Many women fear a trip to the gynecologist. Visiting a gynecologist can be uncomfortable, and certain procedures to treat problems may be painful. However, it is something every woman has to do.
Regular visits to a gynecologist are important for all women, regardless of whether they are sexually active. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls begin seeing a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15.
A gynecologist is a doctor who focuses on women’s reproductive health. They check your body to make sure that your reproductive system is healthy and help you avoid problems in the future. Visiting a gynecologist means you are taking responsibility of your body in new ways.
Pregnancy is the number one reason that prompts a woman to see her gynecologist. However, there are many other issues that women may face that need to be checked by their gynecologist.
Here are some of the reasons why a woman should see her gynecologist.
1. Irregular Periods
Skipping your period once in a while is fine but if you skip your period frequently, it is important to see a gynecologist. It could be one of the first indications of an issue with your reproductive system.
Occasional missed periods are often linked to issues like excessive weight loss or gain, eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, anemia, a strenuous exercise routine, breastfeeding, emotional stress, some kind of illness, too much traveling, use of unsuitable birth control medication and illegal drugs, even asthma and hay fever.
However, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, menopause, or hormonal imbalances can also trigger this problem. So, do see your gynecologist to find out the exact cause.
At your appointment, your gynecologist will first rule out the possibility of pregnancy. If the pregnancy report is negative, other tests will be done. Depending upon the cause, treatment will be planned to correct the problem and prevent it from recurring.
2. Urinary Issues
If you are making trips to the bathroom more often than normal, pay your gynecologist a visit. It can be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
In addition to a strong, persistent urge to urinate, other signs and symptoms of UTI include passing frequent but small amounts of urine, pain or burning sensation during urination, pelvic pain, and cloudy and strong-smelling urine.
Whatever the cause may be for frequent bathroom trips, when diagnosed timely there is plenty you and your gynecologist can do to counteract the problem.
3. Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
It is common for women to experience slight vaginal discharge (from clear to a milky white color) between menstrual cycles. It is part of the body’s process of cleaning out the vagina and cervix. Vaginal discharge increases when you are ovulating, breastfeeding or sexually aroused.
However, if you notice changes in the color, odor and quantity of vaginal discharge, see your gynecologist. Some of the causes of abnormal vaginal discharge are bacterial or yeast infections, sexually transmitted infections, side effects of birth control pills, cervical cancer, and menopause.
4. Irregular Bleeding
If you notice spotting or slight bleeding that is not associated with your period or ovulation, get yourself checked by a gynecologist right away.
Bleeding during or after intercourse can be due to an injury to the uterine lining, inflammation of the cervix, or some other problem.
Irregular vaginal bleeding can also be a sign of uterine polyps, fibroids, infection of the pelvic organs, cervical or uterine cancer.
If you experience any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, you must consult your doctor immediately.
5. Unusually Heavy Periods
If you suddenly experience unusually painful and heavy or prolonged bleeding, do not ignore it. Menstrual bleeding is considered heavy when you have to change sanitary napkins or tampons more often than once every 2 hours.
Some of the causes of heavy periods are a hormonal imbalance, fibroids, polyps, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, thyroid disease and liver or kidney disease. Blood loss due to a heavy period can lead to anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath and many other complications.
Follow the advice of your gynecologist. If appropriate for your condition, you can try blackstrap molasses to help regulate the amount of blood lost during menstruation.
Blackstrap molasses is high iron content aids red blood cell production. Simply add 1 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses to a cup of warm water or milk and drink it once daily.
6. Lumps in the Breasts
You must not ignore any unusual lumps in your breasts or underarm area. They can be a sign of breast cancer, the most common form of cancer among women.
So, get a lump thoroughly checked by a gynecologist, especially if it lasts for 3 weeks or more.
Middle-aged and older women must do monthly breast self-examinations. During the examination, look and feel for any visible lumps, swelling, redness, rashes and any discharge from the nipples. In addition, a health care provider should do a complete breast examination every three years.
7. Vaginal Odor
Strong vaginal odor is a very common problem that prompts a woman to visit her gynecologist. Slight vaginal odor is normal, but a strong odor like a ‘fishy’ smell may indicate a problem. In addition, strong vaginal odor can be very embarrassing.
Vaginal odor can be due to bacterial growth, yeast infections, poor hygiene, hormonal changes and sexually transmitted diseases. If it is due to an infection, you may also experience symptoms like redness, itching, burning and irritation in the vaginal area.
Vaginal odor can be treated or managed once diagnosed by a gynecologist. In the meantime, try to include yogurt in your diet to help fight off infection and restore the normal vaginal pH balance.
8. Excessive Sweating
If you are 40 years or older and you experience sudden excessive sweating without any known trigger, see a gynecologist. It can happen while you are awake or asleep.
Excessive sweating as well as hot flashes can be a sign of perimenopause, the period when a woman moves closer to menopause. Other accompanying signs and symptoms may include irregular periods, vaginal dryness, mood swings and sleep disturbances.
Seeing a gynecologist will help find the underlying cause and the best treatment options.
In addition, you can try apple cider vinegar as a healthy way to beat excessive sweating. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little honey in a glass of water. Drink it twice daily to regulate hormones.
Some Dos and Don’ts for Your Visit to Your Gynecologist
- Do look for a gynecologist in your area who you are comfortable talking to about your problem.
- Do keep track of your monthly cycle and bring the information to your appointment.
- Do come up with questions beforehand.
- Do keep a diary with you about your medical history as well as family history.
- Do remain relaxed before your appointment.
- Don’t be shy talking about any problems with your gynecologist.
- Don’t hide your social habits, sexual activity or any health information.
- Don’t have sex the night before your appointment.
- Don’t use yeast medications or douches 24 hours before your appointment.