“Pregnancy is over, do I still need to see a gynecologist? After menopause, why I need to visit a gynecologist? If I don’t need a Pap smear should I still see a gynec for an annual exam?” These are some of the questions we often hear while dealing with the topic.
There is this notion attached with gynecologists that one only needs to consult them when they are pregnant. Other than pregnancy most women will seek help of a general practitioner or a family physician while dealing with certain womanly issues. But what needs to be understood here is that gynecological problems are varied and not just restricted to pregnancy and postpartum health.
A gynecologist not only looks at the whole female anatomy, it is their job to coordinate care among all the specialists women need to see. Importantly, a detailed health discussion along with tests, diagnosis, and right treatment done by your gynecologist can take care of your health completely. Let’s look at some of the reasons you should visit a gynecologist.
Sudden Changes in Menstrual Cycle
If you experience a sudden change in your menstrual cycle, consider consulting your gynecologist right away. Whether you are getting irregular period or suffering from excessive blood loss during the menstruation, it should be informed to an expert in order to detect certain disorders like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, etc. and getting treated accordingly.
Missing Out Regular Period
If you miss out one or two consecutive periods, you should check with your gynecologist. Usually, absence of menstruation is considered as one of the symptoms of pregnancy. So, make sure you seek the help of a doctor in such situation.
Irregular Bleeding Other Than Period
Sometimes, women face abnormal vaginal bleeding other than regular periods. There may be a number of reasons behind it. Your cervical area might have been injured. You may have developed uterine polyps or uterine fibroids. Perhaps you are suffering from acute anemia. Even, in certain cases, it might be the result of uterine or cervical cancer. Whatever the reason is, make sure you seek the help and advice of a gynecologist immediately.
Bleeding During Menopause
There are a lot of women who experience lighter flow during menopause. Some (though it is rare) may even face heavy periods. It is recommended that you get in touch with your gynecologist in both cases as she / he is the right person to guide you through the phase.
Formation of Lumps in Breast
Breast examination is a must for each and every woman as it helps find out lumps or all other types of abnormal formations within one or both breasts. It can be done easily at home and you can prevent breast cancer effectively in this way. If you find such lumps along with other symptoms, such as pain in breasts, changes in shape, size and color of breasts, reddish discharge from one or both nipples, etc., contact your gynecologist without any delay.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Keep monitoring your vaginal area as it would help you identify any abnormal discharge from the organ. If you ever find yellowish-green or grayish vaginal fluid, chance is big that you have developed Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID. Consult with your gynecologist to avoid any severe situation.
Pain and Bleeding during Intercourse
If you are experiencing acute pain and heavy bleeding during or after intercourse, you need to seek the help of a gynecologist. He/she might suggest a Paps smear or some common physical examinations to detect the exact reason (cervical issues or general infection) lying behind it.
Prior to Marriage
Are you getting married very soon? Well, it is time for you to discuss with your gynecologist regarding the closeness of a husband-wife relationship, all about contraception, dos and don’ts of pregnancy, and so on. Just have a talk and get your doubts cleared.
History of Cancer in Family
Those who have a history of cancer in their family should always take more care of themselves. In order to do this successfully, they must visit their gynecologists more frequently.
During menopause, some women experience lighter periods, while others experience a heavier flow. Frequency of cycles can also change during menopause. Most women start menopause in their early 50s, but some start earlier and others later. If you are approaching the onset of menopause and notice a change in your menstrual cycle, check with your gynecologist to rule out the possibility of pregnancy.
Postmenopausal Years: Ages 65 Years and Beyond
The postmenopausal years are a time of considerable medical and social life changes. The physical examination includes a pelvic and breast exam but may not include a Pap smear to screen for cervical disease. The visit encompasses medical issues specific to aging and the menopausal process. Screening mammography continues and bone mineral density testing is performed on a routine basis. Maintaining optimal bone health to prevent osteoporosis is reviewed. Adequate exercise and proper nutrition with the recommended intake of calcium and vitamin D is discussed. In addition, many women experience urinary incontinence which can affect quality of life. Intervention can take the form of additional monitoring, treatment, referral or surgery.
If you are planning a baby, get all the requisite tests done, know the Rh factor of your partner and you. Check any underlying condition that can come in the way of your pregnancy or simply how to approach a healthy and happy pregnancy.
Vaccinations were not only meant for babies you need them too. Check with your doctor on the pre-pregnancy vaccination and when you need to get them. Also do not forget the Pap smear. It is recommended you get a Pap smear, a vaccination for cervical cancer, between 10 to 45 years of age or before you get sexually active.
Family Planning and Contraception
Even in today’s day and age where knowledge is easily accessible through various medium, there are still cases where the couple ends up being pregnant soon after a baby or have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Soon after your first born, meet your gynecologist and talk about the options of family planning and contraception. This will safeguard you from facing the stresses of an unwanted pregnancy and other financial issues.
You may need to see a gynecologist more frequently if you:
- Have fibroids.
- Have a history of abnormal Pap smears or HPV; your visits could be every four or six months.
- Are on oral contraceptives.
- Are on hormone replacement therapy.
- Have a “complicated gynecologic history,” which could include past surgeries or ongoing medical conditions such as endometriosis, a sometimes painful condition that results from uterine tissue growing in places outside the uterus.
Before you start feeling lazy or dreadful about the gynec appointment, keep in mind that this is a life-saving activity and is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.