Seeing a gynecologist is essential to the health and wellbeing of every person who has a vagina. Obviously, it’s important to get an annual exam from your gyno each year, but there are plenty of other reasons to schedule an OBGYN visit.
Here are some reasons why you might want to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist ASAP.
1. Birth Control
Birth control is one of the most common reasons that people of reproductive age schedule an appointment with a gynecologist. Having a plan for preventing unwanted pregnancy is important for mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s also every person’s right!
A gynecologist will explain all your options for birth control. They’ll also help you figure out which method of birth control works best for your body and your lifestyle.
Some gynecologists will perform a pelvic exam to make sure you’re healthy before prescribing birth control. But not all gynecologists believe that a pelvic exam is necessary for providing birth control. If you’re nervous about getting your first pelvic exam in order to get birth control, talk to the gynecologist you’re planning to see. They may not require an exam to get a birth control prescription.
2. STI Testing
Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are common. In fact, 50% of all sexually active people will get an STI by the time they’re 25. There’s no shame in getting an STI. It’s a relatively normal part of having sex.
But STIs are easily preventable. If you practice safe sex and get tested regularly, you can avoid getting an STI.
Before you have sex with a new partner, you should both get tested for STIs. Your gynecologist can test for all the common STIs during a quick appointment.
If you get a positive result, your gynecologist can talk you through the proper treatment. They can also prescribe you the proper medication. And they can talk to you about ways to prevent STIs in the future.
3. Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
Most people have a good idea of what they’re menstrual cycle is usually like. Maybe it’s not exactly the same each month, but it’s probably pretty much the same. It comes around the same time, lasts about the same amount of time, and bleeding is pretty similar each month.
Having one month that’s a little out of the ordinary isn’t a big deal. But if your menstrual cycle changes abruptly for more than one cycle, it’s time to schedule an OBGYN visit. Changes in your menstrual cycle can be triggered by many things. Some are serious, some aren’t. But any change warrants a consult with your gynecologist.
4. Abnormal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is completely normal, especially at certain times of your menstrual cycle. Vaginal discharge is part of your vagina’s self-cleaning system. Discharge helps get rid of bacteria and dead skin cells, which helps keep your vagina healthy.
Normal discharge ranges in color from clear to milky white. Right before or after your period, the discharge may be streaked with red or brown. It can even appear kind of yellow. This is all normal. Normal vaginal discharge does have a slight smell, but there shouldn’t be a strong odor.
Discharge that’s chunky, gray, yellow, greenish, and has a bad odor is considered abnormal. It could be the sign of an infection or other medical problem.
If your vaginal discharge changes in color or odor, definitely head to your gynecologist. They can test for various kinds of vaginal infections or other diseases.
5. Painful and Heavy Periods
Periods hurt. There’s no way around that. Cramps and headaches and muscle pains are all common during your period and they suck, for sure.
But your period should never have you in excruciating pain. Period pain is so normalized that most people don’t realize their period pain is abnormal and could be the sign of a serious problem.
If your cramps have you doubled over in pain or you’re in so much pain that you vomit, that’s not normal. If you’re in so much pain that you miss school or work every month, that’s not normal. You should definitely check in with your gynecologist.
Periods come with a good amount of blood too. But you shouldn’t be bleeding so much that you feel weak or you’re anemic. And you shouldn’t be bleeding through multiple super or super plus tampons every day.
If your periods are very painful and you bleed a lot every month, you might have a reproductive disease such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, or PCOS. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist ASAP to discuss your symptoms.
6. Persistent Lower Abdominal Pain
Every person with a period knows what period cramps are like. But what if you have cramps that feel like period cramps when you’re not due to get your period? What if you have lower abdominal pain for most of the month?
Having persistent pain or cramps in your lower abdomen can be a sign of a problem. Endometriosis, PCOS, and ovarian cysts all cause persistent lower abdominal pain, as do several other reproductive diseases.
If you have cramps that feel like period pains when you’re not getting your period or you have sharp pain in your pelvic area or around your hips, definitely schedule an appointment with your OBGYN.
Once you’re over 45, getting regular mammograms is essential. This test is the main way that doctors screen for breast cancer. And catching breast cancer early is the best way to ensure effective treatment and survival.
Women of 45 should get a mammogram every year. New research suggests that some women should start getting yearly mammograms as early as 30. Women who have dense breast tissue and women who have breast cancer in their family may want to start getting regular mammograms early just in case. Read more now about what happens at a mammogram appointment.
Schedule an OBGYN Visit ASAP
All of these circumstances are good reasons to schedule an OBGYN visit ASAP. And if you haven’t had your yearly exam yet, it’s time to give your OBGYN a call. Remember that annual exams are the best way to catch issues early.
For more information about living your healthiest life, check out the Health and Wellness section of our site.