Many aspects of a woman’s life, including her menstrual cycle, sex life, and menopause, all affect her reproductive health as an adult. In light of this, maintaining a connection with your gynecologist over time is crucial. Yet aside from your yearly well-woman exam, you might be wondering when you should see a gynecologist.
What does a gynecologist do?
Gynecologists are medical professionals that focus on the reproductive health of female patients.
In other words, a gynecologist is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women who are experiencing problems related to their reproductive systems.
When you turn 21, you should start seeing a gynecologist once a year for a well-woman exam, during which she will do a Pap smear and examine your pelvis and other areas for signs of disease.
When should a gynecologist be consulted?
If there is a problem, you can find out for sure by diving right in and seeing for yourself. To avoid unnecessary anxiety, however, you should be aware of when you should consult a gynecologist. In order to determine if you need to see a gynecologist, keep an eye out for these seven warning signs and symptoms:
1. Significant changes to your period
Menstrual cycle changes are the “check engine” light of the reproductive system.
Today, few people can count on having a regular menstrual cycle. If you have become used to occasional period delays or absences, you may want to give it a few weeks to see if things get back to normal.
There are three signs, however, that you should never neglect:
- A particularly traumatic period
- Hemorrhaging that is much heavier than average
- Early menstrual bleeding, such as spotting a few days before your period is due.
These three symptoms may indicate ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, or ectopic pregnancy.
Hormonal imbalance, fluctuations in body weight, and an intolerance to the hormones in birth control pills are also common contributors. A short ultrasound scan of the pelvis may be necessary for addition to the physical examination.
2. Irregular uterine bleeding
Sometimes it’s normal for a woman to bleed a little in between periods.
Some women, for instance, experience spotting every time they ovulate. While some women may not experience any side effects while switching birth control methods, others may. Even if you take a birth control pill and never skip a dose, you still can experience abnormal bleeding if you don’t take it on time. Many women experience cycle irregularity in the years leading up to menopause.
Vaginal bleeding can be irregular and problematic under certain circumstances, such as:
Heavy menstrual bleeding that cannot be explained for
- Pregnancy-related bleeding
- Changes in menstrual flow
Particularly concerning is menopausal bleeding. Bleeding after menopause is not usually a sign of cancer, but since it is possible, doctors take no chances. They make a concerted effort to get started with the evaluation as soon as possible.
3. Genital pain or discharge
Indicators of vaginitis include a change in discharge, irritation, discharge, or a foul odor. These issues typically do not resolve themselves. So, it is suggested that you see a gynecologist to have your symptoms assessed and to choose the best course of therapy.
4. Bumps and blisters
See a gynecologist if you notice a lump in your vagina or a blister in or around your labia (the skin folds around the vagina). Perhaps it’s just an ingrown hair, but that little bump might potentially be a genital wart, a benign growth caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Lesions associated with genital herpes may manifest as a little but painful blister that heals in a couple of weeks but reappears again.
5. You feel pain during sexual activity
Painful sex is another indication that it’s time to consult a doctor.
While occasional discomfort is to be expected during sexual activity, sudden or severe pain may indicate a more serious problem. There are many possible causes, such as fibroids, sexually transmitted diseases, or a burst cyst.
Increasing your foreplay, using lubricants, or switching positions can help if you’ve always had discomfort.
Nonetheless, a trip to some of the the best doctors is required if the pain is new, abrupt, or severe.
6. You notice a strange odor down below
The vast majority of regular poop has zero scents. It’s common to have a mild alteration in the odor of your vaginal or discharge fluids. Discharge that changes color, causes discomfort or causes itching are all signs that something is wrong, as does an abrupt stench that is either unpleasant or fishy. Yeast infection, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and similar conditions are all possible causes.
7. Abdominal and pelvic pain
Informing one’s gynecologist about the specific nature of one’s suffering is essential. Pain in the pelvis that suddenly becomes very severe may be an indication of an infection, a burst ovarian cyst, or a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Fibroid tumors of the uterus cause continuous abdominal pain or a distended feeling.
An annual pelvic exam is suggested, but there are certain symptoms that call for a trip to the gynecologist more frequently.
Keep track of any changes you experience if you’re wondering if it’s time to consult a gynecologist. If you notice a change in the color or order of your vaginal discharge, if you have any unusual sensations like itching or burning, if having intercourse is unpleasant, or if you bleed heavily between periods, it’s time to see a doctor.
1. When is it ideal to consult a gynecologist?
Doctors recommend scheduling a gynecological exam for 3–5 days after the end of your period. Women shouldn’t visit the doctor while they’re bleeding.
2. In what ways do doctors verify your menstrual cycle?
A sterile ultrasonic probe is inserted vaginally (transvaginal ultrasound) or rectally (rectal ultrasound) to enhance visualization of the uterus (rectal ultrasound). Ultrasound of the pelvis can be used to examine the uterine lining, which aids in diagnosing atypical menstrual bleeding.
3. Why do doctors inquire about the last period?
Your gynecologist will benefit greatly from knowing the date of your previous menstrual cycle. Vaginal discharge, breast examination, and symptoms like bloating and cramping can all change depending on where you are in your monthly cycle, and knowing your cycle’s phase can help you keep track of all of these changes.