You’re sitting on the exam table waiting for your gynecologist, trying to make yourself comfortable. You look around the room and notice posters of the reproductive system. Finally, your gynecologist enters the room. Every woman feels different when they hear the door open and the exam begins. After you go through all of your doctor’s questions, she will ask you if you have any questions for her. You probably had 50 questions running through your head on the drive over, but now you can’t think of any! You shrug, and say “none that I can think of.” Nice cover up.
Regardless of whether you are anxious to get through the visit or have an entire laundry list of questions to address, it is easy to become overwhelmed when your doctor starts to ask you questions about your health. Still, it’s essential to be completely open with your gynecologist. If there’s something you would really like to ask, don’t just make a mental note of it – write it down.
Gynecological exams are understandably awkward for many women, but remember your doctor is a professional who has seen hundreds of other patients who had the same thoughts you’ve been having. Your gynecologist should be the one person you feel confident coming to with intimate questions. If you are not comfortable with your current gynecologist for whatever reason, please request a different doctor. Honest communication is too important to your health!
Women’s health is important! It shouldn’t be put on the backburner. We’ve compiled a list of 5 questions you should be asking your gynecologist:
- How do I perform a proper self-breast exam?
How often do you check your breasts? Probably not very often, but you’re not alone – most of us women don’t check our breasts regularly. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Depending on your age, you might be visiting your gynecologist once every three to five years. That’s quite some time to wait to get your breasts looked at. Ask your doctor to demonstrate how to do a self-exam. Your gynecologist should discuss any particular issues you might have and guide you in what to feel for. If you ever notice something that doesn’t seem right, you’ll know to schedule an appointment before it’s too late. Ask how often you should perform a self-exam, and make it part of your routine.
- What’s normal when it comes to vaginal discharge?
If your discharge is clear or milky, that is completely normal. Discharge is part of your body’s “housekeeping” routine and helps flush out old cells from your system. Discharge usually happens throughout the month in a response to hormones or while you are ovulating. If your discharge doesn’t look normal, tell your doctor. It is not normal to experience heavy or discolored discharge. You might have an infection like bacterial vaginosis, Trichomoniasis, or a yeast infection.
- What are my birth control options?
Even if you’re already on the pill, the birth control pill that you are taking isn’t your only option. If you aren’t having any problems with your menstrual cycle and are comfortable with popping the pill daily, then you stay committed to your birth control. If you either don’t like the birth control they’re on aren’t on any form of birth control, talk to your doctor about other options that are available.
Remember, birth control isn’t only used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control is can help provide relief for women who experience heavy, painful, long-lasting periods. There are so many different forms of birth control: implants, patches, pills, shots, sponges, vaginal rings, IUDs, and of course, condoms. Consult with your gynecologist, and find out which one is right for you.
- Why is sex painful sometimes?
Women experience pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. It could be because of an infection, insufficient lubrication (a side-effect from certain medications or from lack of foreplay), conditions like endometriosis, and thinning of the vaginal walls due to hormonal changes during menopause. If it hurts to have sex because of vaginal dryness, try using water-based lubricants. If you still experience pain, talk with your gynecologist to find a treatment.
- What kind of bumps are normal?
Have you ever noticed a bump in or around your vagina? Before you look something up on the internet and misdiagnose yourself, consult your doctor to learn what’s normal and what you should be worried about. Most bumps go away on their own, but some may require surgery. If you’ve had a weird bump, describe it to your doctor to learn what it is and how it might have shown up. Remember, be open with your gynecologist – no matter how uncomfortable the topic might be.
If you are looking for a gynecologist, look no further than the Institute for Women’s Health. We are San Antonio’s largest OB/GYN and fertility practice with eight convenient locations throughout the city. Check out our website to learn more about our services, and visit one of our women’s health clinics today!