When To Call Your Gynecologist
With pelvic pain and skipped periods, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your body could be trying to tell you something.
With the news that insurance companies will now be required to cover preventive health-care measures for women including birth control, HPV screenings, and HIV counseling its easier than ever to schedule regular checkups with your gynecologist.
Prevention is your best defense against future health problems, but you cant always predict when or what types of issues may arise. So how do you know if your symptoms warrant a trip to the doctor? These potentially serious signs are among several that call for a visit, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services .
When to See the Gynecologist: Resources
Experts say females who are sexually active and/or who are over 21 should see their gynecologist yearly for routine checkups and screenings. The sooner a problem is found, the sooner it can be treated.
Always pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, your gynecologist can evaluate the problem and provide treatment to help you get back to feeling your best as soon as possible.
If You Have More Than One Period A Month
Sometimes the problem isn’t no period, it’s having too many. “If you are bleeding twice or more during one menstrual cycle, notice blood after sex, or if your periods stop and start again after several days, it could be a sign of hormonal imbalance, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease or cervical neoplasia,” Shkodzik says. Even if you think what you’re experiencing is just regular spotting after your period, if you’ve noticed that this happens often within a month, it could be telling of a medical condition. It’s important for you to contact your OB/GYN if this happens, especially if you notice this often within your cycle.
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.
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You’re Worried About How You Smell Down There
As you scoot down on the examination table with your legs in stirrups, it’s hard not to wonder and worry about what you smell like, especially if you’ve started to sweat because you’re nervous. “Women are obsessed with how much they’re perspiring when they’re in my office, thinking, ‘Does it smell down there?'”Alyssa Dweck, M.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and coauthor of The Complete A to Z For Your V, tells SELF. “I appreciate it if someone doesn’t come to the office straight out of a CrossFit class or having not showered in four days, but in general I really don’t notice it much.”
Swelling Bumps Or Growths Down There
Noticing a growth in your vagina or around your labia can seem worrisome. Is it an ingrown hair, a pimple, a cut from shaving or possibly something more concerning? Bumps are often benign, but it’s important to have your doctor perform an examination when you feel something. “Genital warts may be visible for some time, but herpes lesions can heal over seven to 14 days, making it important to be seen when the outbreak is occurring,” Lawson says.
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Using Feminine Hygiene Products To Smell Good Down There
Dont even bother grabbing that vaginal wash that promises to make your nether regions smell like daisies and wildflowers. Gynecologists do not recommend douching or using feminine deodorant sprays as they can destroy your vaginas natural bacterial flora and increase your risk for infections. Ditching the douche is one of the main things your vagina wishes it could tell you.
A Complete Guide To Your First Gynecologist Visit
Youve probably heard stories about a first gynecologist visit.
Maybe these were told by well-meaning friends or perhaps you saw these stories on the internet.
We want you to know that some of these stories may not be true. Were here to set the record straight.
Its perfectly normal to be a bit nervous or embarrassed about your first visit to the gynecologist. Thats okay. But we want you to understand that theres no reason to feel anxious.
Well guide you through your OBGYN annual exam so youll know what to expect.
If youre a parent, you may want to bookmark this blog and show it to your daughter to help you discuss her first appointment.
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Wondering If You Can Still Come To Your Gynecology Appointment When Youre On Your Period
Most of the time, yes. If its for your annual exam, sometimes the Pap Smear Test can be inconclusive if youre bleeding heavily, but if its one of the lighter days of your period, you should be fine. We have patients apologize all the time for needing to be examined when theyre on their period. Let us assure you, your bleeding will never shock or bother your gynecologist. We deal with bleeding all day, so please dont feel embarrassed. If you think you might have a vaginal infection, it can be difficult for us to see anything when youre bleeding, so that may be worth rescheduling your visit until your period is done.
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What Can I Expect At My Obgyn Appointment During A Very Heavy Period
But what if my period is very heavy? What if I am soaking through an entire pad in an hour or less? Can I go to the gynecologist on my period? Yes, it is still recommended to keep your appointment, because heavy bleeding can be a symptom of more serious health issues.
However, it may also be a good idea to call your doctor before your visit to get the best recommendation for your specific health situation. Our doctors often see women while they are bleeding heavily. Thus, it is still a good idea to visit your gynecologist to get the best advice and diagnosis.
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What Is Typical Of A Young Girls Menstrual Cycle
In the U.S., 12 and a half is the average age when a girl starts her period. At first, menses are typically irregular and may be heavy for the first few years. Usually, in four to five years, 85 percent of girls have regular or normal periods. But for the remaining 15 percent, menses will stay irregular for the rest of their reproductive lives.
Periods that are irregular, heavy and painful can lead to missed days of school and missed sports activities and social events. Heavy vaginal bleeding can lead to anemia. All of this can really impact a girls life. And if she doesnt want to wear a tampon, she maybe wont swim or do gymnastics or even wear white. Thats where hormonal regulation of menses can be helpful.
