It is important for every woman to visit the gynecologist at least once a year. The body systems of women are differently engineered to be unique and different, and that’s what makes the issue of seeing a gynecologist that much important. Most ladies however put it off stating that they take really good care of their bodies, especially their nether regions but no matter how well you think you care for your body, some extra precaution taken by seeing a doctor doesn’t hurt.
How often should you see a gynecologist?
• Your first visit: Women should start seeing a gynecologist when they become sexually active or within two to three years of becoming sexually active. And even if you’re not sexually active, a woman should have her first gynecological exam by age 21. By this time you already have an idea of how your body works so seeing a gynecologist will only help you understand more about your body system and how to take care of yourself.
• Regular return visits: For most women, seeing a gynecologist once a year is enough. Though it is also important to go regularly if you experience:
- Changes in your period — the menstrual cycle is different for every woman though the average duration is from 3-7 days. If you stop getting your period or are experiencing erratic changes in your cycle, you should check with you gynecologist immediately. Such changes may indicate pregnancy or hormonal imbalances.
- Irregular bleeding — If you notice any bleeding that is not associated with your period, such as bleeding during or after intercourse, you should check with a gynecologist as soon as possible. If you also experience vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy, see your doctor immediately. Vaginal bleeding can also be a sign of other conditions, such as uterine polyps and fibroids, or even a sign of cervical or uterine cancer.
As much as we can sometimes admittedly too busy or too embarrassed to go see a gynecologist or even do a follow up routine checkup, some symptoms that you might experience cannot wait. The sooner you’re diagnosed and treated, the better. Some of the warning signs that your body will give you are:
1. Abnormal Bleeding: This issue isn’t hard to detect, since we’re unfortunately used to what bleeding looks like every month.
Abnormal uterine bleeding can be defined as heavier than normal periods or prolonged periods, bleeding in between periods or even bleeding after you’ve gone through menopause. There are many different explanations for what can cause abnormal bleeding – for example anemia – but regardless of the cause, seek medical attention immediately.
2. Painful blister – like wounds on the vagina or rectal area: This can be an indication of herpes and all it takes is a simple blood test to know the exact cause for the lesions.
3. Sudden intense pain around your tummy: Most can assume such kind of pain is either discomfort or gas but if the pain is accompanied by light headedness and shoulder pain, it could be a sign of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized ovum implants itself in tissue other than the tissue of the uterine wall. Ectopic pregnancies usually implant in the fallopian tube. When it ruptures, blood in the Fallopian tube tracks up under the diaphragm which the brain then translates the diaphragmatic pain as shoulder pain. If you do notice such pain, get medical attention immediately. In most cases, surgery is the best option to treat this but early treatment can help preserve the chance for future healthy pregnancies.
4. Vaginal discharge: There’s normal discharge and vaginitis. It might be because of your recent sexual history and lifestyle history which includes usage of new soaps, new detergents for your inner wear and how you take care of your inner-wear.
5. Breast lumps: Lumps or masses in breasts are a scary occurrence mostly because we jump immediately to the conclusion of breast cancer. It is however also important to get a mammogram or biopsy of the tissue first, to conclude whether the lump is cancerous or not.
6. Urinary tract infections: Most women experience at least one case of UTI in their lifetime. This is brought up mainly because of the closeness of the urethra to the rectal area thus bacteria can be easily transferred to the uterine area causing infections. The most common symptom is blood in the urine or cloudy urine & lower back pain. It is completely treatable with antibiotics but only after a doctor can diagnose it after doing a simple urine test.
7. Pain or discomfort in the vaginal area: If you experience vaginal itching and burning, you should definitely see your doctor. Vaginal discomfort is not only unpleasant, but it could be a sign of urinary tract infections, bacterial infections, yeast infections, and some sexually transmitted diseases. These conditions can all be treated or managed once diagnosed by a gynecologist.
Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications. They are a very common occurrence in women and most of the times when they do occur can be treated by antibiotics. However, if you’ve never been diagnosed by a doctor, don’t just buy the medication; see a doctor first.
As far as gynecologist visits are concerned, finding a doctor you can trust and seeing that doctor regularly or when circumstances dictate is important to a woman’s health and well-being. If you don’t already have a gynecologist, do your research. You can either choose a male or female doctor but always make sure that wherever or whoever you choose, make sure you’re comfortable with the choice you make.