Posts for category: OBGYN Care
When should you turn to a gynecologist for care?
A gynecologist is an important medical professional for all women to have. While the pandemic has certainly put a halt to how regularly we see certain doctors, particularly gynecologists, it’s important that women aren’t putting off these important wellness checks with their gynecologists.
When and how often does a teenager need to visit a gynecologist?
Your age and your health are two of the biggest determining factors as to just how often you should see a gynecologist for checkups. Most girls should visit the gynecologist for the first time between the ages of 13-15 years old. This visit is important as it acknowledges that girls have a doctor they can specifically turn to for their reproductive concerns and needs. Rest assured, that most girls will not need a pelvic exam during their first visit.
After this initial exam, a young girl may not need to come back in for another exam for years. This is something to discuss with your daughter’s gynecologist to see when they need to come back in for another preventive checkup. They may also need to come in for an evaluation if they are dealing with irregular menstrual cycles, serious period-related pains or would like to discuss birth control options.
How often do women need to visit a gynecologist?
Most women don’t see their gynecologist as often as they should unless they are dealing with issues or looking to become pregnant; however, these routine checkups are just as important as visiting your regular doctor for an annual wellness check or seeing your dentist twice a year for cleanings. Women over 21 years old should visit their OBGYN once a year for an annual exam, which includes a pelvic and breast exam. Pap tests are performed every 3-5 years depending on your history. Women with HPV will need to come in more regularly for pap tests.
What are some other reasons to visit a gynecologist?
A gynecologist can be invaluable to women of all ages, so it’s important that you have a gynecologist that you can turn to. You should also schedule an appointment with a gynecologist if,
- You’re interested in contraception and want to talk about options
- You’re having menstrual issues (this can be everything from irregular periods to heavy, painful periods)
- You’re experiencing symptoms of an STD
- You are planning to become pregnant or think you might be pregnant
- You’re experiencing distressing symptoms of menopause
If you are experiencing spotting, a missed period or other issues that have you concerned, a gynecologist should be the first doctor you turn to. If it’s also been more than a year since your last checkup, it’s important that you don’t put off this appointment any longer.
Discover simple solutions to ease menopause symptoms.
Yes, all women will go through menopause, but what women shouldn’t have to go through are night sweats, weight gain, hair loss, and other unpleasant symptoms that come along with this change in hormones. Menopause is normal, but it doesn’t mean that the problems you’re dealing with are just par for the course! An OBGYN can provide you with helpful strategies to better manage your menopause symptoms.
Signs of Menopause
With the sudden drop in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, it’s no surprise that this can lead to some rather unpleasant symptoms. While women often enter menopause between 45-and 54 years old, the fact is that many women experience some of these symptoms years before (this is commonly referred to as perimenopause). You may be faced with,
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sexual drive
- Brain fog and memory issues
- Insomnia or poor sleep
- Mood swings
- Brittle nails and hair
- Dry skin
Managing Menopause Symptoms
Every woman has different needs, so your OBGYN will take a personalized approach to health care and provide the right strategies, interventions, and treatment options that work best for you, your health, and your lifestyle. Many women find that they can drastically improve their symptoms through simple lifestyle strategies. Some of these lifestyle changes include,
Focusing on a healthy diet: Your diet can play a critical role in your hormones and health. Eating a diet rich in sugar, salt, additives, and chemicals can wreak havoc on your hormones. Eating an unprocessed, high-fiber whole diet is key to easing symptoms. You may even want to work with a doctor to identify food allergies and sensitivities, which can often make symptoms worse.
Getting regular exercise: Add regular aerobic activity into your daily routine. Even just 30-45 minutes a day is all you need. Incorporate strength training, circuit training and
Cut back on alcohol: Alcohol can undoubtedly make hot flashes and night sweat worse, not to mention that it can also increase your risk for certain cancers, heart problems and other health issues. Alcohol can also make anxiety and depression worse, which might mean it’s time to kick the habit (or, at the very least, cut back).
Get your nightly ZZZs: Sleep is critical to good health, no matter your age; however, your hormone fluctuations may be keeping you up at night or causing you to toss and turn. This is when your OBGYN and you can sit down and point out bad habits that might be making it harder for you to get good sleep (e.g., playing on your phone) and create better sleep habits.
Your OBGYN is going to be instrumental in helping you find ways to balance hormones, whether through replacement therapy, lifestyle changes, or both. If you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal changes and you’re in your 40s, it’s a good time to chat with your OBGYN.
