Your Top Questions for the Gynecologist, Answered
Speaking up about the health of the reproductive parts of your body, even with a licensed medical practitioner, can be intimidating. However, it’s important to remember that anything abnormal you notice or any concerns you have should be brought to your gynecologist straight away.
Gynecologists see all kinds of reproductive issues every day, so being able to bring your questions, no matter how awkward it may feel, to your doctor is imperative if you want to maintain good health. To help, we’ve listed below some of the top questions to ask the gynecologist.
Question 1: What is a normal discharge?
This topic gets a high volume of search in Google, so a lot of people are wanting to know, but are maybe too shy to ask. Your discharge varies as your body moves through its monthly cycle and your hormone levels fluctuate. Discharge is completely normal and is the vagina’s way of cleaning out any unwanted particles and guarding against infection.
The discharge will typically be very light just after your period has ended, and will have a consistency closer to a liquid. Then as the month progresses, your discharge will become more slippery and viscous as you approach your next period.
If your discharge changes color significantly, or if you begin to smell a foul odor, be sure to tell your gynecologist and schedule an appointment if you notice this.
Question 2: What if there is an unusual smell?
If you notice a strange smell coming from your nether region, you could have contracted bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common vaginal infection causing odor. Some other common causes of vaginal odor are:
- Lack of proper hygiene
- Vaginitis: When there is an imbalance or change in vaginal bacteria.
- A forgotten tampon or menstrual cup left in place for days
- Yeast infection: A fungal infection occurring in the vagina.
- Trichomoniasis: A sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite.
- Rectovaginal fistula: When there is an opening between the rectum and vagina.
- Cervical cancer
- Vaginal cancer
Question 3: I’ve noticed a painful bump, should I be worried?
Painful bumps in or near your groin are not at all uncommon; however, it is important that you pay attention to the type of bump that you have. If you think it is something serious, then consult with your gynecologist right away. Painful lumps and bumps can be a number of things ranging from temporary and harmless to very serious. Here are the common types of bumps in order of severity:
- Small pimple or ingrown hair
- Vaginal cysts
- Vaginal inclusion cyst
- Gartner’s duct cyst
- Bartholin’s cyst
- Fordyce spots
- Vaginal skin tags
- Lichen Sclerosus
- Genital warts
- Genital herpes
- Vulvar cancer (this is extremely rare)
Question 4: Can I have sex during pregnancy?
Sex during pregnancy is safe for most women at all trimesters in the pregnancy. Miscarriage cannot happen from sexual penetration, as the amniotic fluid and uterine muscles surrounding the baby help protect it. Speak to your gynecologist about safe sex during pregnancy. In special cases, it may not be safe to have sex while pregnant if:
- You are pregnant with multiples, which can come with specific complications on a case-by-case basis.
- You have previously suffered a miscarriage or are determined to be at high risk for a miscarriage.
- Your cervix opens too early during pregnancy. Also known as incompetent cervix.
- Your placenta sits very low, which could cause severe bleeding and other pregnancy complications. Also known as placenta previa.
- The partner has a sexually transmitted disease.
At the end of the day, you should talk to your doctor about whether you should abstain from sexual activity during pregnancy and what options, if any, are okay during a high-risk pregnancy.
Question 5: Can I have sex during my period?
Having intercourse while on your period is not only safe, but it can bring many benefits such as:
- Relief from cramps
- Shortening of your period.
- Increased libido
- Natural lubrication
The main drawback of having sex while on your period is the mess it can create, which of course is manageable, or if your partner is squeamish. The main instance in which you should proceed with caution is the potential of contracting STIs like hepatitis or HIV which spread through the blood.
Also, before deciding to have sex while you’re menstruating, be sure that you remove any tampons or other items used to absorb blood, as leaving them in during sex can cause serious complications. Speak with your partner as well about how comfortable you both feel.
Question 6: What can I do if my period is consistently heavy?
If you experience consistently heavy bleeding or prolonged bleeding, you may have Menorraghia, although a substantial amount of bleeding must take place for that to be the diagnosis. Things that can help with heavy bleeding are:
- Taking iron supplements (especially if you are anemic).
- Going on birth control to regulate hormone imbalances.
- Taking ibuprofen/Advil (consult your doctor first).
- Starting hormone therapy in the form of progesterone or estrogen.
The best thing to do if you think you have unusually heavy bleeding during your periods is to speak with your doctor. If you do have Menorraghia or some other menstrual problem, a gynecologist can help you find the right solution that is safe.
Question 7: Could I have Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is when the tissue that sheds blood begins to line the outside of the uterus, causing a buildup of blood and tissue, excessive bleeding and extreme pain. Common symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Unusually painful periods, including pelvic and lower back pain.
- Painful intercourse.
- Difficulty and pain with bowel movements and/or urination.
- Excessive bleeding.
- and more
Diagnosing Endometriosis can be difficult, as different women will experience various symptoms at different extremities. Some of the symptoms of Endometriosis can also look similar to other problems, such as ovarian cysts. Speak with your doctor as soon as possible and voice your concern about the possibility that you might have Endometriosis.
Question 8: How long should I wait to take a pregnancy test?
Many doctors will recommend waiting until the first day of your missed period to take a pregnancy test. This also equates to around two weeks after the supposed conception date.
Question 9: Something feels not right down there. Should I be worried?
If you are experiencing something out of the ordinary in your lower genital area, such as itching or irritation or other abnormality, and over the counter medicines are not working, you should consult your doctor right away about what could be wrong. They might want to run tests or may try to give you a stronger prescription to take care of the problem. Speaking with your gynecologist sooner rather than later is always highly advised when you notice an issue.
Question 10: My breasts are tender, could something be wrong?
Brest tenderness is normal in women, and some women will be more sensitive than others. However, if you are experiencing sudden breast tenderness or notice any unusual spots or lumps speak to your gynecologist right away. They may want to run a few tests or schedule you in for a mammogram.
Those were the top questions to ask your gynecologist. We get that bringing up your most intimate problems can be awkward, but it’s important to remember that this is exactly why gynecologists exist! They are trained professionals in this field and have the experience needed to help guide you in the right direction with your questions whether they be about pregnancy, vaginal health, reproductive issues, menstrual issues, or something else.
Also, proceed with caution when Googling your health problems. It’s okay to research to get an idea of what might be wrong, but you should always be sure to bring any serious concerns you find to your doctor to verify what’s true and what’s not, and how to proceed.
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