Everyone goes to a lot of doctor’s appointments throughout their lives, and as women we go to one in particular that seems to take up a decent portion of said appointments – the gynecologist.
If you’re lucky, you find one you love on the first try. If not, you’ll go through them until you find someone you’re comfortable with. After all, this person is going to be looking at your vagina as well as feeling all the way up to your cervix with their index finger. The more comfortable you are with your gynecologist, the less awkward the whole process is.
Sometimes, figuring out what questions you should be asking your gynecologist can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first visit with them. I’m here to help ease the process for you with some questions that are commonly asked at nearly every appointment.
1. Is my discharge normal?
While this topic may be uncomfortable to discuss, it is your gynecologist’s job to make sure that your reproductive health is in tip-top shape, and that includes your vaginal discharge. The color, smell, consistency, and volume of vaginal discharge tells a lot about the overall health of your vagina.
There is an assortment of organisms in your vagina that keep its pH level balanced. If those levels go wonky one way or the other, your discharge can be a clear indication of what happened. Your doctor will be able to determine whether you are experiencing normal or abnormal vaginal discharge, and knows how to proceed accordingly.
2. Should I be washing my vagina?
It seems like this would be an astounding yes, but that’s not necessarily the case! Obviously, you should wipe it down whenever you bathe, but do not use any soaps or gels. As stated above, your vagina is able to naturally keep itself clean, but using scented soaps, gels, or douches can actually disturb the balance, creating a path for infections and/or irritation to its sensitive tissues.
3. Are my period symptoms normal?
So many women wonder whether their multitude of PMS and/or period symptoms are normal, and it’s a totally valid question. After all, as most species that are thriving, we are fearful of pain and the unknown. So the question is are these symptoms normal or should I be concerned?
There is a vast list of “normal” symptoms of periods, and you should discuss these with your doctor at every visit. It’s important to track your cycles as well as the symptoms within those cycles in the event that something is happening that may risk your health or your quality of life.
I suggest using an application on your phone to track your whole cycle. Some fan-favorite apps are Flo, Eve by Glow, Clue, Period Tracker, Spot On, and Ovia Fertility. I have been using a tracker for the last eight years and it has made keeping track of the multi facets of my menstrual cycle an absolute breeze.
4. What screenings can I expect at my gynecologist appointment?
Yearly health screenings are vital in prevention and treatment for a variety of diseases, and your gynecologist is able to assist with many of those screenings right in their office. You can expect a Pap smear, which is a swab of your cervical cells to test for abnormalities that may lead to cervical cancer.
You can also expect an internal cervical exam, where the doctor will feel the cervix from inside the vagina while pressing on the uterus to assess the health and position of your cervix.
They will also examine your other reproductive organs, particularly your ovaries and uterus. The last exam you can expect on a routine visit is your breast exam. This is to ensure that you don’t have any lumps or bumps that are detectable via a physical exam.
If any of these tests come back with speculation, your doctor will know what to do in order to proceed.
5. What birth control is best for me?
With all of the methods of birth control on the market now, it is truly very difficult for even the most seasoned of women to ascertain what form of birth control fits best with their body chemistry and their lifestyle.
One woman may prefer to have the benefit of routine they get with taking a hormonal pill, and another woman may prefer not to have to think about their birth control for months to years at a time. So what are your options? Your doctor will be able to fill you in in-depth about what you can expect from every birth control method.
6. Why is sex painful for me? How can I have a better sex life?
Firstly, I know this sounds super intimate, especially considering you may fear how it’ll make you and/or your partner look to your doctor. The cool thing, though, is they don’t care about if either one of you is the cause. They care about making sure you have a fulfilling, comfortable sex life.
When you ask your doctor one or both of these questions, try not to leave out any of the details that come to mind. You are in control of your care, so if you choose to leave out anything, your doctor might miss out on the key component to unlocking the mystery that is a fantastic sex life for yourself.
To be honest, there are loads of questions you can ask your gynecologist. Your doctor is a part of your care team, and as such needs to know the details of your most intimate self. If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask. They work for you. If they’re not working for you, they’re working against you and it’s time to find a new gynecologist.
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