antonio Pizarro, M.D., a board-certified gynecologist in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Below are 10 more things every person should know before going to the gyno.
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You May Be Worried That Getting A Gyno Exam During Your Period Could Compromise Your Test Resultsor That It’s Just Beyond Gross For Your Doctor Here’s The Real Deal
It used to be that women were warned against visiting their gynecologist during their monthly menstrual cycle, but a lot has changed over the years, and now were encouraged to keep our gyno appointments even if Aunt Flo arrives unexpectedly.
No one should cancel their gynecologist appointment because of their period, says Nancy McBride, MD, a gynecologist and clinical assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. In older forms of pap testing, nearly 25 percent of patients wouldnt get accurate pap smear results because it was affected by blood, and patients would have to undergo testing again, but thats no longer the case.
For women who are extra crampy and cranky during their time of the month or are just really disturbed by the idea, its okay to cancel in those cases, Dr. McBride says. But in some instances, having your period during your visit can actually be helpful for diagnosing period-related issues or determine if you have the period flu. If any of your symptoms are new or worseningyoure bleeding very heavily all of a sudden, for example, or your period is lasting more than 30 daysit could be beneficial to visit your gynecologist while they are occurring.
Whats more, women who are interested in an intrauterine device may be advised by their gynecologist to schedule a visit during their period, as the cervix is more naturally open, making the insertion procedure easier.