What is latex?
Latex is a rubbery material that is found in the bark of a rubber tree. Even though latex might seem man-made it is actually made from nature. Since latex is derived from trees, this also increases the risk for an allergy.
What products contain latex?
Latex is found in quite a few household items including,
- Rubber bands
If you have a latex allergy you may be likely to develop symptoms that impact the nose, throat, ears, stomach, and skin. If you have an allergy to latex and you use latex condoms, you may notice itching, redness, or a rash in the vaginal region. Those with more severe latex allergies may also experience,
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Scratchy throat
How is a latex allergy treated?
Since there is no cure for latex allergy, the best thing you can do is avoid anything that contains latex including condoms. There are many non-latex condoms on the market these days but if you aren’t sure which ones are safe, simply ask your gynecologist.
However, if you do accidentally use a latex condom your gynecologist may recommend taking an antihistamine or corticosteroids or carrying an EpiPen in case of a severe latex allergy. If you are experiencing a reaction to a latex condom you may also want to relax in a sitz bath or apply hydrocortisone cream to the area to ease discomfort.
If this is your first time experiencing vaginal redness, swelling, or a rash it’s important to have these symptoms properly evaluated by a gynecologist to determine if it’s an allergy and to rule out STIs or other problems.
Even with a latex allergy, there are a variety of safe sex options that do not involve latex condoms. If you have questions about how to practice safe sex with a latex allergy your OBGYN can provide you with all the information you need to make smart choices for you and your partner.
What causes an ectopic pregnancy?
Many women who’ve experienced ectopic pregnancies never had any risk factors; however, certain factors could increase the risk for an ectopic pregnancy. These include,
- A sexually transmitted disease
- Cigarette smoking
- Past abdominal or pelvic surgeries
- Getting pregnant with an IUD in
- Past fertility treatment
- Previous ectopic pregnancies
Early symptoms and signs of an ectopic pregnancy are typically minor such as light abdominal pain or minimal vaginal bleeding; however, as the egg develops this can cause the fallopian tube to rupture. As blood leaks out this can result in sudden and severe abdominal and shoulder pain. Life-threatening symptoms include fainting, lightheadedness, and shock. If you are experiencing severe pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, shoulder pain, or lightheadedness it’s important that you seek immediate medical attention.
What are my treatment options?
The recommended course of action to treat an ectopic pregnancy will depend on how far along you are in the pregnancy as well as the symptoms you are experiencing. If detected early, most women receive an injectable medication that stops the cells from multiplying and dissolves the cells that are present. A blood test will then be performed to check HCG levels.
Laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to remove the ectopic pregnancy so the fallopian tube can heal. If there is extensive damage to the tube or the tube has ruptured then the tube may also need to be removed.
Light vaginal bleeding and stomach cramping are also normal parts of early pregnancy, so if you have any questions or concerns about the symptoms you are experiencing during your first trimester, your OBGYN is the ideal doctor to get answers to all of your questions and to provide you with specialized care.
Effectiveness of Birth Control
When used correctly, birth control pills are 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy; however, improper use of birth control pills can certainly decrease its efficacy. It’s important that you know exactly how to take birth control to protect against pregnancy. Here are some tips to protect yourself from getting pregnant while on “the pill”.
Don’t Miss a Dose
For birth control pills to be effective you must take them every day. So, what happens if you miss a day? Well, your hormone levels won’t remain consistent, which can increase your chances of getting pregnant. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to take the pill. If you find that you keep forgetting to take your pill, you may want to talk to your gynecologist about other birth control options such as the patch, injection, or intrauterine devices (IUD) that you can “set and forget”.
Take the Dose at the Same Time
It’s also important that you are taking the pill at the same time every day to maintain proper hormone levels. This means taking the pill within a 3-hour window. If you miss that 3-hour window, you should use backup birth control such as condoms for the next two days. Setting an alarm on your phone can also ensure that you take the pill at the same time every day and that you also don’t miss a dose.
Certain Medications and Supplements May Interfere with Birth Control
Some medications can make birth control less effective and it’s important to know this to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Certain medications that can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills include,
- Anti-fungal medications
- Epilepsy medications
- Certain anti-viral medications
If you are interested in your family planning options and would like to talk to a qualified medical professional about which type of birth control is right for you, call your OBGYN today to schedule a consultation.