Few annual appointments are as nerve-wracking as visiting the OB-GYN. From the discomfort of the vagina probing, to the embarrassment of asking your most vulnerable questions, it can be an overall intimidating experience. Sometimes, the nerves and anxiety make your mind go blank, as you idly ask yourself, “Wait, what questions should I ask my OBGYN?”
What Should I Ask My Gynecologist On My First Visit?
While there is certainly some overlap between what you should ask your general practitioner versus what you should ask your gynecologist, there are certain areas that stand as the latter’s expertise. Some important things to remember to discuss during your gyno appointment include:
- Your sexual history
- Exposure to STIs
- Difficulty controlling urine
- Low libido
- Discomfort or pain during sex
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Any vaginal odor, discomfort, or abnormal discharge
- Rashes or bumps in the pelvic area
- Plans for having children
What Do I Do If I’m Extremely Uncomfortable With The Thought Of the Gynecologist?
While we all can relate to a certain extent, this doesn’t mean we should avoid going altogether. It’s crucial that you take your vaginal & sexual health seriously, and neglecting your hormones can be detrimental in the long run.
Regardless, we’ve got your back! Since we know it isn’t easy, we came up with some of the basic questions most people ask during a visit to the gyno, and compiled helpful answers below.
What color should my discharge be?
Your vaginal discharge, amongst many more things, is a vessel of communication for your body. While healthy discharge can be described as thin and clear or white, its color, texture, quantity, and odor can change depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle. Abnormal discharge, however, is usually much thicker, yellow or green in color, and accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor. The change can be indicative of a wide array of things, including a bacterial or yeast infection, STD, or other underlying medical conditions like ovarian cysts or endometriosis.
Why am I experiencing pain during sex?
Unless you’re doing it strictly for procreation, sex is meant to be pleasurable; however, as many as 3 out of 4 women in the US have reported experiencing dyspareunia, the scientific medical term for painful intercourse. Pain during sex is unfair and worth confronting, and there are a number of reasons why it could be happening. This includes contact dermatitis, endometriosis, vulvodynia, vaginitis, ovarian cysts, or pelvic inflammatory disease. If you’re experiencing painful sex, try using a good lubricant, but if your symptoms don’t improve, it’s important to visit your OBGYN.
Why does my vagina smell?
We’re humans, not dish detergent. Our vaginas are complex organisms that aren’t supposed to smell like citrus and lavender, and it’s a dangerous narrative to perpetuate that they should. However, there are some odors that are normal and others that aren’t. A pungent, fishy smell is an odor to be concerned about and could likely be due to bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis, both luckily treatable with antibiotics.
What causes recurring yeast infections?
Sometimes, it seems as if yeast infections are assigned at random. Your friend may have never had one in her life, yet you seem to get them monthly. While some people are simply more prone, there's a myriad of reasons why you could fall victim to recurring yeast infections. Taking certain medicines (like antibiotics or steroids) can rid the good bacteria in your vagina that helps keep yeast in check. Eating a lot of sugary foods, douching, and wearing tight pants, a wet bathing suit, damp clothing, or non-cotton underwear can also contribute to recurring yeast infections. Making sure probiotics are a part of your supplement regime is key to maintaining healthy vaginal bacteria & balance.
Why do I pee when I sneeze?
Regardless of age, leaking a little urine when you sneeze, laugh, or cough can be embarrassing and annoying. Urinary incontinence is a total loss of bladder control, while stress incontinence is a specific type of urinary incontinence in which you leak urine when applying pressure on your bladder and urethra. It can happen when pelvic floor muscles or urethral sphincter muscles become weak or damaged due to childbirth, a hysterectomy, age, weight, or injury. About 1 in 3 women suffer from stress urinary incontinence at some point, and there are a few self-help techniques that can help you regain control—including kegals, estrogen creams, urinary tract support supplements, as well as limiting caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
What kind of lube should I use?
If you’re suffering from any kind of discomfort during sex, a big reason could very well be that you aren’t properly lubricated. Factors like stress, hormonal changes, birth control, and genetics can affect our vagina’s wetness levels, and by integrating lube into the equation, you help to alleviate that uncomfortable friction and dreaded dryness. While the best kind of lube for you depends on your preference, you should always avoid those “feel good, smell good” formulas containing harsh chemicals known to irritate sensitive vaginal tissue and disrupt your natural pH balance.