If you’re lacking a gang of close besties who you can be open and keep it real with, then fear not because here I am to school you. Take some notes and go to your next OB-GYN exam fully prepared to bring up these 10 topics with your doc. (Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, which is even more reason why you should be asking these questions to one anyway to get the most accurate info!)
Do you need a comprehensive hormone level test? There’s no need to suffer in ignorance of what’s going on with your body. Abnormal hormone levels can wreak total havoc on your well-being. You could be suffering from treatable depression, anxiety, irritability, acne, weight issues, etc. simply because of a deficiency or high level of one of your body’s chemicals. Seriously, one vitamin or prescription could alter your whole life and here you were walking around just thinking you were doomed to be sad and unmotivated for no reason.
Are you due for a Pap smear? In case no one has ever told you, you should be getting this done at least annually. Vaginal discharge is normal, but you may be dismissing an excessive amount that is due to a vaginal infection. Even if you’re not currently sexually active, you can still be at risk for common imbalances caused by tight underwear, antibiotics, or even too much sugar in your diet.
Can she/he perform a breast exam? It’s recommended to perform a self-exam of your breasts once a month, but I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit I’m not even 100% sure what I’m looking for. I assume the general gist is if you’re used to feeling up on yourself, you would notice if something changed. To be on the safe side, it’s best to also have professional hands involved here. They could tell you for sure if there is a cause for concern.
Can you have a full STD panel completed ASAP? For the love of everything, know your current, up-to-date STD status! I cannot stress this enough and will keep saying it beyond when you’re sick of hearing it, with good reason. For one, how crappy of a person could you be to unknowingly pass along something to a new partner when you could’ve avoided it by being responsible? Two, there are many treatment options for common STDs that can completely eliminate them before they turn into something worse. For example, untreated chlamydia can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to permanent infertility. Be aware, however, that doctors normally don’t test for HSV (herpes). Proceed with caution if you decide to specifically request this test and you’ve never been checked for it before. It’s actually a lot more common to carry the antibodies than you’d think, and most medical professionals consider it more harm than good to check for in the absence of active outbreaks and symptoms.
What are your birth control options and long-term effects of their use? Any female still in her reproductive years should have a plan whether she’s sexually active or not. Just being realistic here, but you never know after a long drought when an unexpected hottie will pop up in your life. Condoms aren’t the best course of action because they can break or even fall off (yes, this does happen). Birth control is a great way to stay on top of pregnancy management, but it doesn’t come without its own set of dangers. On some pills, you may need to get your blood pressure checked regularly or, better yet, get your own monitor at home. Birth control can also cause weight gain, which cause can trigger diabetes.
What is your fertility status? Don’t just assume once you stop taking the pill, you’re magically going to be with child right away. You may have a low ovarian reserve and be losing reproductive potential as we speak. There’s a reason the phrase “your biological clock is ticking” exists and it doesn’t just refer to this far off menopause thing you don’t think applies to you any time soon. Better to know now where you stand in case you need to explore options like freezing your eggs.
What’s up with that pain you’ve been having? Pain is literally your body’s way of trying to get your attention. Listen to it! Find out if any discomfort you’re having is beyond normal expectations. It could be a sign of endometriosis, uterine polyps, or ovarian cysts.
Would you benefit from genetic testing? You should talk to your doctor about whether you should be concerned about genetic conditions. It isn’t a bad idea to do testing to be on the safe side. You may need to start screening earlier for health conditions that run in your family history. You also might need to know before trying to conceive. For example, if you have sickle cell trait (not the disease, so you may not have any symptoms), you would need to be careful when choosing a partner to start a family with. If your partner also has the trait, it increases the risk of their child being born with the actual disease to 50%.
Are you protected from cervical cancer? Cervical cancer is no joke and HPV (the STD that can lead to it) is seriously common. Ask your doctor if you have gotten the Gardasil shot to reduce your chances of contracting HPV. Trust me, you don’t want an abnormal pap scare and those two weeks you wait for the results from a colposcopy will be straight up hell.
Any questions you’ve been having! The only thing stupid about asking questions is not asking them if you have any! Please ask everything and hold nothing back. This is an OBGYN, remember? Their entire job is to look at cervixes all day, so literally no topic is off the table or TMI at this point. You should pretty much be as comfortable with divulging the awkward and uncomfortable with this person as you should your own mother because these are the people assisting mothers in bringing children into existence in the first place. Pain during sex, weird spotting, questionable odors from down below…spill it now!
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