Once you are already in the exam room, nerves can cause you to forget the important questions you needed to ask your gynecologist. That is why it is so important to decide ahead of time and write down the questions you have for your doctor.
Below are some questions that you may have about your reproductive health. Don't be embarrassed by them! All of these questions come from a genuine concern and you should not be embarrassed if any of them hit close to home. Read though this list PRIOR to going to your OB/GYN appointment. If you find yourself wondering about any of these questions, speak with your gynecologist about your options.
Should I clean myself before a pap smear or pelvic exam?
While your gynecologist, like all doctors, will encourage good personal hygiene habits, try not to over prepare before a pap smear or pelvic exam. You can, in fact, be TOO clean for these test!
Spermicide foams, douches, or overly enthusiastic cleaning can wipe away the abnormal cells that a pap smear looks for when testing you. Additionally, while certain smells may be embarrassing, they can be diagnostically important. A concerning smell or discharge should be discussed, not hidden, since those symptoms can help your gynecologist understand what is going on with your body.
Is sex supposed to hurt?
No. Sex is not supposed to hurt. However, 15 percent of women report experiencing pain during sex at some point during their lives. The misconception that this is normal keeps them from seeking help. If intercourse is painful for you, reach out to your gynecologist for help.
Why does it itch?
There are a number of reasons that you may experience vaginal itching. Properly identifying the cause is important since the treatments are very different.
Some itching is caused by irritants. Certain soaps, ointments, topical contraceptives, bubble baths and scented toilet papers can irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Diabetic's urine may also cause vaginal irritation.
Yeast infections' symptoms include itching and burning. 3 out of 4 women experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives, especially after a course of antibiotics.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can often result in vaginal itching. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and genital warts all cause itching.
Eczema, psoriasis, and other similar skin diseases can cause redness and itching. Sometimes, these rashes do spread to the vagina.
During menopause, estrogen levels decline, which can lead to vaginal dryness. As a result, some women experience itching or irritation.
If you experience itching, hives, or wheezing after sex, you may have an allergy to latex (condoms), spermicides or lubricants. In rare cases, some women are allergic to a protein in semen.
While the symptom of itching is the same for each case, the causes are very different and so the treatments must be as well. In the case of irritants or allergies, you may only need to avoid certain products. Infections and STDs, however, require medical attention to address. Once your gynecologist identifies what is causing your itching, the two of you will be able to find the appropriate treatment.
Does everyone's period hurt this much?
Everyone's body is different. However, abnormal period pain can be a symptom of other, serious health issues. Endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids (benign tumors), adenomyosis, and cervical stenosis can all cause severe pain during menstruation.
If your cramps last for more than two or three days, consult your gynecologist for treatment options. Listening to your body can help uncover underlying health concerns but, even if nothing is out of the ordinary, your doctor likely has options to help relieve your pain. Menstruation is normal but it should not hinder your daily life.
How long can I leave a tampon in?
Do not leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours. If it remains in longer than that, you risk toxic shock syndrome. The trapped bacteria in the vagina, specifically staph and strep, flourish inside tampons. Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, low blood pressure, and a rash that looks similar to a sunburn.
If treated, toxic shock syndrome has a good prognosis. However, if left untreated, the infection can result in organ damage.
Who needs a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breasts, which is used as a diagnostic and screening tool. Early detection of breast cancer is incredibly important so women over the age of 45 should receive annual mammograms. Women who feel a lump in their breast or experience other breast cancer symptoms should get a mammogram.