For a long time, the only reasons to see your gynecologist were to try and conceive or for relief from menopause. While those are certainly important reasons, they aren’t the only ones. Your gynecologist may actually be the right person to discuss some other pressing issues or concerns with during your next annual well-woman visit.
At Memphis Obstetrics & Gynecological Association, PC, our first-rate team of physicians is committed to providing the highest quality healthcare for women, from puberty through menopause and everything that may come up in between. No question or concern is too personal, and it is likely more common than you think. Let’s go over some of the reasons you should see a gynecologist.
Reasons to See a Gynecologist
You might be surprised to find out that some of the more “embarrassing” things you wonder about or may be experiencing are actually quite common among all women. Many of them don’t ever talk about it with anyone to get the care they need. But, if nearly half of women are dealing with something similar, there’s no need to feel awkward because your gynecologist has heard it all by this point.
In fact, a gynecologist’s care typically addresses any health issue arising from the uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Women’s breasts also require special care and fall under your MOGA gynecologist’s purview. The range of care is intertwined with many facets of your health, and we are here to give you accurate information without any judgment.
Breast Health and Self-Examinations
Though breast cancer rates are quite low for women under the age of 40, all women should have their breasts checked for lumps, bumps, and changes regularly since early detection is crucial to survival. In addition to showing you how to perform a self-exam correctly, your gynecologist can also give you clues on what to look for and when to be concerned enough to schedule an appointment. Self-examinations are a quick and easy process to incorporate into your daily routine, such as while changing for bed at night or in your morning shower. If you notice any strange lumps or changes during your home exams, that’s a good reason to see your gynecologist.
Your Menstrual Health
Menstrual health is one of the most common reasons we see women. The changes in your cycle are often obvious enough to raise concern and have you scheduling an appointment. During a routine visit, your physician will ask about your menstrual cycle, be sure to mention any changes in the frequency, length, and even any spotting, cramping, or changes in flow that you may have noticed. If you are experiencing painful periods or other pains associated with your cycle, make sure you schedule an appointment with your gynecologist as soon as possible.
Your Medical History
A lot of gynecological issues can be linked to genetics and other health concerns. If you know that there are concerns in your family’s medical history or you may be at a greater risk for certain cancers, it is best to establish a relationship with your gynecologist early to be safe. Getting ahead of your care can literally save your life.
In your medical history discussion, good things to include would be any diseases or conditions you may have currently or previously, including sexually transmitted diseases, any medications you are presently taking, and any allergies you may have, like latex or specific prescriptions. This topic is also the best time to mention your family’s medical history of diseases and conditions, like thyroid disorders, heart conditions, cancers, and diabetes.
Changes and Concerns with Your Vagina
Age and time often cause the most changes, and while many of these changes can be expected, some need to be addressed. If you notice a difference in your vaginal smell that lasts a few days, you may be experiencing a bacterial overgrowth or vaginal infection. This is easily treated, so don’t suffer through odors or itch and see your gynecologist for relief.
Along with smells, changes like bumps or growths can cause a scare. Noticing a growth in your vagina or around your labia can seem worrisome. Not knowing whether it’s just an ingrown hair, a cut from shaving, or is it something more concerning like a dreaded STD. Typically, most bumps you find ‘down there’ will be benign, but it’s essential to have your physician perform an exam when you notice them. It could be just a pimple that will heal without trouble, but it could also be more concerning, like genital warts or herpes. Genital warts can be visible for some time, but herpes lesions can heal over a week or two, making it difficult to diagnose without the outbreak occurring visually.
It is excellent that urinary incontinence care items have become so discreet and easily obtained, but wouldn’t it be better if it were something you didn’t have to worry about in the first place? For many women, childbirth or aging, sometimes both, can bring on some not-so-great side effects like bladder leaks. If you find you urinate when laughing, sneezing, or exercising, it’s worth bringing it up with your gynecologist at your next visit. While it is common, it often can be managed or remedied with the proper treatment, and your doctor can help you determine which will work best for you.
While having a low libido is more common than many women realize, it’s important to address big changes with your gynecologist to discover the cause of your concern. Libido can sometimes be affected by medications you take or may indicate an underlying medical condition.
For other women, though, their libido may be related to the pain or discomfort they feel during intercourse. This pain and discomfort can stem from vaginal dryness, which there are many causes for, to other gynecological concerns like a sexually transmitted infection or even endometriosis. If you are experiencing bleeding after intercourse with your sexual discomfort, it is best to make an appointment with your OB/GYN as soon as possible.
Family planning is one of the most noted reasons women see their gynecologist. Whether you are in to begin the process of trying to conceive, or you are looking into your options to avoid pregnancy, the prospects for birth control are aplenty. Many patients can even find relief from other issues by utilizing the contraceptive that will best benefit their situation.
If you are currently using birth control and begin to notice changes in your body or menstrual cycle that you are uncomfortable with, make sure to bring it up with your physician as it could be an unlikely side effect that can be remedied by changing your dose or contraceptive altogether.
Whatever your reason to see a gynecologist, it’s important to MOGA!
Your doctor should be someone you select because the choice of a provider, and the ongoing relationship that is shared, are unique and very special- just like you. We continue to practice by the belief that preventative care is still the best care. So, even if you don’t feel you have a “reason” to be seen, make sure to schedule and attend your well-woman visit annually to keep your health on track.