Picture Of Health: The Dreaded Gynecologist Visit

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How long has it been since your last visit to the gynecologist? Let’s face it. No one really likes going to the gynecologist, but it is one of those things we have to do. The female reproductive system is complex and no one knows it better than these skilled professionals. They can not only detect issues and provide solutions but they can also properly educate us on how to do it ourselves. Need more convincing on the importance of booking an appointment?

There is a misconception that they just look at our most intimate parts all day. While that is a part of the job, there is more. From helping to regulate irregular and painful periods, cysts and urinary issues, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, to executing mammograms, and providing conception and infertility counseling, there’s a wide range of topics these specialists can help with.

Let’s start with the facts. Gynecologists spend four years in medical school. During this time they learn the ins and outs of the human body and zero in on the female reproductive system. Basically, they have spent a long time studying what’s going on in there, getting to know the signs our bodies are sending us. Great, but how does this benefit you?

The menstrual cycle is one of Mother Nature’s most loved and hated gifts. The biological calendar brings a visitor for a few days every cycle and hopefully, everything runs smoothly. This is not always the case. Sometimes there are intense and unbearable cramps, excessive bleeding or late and unpredictable cycles. There is no need to suffer any longer. A gynecologist can help get to the root of the problem, but only if you go see them to discuss symptoms. A birth control prescription is sometimes all it takes to ease cramps and shift an irregular menstrual cycle into a more predictable one. Make sure to keep track of cycles including when they start, how long they last and any symptoms. This is helpful when visiting the doctor and can be done using any calendar, from a phone to good old fashioned paper. Alternatively, consider one of the many period tracker apps. They also provide daily advice articles on frequently asked questions and tips on managing stress, acne, cramps and more.

Read more about your menstrual cycle here.

Thinking of taking the step into motherhood? This is yet another reason to schedule a visit. OB-GYN’s can discuss genetic traits, provide useful information all mothers-to-be should know and make sure mom and baby are happy and healthy along the way.

Life can sometimes throw us a curveball. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once the most deadly form of the disease. What changed? The use of the Pap test. While cervical cancer is more common in women over 40, screening is recommended for those over the age of 21. Yes, that means you. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends screening for cervical cancer every three years for women aged 21 to 65 years but also gives the option for those aged 30 to 65 years to instead have a Pap and HPV co-test every 5 years. Where can this testing be done? I think you’re beginning to catch on.

Donna Wicker, MD, FACOG breaks down the Pap test and why a gynecologist visit is about more than just physical health.

Breast health is just as important. According to the CDC, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women behind certain forms of skin cancer and is the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. Reports also show that 125 in every 100,000 women will report new breast cancer cases.

Sound scary? It does not have to be. Early detection is key. Where can you learn more about this? You guessed it, your gynecologist. Mammograms are recommended for those closer to 50 years of age, but that does not mean you should wait to talk to your doctor about breast health. Be sure to ask more about self-screening at home, which can also help with early detection. Check out some other breast health practices.

Still not convinced to pick up the phone and make an appointment? Hear it from the professionals themselves. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is home to more than 58,000 board certified OB-GYN’s who are devoted to women’s health initiatives. A few members break down why gynecology is a great field of medicine.