When should you start to see a Gynecologist?
As a general rule, the guideline is to start seeking gynecological care when one becomes sexually active, or between the ages of 18 – 21, whichever comes first. Many teenagers might seek gynecological care for a variety of other reasons. A primary reason a young woman begins seeking the care of a gynecologist is to obtain information regarding menstrual irregularities, such as heavy or painful cycles. These can be disruptive to daily life activities and can cause some concern. Other reasons might include seeking information regarding contraception, sexually transmitted disease screening, or general concerns about urinary or vaginal problems. These types of problems may be beyond the scope of a primary care physician or a general pediatrician.
What can I expect during a routine gynecological evaluation?
This will generally include a breast examination, abdominal examination and pelvic examination. Many women correlate an annual exam with a pap smear. For a gynecologist, an annual exam is a comprehensive evaluation of the female reproductive system that includes a pap smear, but also incorporates several aspects of a woman’s general health. A breast exam, abdominal exam, plus a pelvic exam done by an experienced clinician can provide clues regarding your general health that may have larger clinical relevance.
What is the importance of seeing the gynecologist on a regular basis?
The routine gynecologic evaluation allows screening for various female related cancers, infections and other health related issues. Routine pap smears have contributed to sizable decreases in mortality from cervical cancer. This screening process allows physicians to identify groups of at risk woman and to treat them early. Early diagnosis of an abnormal pap smear can prove to be fertility sparing, but also ultimately curative and life saving.
What are my birth control options?
There are many birth control options including birth control pills, vaginal rings, IUD’s, permanent sterilization and barrier methods. Recent advances in reproductive technologies have enabled gynecologists to provide innovative contraceptive options to patients. For example, there are a wide spectrum of innovative medical options that vary in types of pharmaceuticals utilized and mode of delivery. There are nonmedical options as well, that are noninvasive and safer than in times past. A physician can listen to patients reproductive concerns, and tailor a treatment plan unique to that individual.
What should I do in preparation for trying to conceive?
A general health evaluation is appropriate prior to beginning the attempt to conceive. When a couple is planning to conceive, it is prudent to discuss any current medical treatments with an obstetrician to determine whether there may be any interactions in the early development of a baby. There may be several weeks before a woman realizes that she is pregnant, and medications and one’s lifestyle exposures can influence early fetal development.
What should I do or avoid during pregnancy?
Most important one should avoid obvious toxins to the baby, including smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs. A good nutritious diet is also highly important both before and during pregnancy. There are standards of vitamin supplements, and there are do’s and don’ts in pregnancy that are important for a woman to review with her doctor when she becomes pregnant. General questions about what symptoms in pregnancy are of serious concern and which symptoms are normal will be discussed in detail as well. Many changes that are within a normal range, one should be educated on in order to affirm that a pregnancy is progressing in a healthy way.