If you’re asking yourself should I visit my gynecologist, the answer is likely yes. It’s always better to check in with your gynecologist if you’re having concerns than to wait it out. Waiting gives a gynecological issue more time to get worse, which can make it more difficult to treat.
Some common symptoms or issues are worth a visit to the doctor. If you’re still unsure, call your gynecologist’s office and let them know what you’re experiencing. They can tell you whether or not you need to schedule an appointment.
Check out these times when visiting your gynecologist is a good idea.
1. Abnormal Bleeding
Some spotting between your periods is normal. More than just a little bleeding could be cause for concern, especially if it’s abnormal for you. If you start bleeding often or it’s painful and heavy, contact your gynecologist immediately to schedule an appointment.
Abnormal bleeding could be something relatively minor, such as an infection, fibroids, or a cyst. It can also be a sign of cancer in rare cases. Because of the possibility of something more serious, having it checked out sooner ensures you get the best treatment as quickly as possible.
2. Painful Sex
Pain during sex can be normal, especially if you have vaginal dryness or don’t use enough lubrication. Sudden or extreme pain often means there’s an underlying condition causing the pain. STIs, ruptured cysts, endometriosis, and fibroids are examples of issues that can cause painful sex.
Another possible cause of pain or irritation after sex is a latex allergy. If you use latex condoms, pay attention to those symptoms and how long they last. If they go away in a day or two, it could be a latex allergy.
Schedule a visit with your gynecologist if you have severe pain during sex, especially if it’s new developed pain. Your doctor can rule out medical causes or suggest treatment options if a condition is diagnosed.
3. Vaginal Itching, Burning, or Dryness
Itching, burning, dryness, and other issues with your vagina make life very uncomfortable. These symptoms are often due to an infection of some type. Your gynecologist can run tests and evaluate your symptoms to determine the cause of the uncomfortable symptoms as well as a create a treatment plan.
4. Unusual Odors or Discharge
Unusual discharge or vaginal odors are a good reason to visit your gynecologist. While some discharge is normal, it’s generally odorless if it’s normal, healthy discharge. The smell and appearance might fluctuate somewhat and still be healthy.
A strong vaginal odor or a change in your discharge, such as heavier, thicker discharge that’s a different color, can be a sign of a problem. Yeast infections and STIs often cause changes in vaginal odors and discharge. Itchiness and irritation can also be a sign of infections.
5. Changes With Your Period or PMS
Visiting your gynecologist is a good idea if you notice changes in your periods or PMS symptoms. Some changes are normal as you age. Other changes could signal a problem that may or may not need treatment.
You know what’s normal for your cycles in terms of bleeding, cramping, and other symptoms. When something changes, such as heavier bleeding, worse cramps, or missed periods, talk to your gynecologist.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor if your periods have always been heavy or very painful. Even if it’s normal for you, there could be an underlying condition that’s causing it. Your doctor might also have ways to help ease the pain and discomfort.
Fibroids can be the cause of heavy and painful periods. They’re benign tumors that grow in your uterus. If they’re severe enough, you might need treatment, which can also help relieve your heavy, painful periods.
If you notice severe PMS symptoms, including extreme mood swings and severe physical symptoms, you could have premenstrual dysmorphic disorder. Your gynecologist can suggest options to ease those symptoms and make your periods more tolerable.
6. New Birth Control Options
Another aspect of gynecology is helping you find the right birth control options. If you become sexually active for the first time, scheduling an appointment with your gynecologist gives you a chance to discuss the birth control options. Your doctor can prescribe birth control if needed based on what you decide is best for you.
If you’re already on birth control, you might decide you want a change. You might not like remembering to take a pill everyday, so you want to discuss the possibility of an IUD.
Perhaps you’re having uncomfortable side effects with your hormonal birth control. Your gynecologist likely has several other options available to you that might have fewer side effects. Everyone reacts differently to birth control, so trying something new could give you the pregnancy protection you want with fewer side effects.
If you’re having issues with your current birth control or want to explore other options, visit your gynecologist.
7. You’re Due for a Checkup
Knowing how often should you see your gynecologist helps you decide if it’s time to schedule an appointment. Your age is the most common factor in determining the frequency of regular checkups.
Yearly exams are ideal for women ages 21 to 29 as well as anyone under 21 who is sexually active. Once you hit 30, you can schedule your gynecologist visit every other year as long as you’re healthy and aren’t receiving any treatment. Your gynecologist might want to see you every year, though, so follow the advice that your doctor gives.
Going to your gynecologist for routine visits helps your doctor track your health and spot issues early when they’re more treatable. A major part of your routine visit is the pap smear, which screens for cervical cancer. In 2020, there were an estimated 13,800 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed.
The screening can detect changes in your cervical cells before it actually becomes cancer. Your doctor can decide if the changes require treatment, or if you simply need more frequent testing and monitoring.
Schedule a Gynecologist Visit
If you have any of the signs you should visit your gynecologist, don’t delay in scheduling a gynecologist visit. Many vaginal issues are relatively minor and your gynecologist can help you treat the issue. More serious issues are easier to treat when they’re diagnosed early.
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