Take Control of Your Vaginal Health
Crucial Info You Need to Know Before You Visit Your Gyno
A visit to the gynecologist is disconcerting enough, what with someone poking around in your nether regions and all. However, the following information will make sure you are informed and have a better understanding of the common issues, exam guidelines and how to take a more active role in your own vaginal health.
FIRST UP – EXAM GUIDELINES
There have been some changes in the recommended guidelines for pelvic exams. While at one time recommended once a year, no matter what, it is now recommended that women have exams based on their personal health and risk factors. What this means is that your gynecologist will let you know whether or not you need to have an exam. To be clear, an exam is not a Pap smear, which should still be done once a year to check for cervical cancer.
COMMON GYNECOLOGICAL ISSUES
There are five issues that every woman should be aware of, and they are more common than you think.
- ENDOMETRIOSIS – This condition affects more than 175 million women and can cause serious fertility issues. Killer cramps are the number one symptom and the condition results in the lining of the uterus ending up on the ovaries, lungs or GI tract, rather than leaving the body, as it should during menses. Surgery is often recommended and it has a high success rate.
- POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME – This issue is a major fertility-wrecker and the most common reproductive disorder, especially in women who are obese or have type 2 diabetes. Also known as PCOS, this condition causes cysts that are believed to be due to higher than normal levels of male hormones.
- FIBROIDS – For women who have irregular bleeding or find that sex is painful, it could be due to uterine growths known as fibroids. Fibroids can vary in size and gynecologists will typically choose to monitor the condition rather than removing the growths.
- SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS – Around 20 million kinds of new STIs are diagnosed each year and almost every woman who is sexually active will end up with HPV, or the human papillomavirus, at some point in her life. While HPV and many other STIs have no cure, they can be treated, so see your doctor if you think there could be a problem.
- INFERTILITY – Even though the rates of infertility are decreasing, one out of every ten couples has problems conceiving. If you have been trying to get pregnant for more than six months, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Performing a yearly exam on yourself is the best way to take care of your vaginal health. Grab a mirror and look for any color changes or bumps, and make sure to note whether you can see any tissues that look like they are hanging out of your anus or vaginal opening. If you see anything that looks strange, a visit to the gynecologist is in order.
By Dr. Joseph Cunningham