10 Good Reasons You Need To See Your Gynecologist
Ten (but certainly not all) good reasons to give your gyno a ring
I was having this conversation with a group of women some time ago about wanting to see a gynaecologist. Most of the women in the group wondered why I had to see one and sadly some didn't even know why we need to see a gynaecologist. That conversation paved way for this article. Going to see a gynaecologist — a doctor who focuses on women’s reproductive health— means you’re taking responsibility for your body in new ways.
Here are some (but certainly not all) good reasons to give your gyno a ring ASAP.
1. You’re bleeding and it’s not that time of the month yet
Spotting in between periods is normal for many women. It’s a common side effect of the Pill. But if you’re bleeding heavily or it continues for a few days, it’s a good idea to check in with your gyno. Spotting can be a sign of a pelvic infection, cysts, fibroids, polyps, or in rarer cases, gynecological cancer. It’s also common during pregnancy and usually not a big deal—but your doctor will want to know about it to make sure it’s not a worst case scenario: a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
2. Your period is unbearably painful
Everyone’s cramps are different, and it’s normal for many women to feel some pain. But your cramps shouldn’t leave you feeling incapacitated. If they do, it can be a sign of a bigger problem. If you’ve had bad cramps your whole life, chances are it’s less clinically significant. If they start later in life, or the pain worsens or changes over time, that’s more concerning—it could mean you’ve developed a condition (such as a benign tumor called a fibroid) that’s causing your discomfort. Even if there isn’t a serious issue, you’ll be glad you went to see your doc—there’s no reason you need to suffer through debilitating pain once a month.
3. S3x hurts, but not in a good way
Pain during intercourse is actually pretty common, and most of the time, can be fixed by changing positions or lubing up. If it’s not, it may be a sign something’s going on internally. Deep pain can mean endometriosis, and a sudden, sharp pain could be a ruptured ovarian cyst. Fibroids or cervicitis, inflammation of the cervix caused by an STI or other infection (like yeast), can also make s3x painful. If the pain is more of a burning or stabbing around the opening of the v*gina, it could signal a condition called vulvodynia; pain with insertion (or inability to insert anything into the v*gina) may be a condition called vaginismus, which causes involuntary muscle spasms. Pelvic inflammatory disease may also cause painful s3x, but many times is symptomless.
4. Your v*gina is really dry
V*ginal dryness during s3x—aka, not being able to get wet—may mean you haven’t had the right amount of foreplay, Ross notes. More foreplay, plus using lube, may do the trick. If not, or if dryness is a daily problem, your ob/gyn can help you figure out what’s causing it. Some hormonal changes (like those that happen during menopause) can cause dryness, as can a few chronic health conditions and dermatological problems.
5. You notice a funky smell down there
Regular discharge is mostly odorless. If you notice a slight change in the way your v*gina or discharge smells, that’s totally normal. What’s not normal is a sudden foul or fishy odor, especially if it’s accompanied by a change in discharge color, irritation, or itchiness. That’s a good indicator of an infection like bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or a yeast infection.
6. Your period just stopped showing up
“Halting or preventing ovulation can occur through hormonal imbalance, physical or emotional stress, illness, and pregnancy,” Ross notes. While it could also just be a side effect of the Pill or other medications, lack of period can also be a sign of an ovulatory disorder like PCOS or in rare cases, premature ovarian failure (which leads to early menopause).
7. You experience v*ginal swelling, itching, and/or pain after s3x
If the pain only lasts for about 36 hours, you might just be allergic to latex. “Some women have a latex allergy, which can cause v*ginal swelling, itching, and pain during and up to 36 hours after s3x. Most condoms are made of latex, so if you experience these unwelcomed post-coital symptoms, you might be having a reaction. If you have a latex allergy you can use the polyurethane condom as an alternative and avoid this allergic painful reaction. If these symptoms last longer than a day or two, or don’t go away after switching condoms, seeing your doc will help you figure out if an underlying problem, like a v*ginal infection, is to blame.
8. You have trouble getting aroused or orgasming
Of course, this isn’t a life-threatening problem, but it can stop you from being intimate with your partner and experiencing pleasure. You should bring any s3xual concerns to your gyno and don't be embarrassed about it. But it’s OK to ask for help in working through intimacy problems or to learn how to get more comfortable with your body. Your ob/gyn can help diagnose and treat any underlying conditions that may be keeping you from reaching the big O.
9. You turn into a monstrously evil twin of yourself right before your period
Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder is a form of severe PMS marked by extreme mood swings—anger, irritability, decreased interest in activities—and physical symptoms like horrible cramps, breast tenderness, bloating, and lethargy. There are options for treating it, such as supplements, diuretics (to manage bloating), and light therapy (for the mood-related symptoms), and your ob/gyn can help you find the best method for you.
10. You’re not into your current method of contraception
If your birth control comes with unsavory side effects or if you always forget to take it, your ob/gyn can talk through all of your options. With so many different methods of contraception out there, there’s no reason to be unhappy with the method you use. If you’re really not feelin’ your current pill or IUD or whatever else you use, it’s time to start chatting with your doc about trying something new.
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