Seeing your gynecologist on a regular basis is an important part of your preventive health. But sometimes you shouldn’t wait until your next annual to bring up your issues and concerns. The following are six situations where you should contact your gynecologist as soon as possible.
Before the age of menopause, woman should only have regular menstrual bleeding. In other words, bleeding once a month and only for one week. Anything more than that, either more prolonged heavy menstrual bleeding, or bleeding that is irregular in terms of timing, is abnormal and may be a sign of an underlying condition. Women with very heavy bleeding may be anemic and in severe cases may require a blood transfusion. Some women may not even realize how heavy their bleeding is. Generally speaking, if a women is going through more than six pads in six hours, it needs to be addressed. There should be at least 21 days from the start of one period to the start of the next. Abnormal bleeding could sign of polyps or fibroids (growths), cancerous growths or endometriosis (when the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus). Your OB/GYN has many options for treatment.
Bleeding Bleeding that stops before menopause
If you haven’t yet gone through menopause and you have infrequent periods or your periods stop unexpectedly, it may cause abnormal changes in your uterine lining. The most common cause of infrequent periods is a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, elevated testosterone levels, endometrial cancer, thyroid issues and a low percentage of body fat can all be a cause of infrequent periods. If you haven’t had a period in three months, make an appointment with your OB/GYN.
Issues and Questions about Birth Control
There are so many options for birth control beyond just the pill and your OB/GYN can help guide you through the decision process and choose the one that is best for you. Your health, lifestyle, personal and religious beliefs may all influence the type of birth control you choose to use. Birth control may also be used to treat menstrual problems. You’ll also want to talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing any concerning side effects from your birth control or have questions about its use. If you are interested in permanent birth control your OB/GYN can offer sterilization surgery as well.
Although it is common for women to experience cramping and discomfort during their periods, some women have extreme pain that can be debilitating. They may miss work, school, or be unable to do things they normally enjoy. Your OB/GYN can help determine whether this is due a condition known as endometriosis or some other cause. In the case of endometriosis, tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. The displaced tissue has no way to exit the body with each menses and becomes trapped causing pain. Regardless of the cause, your OB/GYN has many options available to diagnose and treat the pain.
In the history of medicine, pap smears are one of the greatest success stories of cancer prevention. However, a good deal of confusion about them still exists. A pelvic or speculum exam does not always include a pap smear. Beginning at age 21 OB/GYNs recommend that women have a pap smear every three to five years depending on their age. Cells from the cervix are sampled with a brush and sent to exclude cancerous or precancerous cell changes. If any are found, testing for strains of the HPV virus, which can cause these cell changes, is also done. Women over that age of 30 with normal cells and no HPV virus detected may choose to have pap smears less frequently but may still see their OB/GYN for regular pelvic and speculum exams if they have a specific concern or for infection screening.
Pain with Urination or Blood in the Urine
“If you feel any pain when urinating, have frequent urinary tract infections, urinary tract infections after the age of menopause, or you notice any blood – causing your urine to turn either pink or brown in tone – then you should make an appointment with the gynecologist straight away,” says Chicago OB/GYN Dr. Max Izbicki. The presence of blood in the urine is probably not an indication of anything serious, however, it should still be investigated, especially if it is persistent.
Talking openly with your gynecologist can mean more complete care, because they’ll know of the issues you’re facing and the questions you have. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor before your annual visit. If you’re experiencing one of these seven issues, call your gynecologist today.