Visiting your OBGYN is something you know you have to do on an annual basis, but there are times when you may feel like something about your body doesn’t seem exactly right. Whenever you have womanly concerns that a gynecologist may be able to help you sort out, you shouldn’t hesitate to call or make an appointment. Minor symptoms sometimes indicate major problems.
The best gynecologist will encourage you to be proactive with your health and knows you are the person who is most familiar with your own body. When you have any of these seven signs and feel like something might be wrong, it’s time to see your gynecologist.
1 – Pain or Burning with Urination
Pain or burning when you urinate may indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI). Women are more susceptible than men for developing UTIs. You may also have a fever or even blood in your urine. Have your gynecologist evaluate your symptoms and determine what is causing them and how to treat them.
In general, UTIs are treated with a course of antibiotics. Your OBGYN will tell you what to expect from your particular infection, but it’s important not to ignore your symptoms. When left untreated, infections of the urinary tract can spread, sometimes even causing kidney infection or sepsis (a possibly life-threatening condition).
2 – Menstrual Irregularities
Whenever your menstrual cycle seems different than normal or if it stops showing up at all, see your gynecologist. It could simply be caused by hormonal imbalances or stress, but it could also be a sign of ovarian problems, infection or uterine anomalies. Ignoring menstrual irregularities could lead to reproductive problems in the future.
Treatment for menstrual irregularities will vary depending on the root cause. Hormonal imbalances may be treated with specific hormone therapies. In other cases, the underlying ovarian problems will need to be addressed. For some women, however, treating menstrual irregularities may be as simple as lifestyle changes or taking a contraceptive treatment.
3 – Sores or Blisters on Genitals
A blister or sore on your genitals could be a sign that you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are also other possible causes of sores that are not sexually transmitted, but often sores or blisters won’t go away without medical intervention, so have your gynecologist check them out.
Your gynecologist will also be able to run a full STI screening, helping ensure your reproductive and sexual health. In most cases, your OBGYN can also provide education, counseling, and advice that can help prevent future STI transmission.
4 – Vaginal Itching or Discharge
Itching, discharge or a foul odor could indicate a bacterial infection, yeast infection or possibly a sexually transmitted infection. Most of the time, this type of problem won’t go away on its own. It’s important to have your gynecologist evaluate your symptoms so that you can be treated appropriately.
In some cases, treating vaginal itching or discharge with over-the-counter medication may be sufficient. Often, however, prescription medications may be required. Additionally, your OBGYN may recommend an STI screening to check for underlying disease.
5 – Pelvic Pain or Lower Abdominal Pain
There are a variety of possible causes of pelvic pain or lower abdominal pain. Some causes of pelvic pain include endometriosis, fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy. You may also have a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pain and discomfort of any kind are the body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. Have your gynecologist determine what’s causing your discomfort and what can be done about it.
While medication may often help bring pain under control, your OBGYN will be able to recommend the specific therapy or surgical procedure designed to address the underlying condition. When it comes to pelvic or lower abdominal pain, getting the root cause is vital.
6 – Painful Intercourse
Some of the same problems that cause pelvic pain, in general, can also cause pain during intercourse. For some women, using lubrication is all that is needed to make sex less painful. If that doesn’t give you relief, your gynecologist can look into other possible causes, which could include endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or infections, to name just a few possible causes. Your doctor will be the best person to find the solution to this problem.
7 – Breast Pain or Abnormalities
Any abnormalities in your breasts should be checked out by your gynecologist. This includes breast pain or discomfort, lumps, inflammation or swelling causing new asymmetry not related to menstrual cycles and discharge or bloody discharge from your breasts. Another reason to call your doctor is if you notice any changes in the nipples such as crusty or scaly skin. Redness, swelling or warmth are other signs that should be reported to your doctor.
Why See a Gynecologist?
Many of the symptoms and issues described above may present, at first, as little more than a nuisance. As such, you might be tempted to delay your trip to the OBGYN. However, there are advantages to swiftly bringing your symptoms to the attention of your gynecologist.
As an expert in women’s reproductive health, a gynecologist will be able to more quickly and accurately detect and diagnose health issues concerning your reproductive system. But more than that, you gynecologist can:
- Help put your symptoms into the context of your broader reproductive health. In other words, your gynecologist can help you figure out what’s normal and what’s not.
- Give you general reproductive health advice. This way you’ll be able to adopt habits that are not only healthy for your body generally, but also beneficial to your reproductive health more specifically.
- Provide specific screenings, diagnostics, tests, and advice for your reproductive health.
- If your symptoms or concerns require ultrasound imaging, that can often be performed onsite.
In many cases, if you bring these particular health concerns to your family doctor or general practitioner, you’ll be likely to receive a referral to your gynecologist anyway.
Pregnancy and Your OBGYN
One thing that we haven’t mentioned on our list is probably the one thing that OBGYNs are best known for: pregnancy. As the lead physician when it comes to reproductive health, your OBGYN will oversee almost all aspects of your pregnancy, from your first meeting all the way to delivery and beyond. If you suspect you’re pregnant, it’s essential to visit your gynecologist as soon as possible. This will help make sure your pregnancy gets started on the right foot!
Your gynecologist will also be able to confirm the status of your pregnancy and the health of your baby-to-be.
You will most likely be the first person to notice changes in your own body that others may not. Your gynecologist will help you figure out whether there is anything to be worried about. Don’t try to ignore symptoms that are in any way concerning to you. That’s especially true when they come to your reproductive health!