For some reason, the notion that you should only see your OB/GYN when you are pregnant or going through menopause took hold. While those are definitely the big topics in obstetrics and gynecology, your OB/GYN may actually be the right person to discuss some other pressing issues or concerns with during your next annual well-woman visit.
Your physician uses no standardized checklist during your well-woman annual exam since every woman’s needs are different, and these needs change with varying stages of your life. They will check your vitals like your blood pressure, heart, rate, and such. Any follow-up discussions from your previous appointment will be discussed, and you will likely be asked if you have any concerns or things worth noting, but what is worth noting?
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 topics we feel you should discuss with your OB/GYN.
Seven Topics You Should Discuss with your OB/GYN
When some of the top women’s health issues Googled these days are- “what is endometriosis,” “Is my vaginal discharge normal,” and “symptoms of ovarian cancer,” it’s easy to say many women face the same problems every day, and don’t ever get around to asking their actual physician because of embarrassment. But, if nearly half of women are dealing with something similar, there’s no need to feel awkward because your OB/GYN 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.
Your Medical History
It only makes sense that your reproductive system affects the rest of your body’s functioning, so discussing your complete medical history will give your physician a better understanding of what you are trying to convey. Even if you think the information is already in your chart, it may have been overlooked or not recorded previously. Hence, it helps to have a reminder, especially if it pertains to something you are currently being seen for at your visit.
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 medical history of diseases and conditions, like thyroid disorders, heart conditions, cancers, and diabetes.
Your Menstrual Health
While you are discussing your medical health, make sure to include the date of your last Pap smear and whether or not it was deemed normal. During your 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, this is also a great time to bring it up and discuss options for treatment or relief.
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 let the discomfort of discussing your vaginal odor keep you from the relief you need.
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 OB/GYN. 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.
Family planning is one of the most noted discussions women have with their OB/GYN. 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.
While having a low libido is more common than many women realize, it’s important to speak with your OB/GYN 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.
Breast Health and Self-Examinations
Though breast cancer rates are quite low, around 5%, for women under the age of 40, all women should check their breasts 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 OB/GYN 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.
No question or concern is insignificant with MOGA!
We know life gets busy, and keeping up with all the information you want to share with your physician to be thorough can be overwhelming. We recommend preparing for your visit by taking down some notes that you want to touch on and any questions you want to ask and bringing them with you to your appointment. Creating a note in your phone can ensure you have it when you need it at your next well-woman visit.
Our practice is dedicated solely to a woman’s care- helping her maintain good health during puberty, through pregnancy, menopause, and throughout later life. We continue to practice by the belief that preventative care is still the best care. 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. You can be sure that at MOGA, we will address all of your concerns with compassion, understanding, and kindness.