Early Late Or Irregular Menstruation
In most cases, a girls menstrual period should begin 3 years after the onset of puberty, between ages 12 and 13. If your daughters first period doesnt fall into this window, you may want to have her checked out by a gynecologist for a hormone imbalance, advises Dr. Young.
It may also be a good idea to see a gynecologist if her periods remain irregular after more than a year or two.
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S That Can Stop Your Period Long
If you wish to explore the idea of stopping your period long-term, you have options. At the very least, birth control can minimize the frequency of periods you have a year.
- Intrauterine devices may take three to six months to stop your period altogether, but after that, they can remain effective for anywhere from three to 10 years depending on the type.
- Birth control implants like Nexplanon work for up to three years and provide lighter periods or may stop them altogether depending on the person.
- Endometrial ablation procedure: This procedure is usually only recommended for people with very heavy, prolonged periods who are at risk of anemia and shouldn’t be considered if you are planning to get pregnant at any point in the future.
What Can Cause Pelvic Pain In Girls
Pelvic pain is common in adolescent girls. Usually, it is related to menstrual cramps, though many other conditions can cause it, including endometriosis, a painful disease in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus.
Constipation or bladder problems can present as pelvic pain, so I also ask patients about bowel habits and urinary symptoms. Teenagers often dont get enough fiber in their diet or drink enough water. If constipation is an issue, we discuss dietary changes and if that doesnt work, I recommend stool softeners or laxatives. If needed, I will suggest they see a pediatric urologist or pediatric gastroenterologist.
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What Type Of Exams Will I Need To Have
Well give you a general physical exam. This means well check your blood pressure, your heart rate, your weight and we may need to take some blood for a blood test. This will help us see if you have diseases such as prediabetes.
If you are having sex, we may give you a test for sexually transmitted infections. We know it may be difficult to talk with us about sex, but thats a part of our job.
You should never be embarrassed to talk to us. In fact, your sexual health is very important.
Remember that we talk with hundreds of women every year about their sex lives. Theres no reason to be worried. We understand.
Well also do an external genital exam. This means well look at the area around your vaginacalled your vulva.
We may also perform a bimanual exam. During this exam, well place two lubricated fingers into your vagina. With the other hand, well check your abdomen. This enables us to feel your uterus and ovaries. Its a way we can check for growths or cysts.
While this may be uncomfortable, it shouldnt hurt. If youre worried about it, please talk to us.
We want to answer all your questions. Its important to us that your first gynecological appointment is a positive experience.
You Have Piercings Or Tattoos Down There
Sometimes women will say: I dont want to be examined because I have a piercing or tattoo down there, says Dr. Dweck. But were not here to judge we just want to make sure youre caring for things properly. Having a piercing or tattoo on your nether regions can come with risks like infection or an allergic reaction, so its important to be open with your doc and let them examine you.
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There’s Nothing Sexual To Your Gynecologist About Seeing You Naked
After a while, seeing new people naked isn’t as exciting as it sounds. Most OB-GYNs are not titillated by the sight of yet another body. “Over time, that view becomes very clinical rather than sexual. I know to many patients, they don’t feel a difference, but I actually get a bit weirded out if people just whip off all their clothes in front of me,” says one doctor.
Urinary Or Fecal Leakage
Experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence can be very stressful and take a toll on your quality of life. Many women will experience these symptoms after childbirth, particularly if they had a large baby or a vaginal delivery requiring forceps or a vacuum. When women enter menopause, these symptoms may worsen. Lawson says: “Depending on the nature of the incontinence, there may be medical or surgical management options available. By talking with your gynecologist, she or he can determine the proper treatment protocols and refer you to a pelvic floor disorder specialist if necessary.”
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Drink Some Water Before You Show Up Youre Going To Pee In A Cup
You will need to pee in a cup during your gynecologic exam. When you pee in a cup the gynecologist is able to perform a dipstick test of your urine, Dr. Ross says. This simple office test can check to see if you have anything you may be unaware of happening in your body. Finding bacteria can suggest a bladder infection or finding sugar may suggest you have diabetes.
When You Dont Tell Us What Meds You Take
You may not think your other medications matter to your ob-gynafter all, youre just going in for a Pap smear or to renew your birth control prescription. But your doctor needs to hear it because your drug regimen could affect your care. For example, if she knows you take a medication for blood pressure or an acne drug with high risks of birth defects, that could affect what type of birth control she recommends. To help her, write down the name and dosage of every drug and supplement you regularly take before your next visit. Medication is on our list of things you should never lie to your doctor about.
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If It Burns When You Pee
If you ever feel an uncomfortable burning or stinging sensation when you urinate, it could be an indication of a health problem. “Trouble urinating, a burning sensation while urinating, or more frequent urination can all be potential symptoms of a urinary tract infection or ‘UTI’ in which bacteria has entered the urine,” Luk says. She explains that if you do have a UTI, your best bet is having your doctor prescribe you antibiotics. And if the burning is from a yeast-infection instead, you can buy over-the-counter medication. She says, “Both of these conditions are typically resolved between one day and one week, but without a visit to the gynecologist you may not be able to determine your diagnosis!”