When you see your OB-GYN, it is an opportunity to discuss everything from health concerns to family planning. Our team is here to help you with any questions you may have related to reproductive health and your overall well-being. We understand you may have some questions that you may feel awkward asking. We are here to tell you that you can and should ask anyway. If you have a question you feel uncomfortable about, you can lead with “I feel uncomfortable asking this but I want more information on ‘fill-in-the-blank.’”
It doesn’t matter if it is your first time visiting with us or your 20th time visiting with us – we want you to feel comfortable, well-informed, and of course healthy. Speak up and ask those questions.
We are sharing some answers to some questions that many feel embarrassed to ask at times. We hope you find this helpful!
1. I’m nervous about my OB-GYN visit and having to remove my clothes. What can I do to feel less anxious about this?
This is a normal feeling especially if it is your first visit. It may be helpful to you to ask a friend, family member, or someone else you trust how they address these feelings. It is also a good idea to let your doctor know how you are feeling too. Your doctor can help put you at ease.
2. Should I still keep my OB-GYN appointment if I am on my period or should I reschedule it?
It is okay to be on your period during a pelvic exam. However, it is better to go on a non-period day due to the fact it could interfere with your pap smear results. Call your doctor’s office to tell them why you need to reschedule your appointment.
3. Does it matter if I shave or wax before my visit?
Only if you have a spot that conceals something that you have concerns or questions about – then you can trim that area to better identify the spot. Otherwise, leave it however you feel most comfortable.
4. Does my vulva, labia, and/or vagina look normal?
Like many things regarding the female body, there are unrealistic beauty standards that tend to make women feel self-conscious or different. People in general come in different shapes and sizes. We are all somewhat similar and we have our own characteristics. That is perfectly fine.
However, if you notice abnormal growths or changes, please let your gynecologist know so they can perform an examination.
5. Should a vagina have an odor?
A vagina will never be completely odorless. Like our digestive tract and other parts of the body, the vagina is a complex ecosystem with various bacteria, as well as different secretions. Things like diet, activity, weather, and undergarment material can have an effect.
It’s essential to understand what is normal for you and what is not normal for you, and you can always ask your gynecologist if you have concerns.
6. I have a lot of vaginal discharge. Is that normal?
Yes, discharge is normal! The color and consistency of your discharge can change throughout your menstrual cycle, and it increases during pregnancy due to changes in hormone levels. If you notice any discomfort such as itching, burning, or pain – that may indicate that there is an underlying problem like an infection and should be evaluated if you are concerned.
7. I have some bumps “down there”. Is that normal?
The vulva and vagina are generally not perfectly smooth. There are many reasons you might feel small bumps such as hair follicles, Fordyce spots (normal tiny bumps on the vagina), and ingrown hairs. However, you should alert your gynecologist to anything that is newly discovered, especially if it’s painful or enlarging, as that could be a sign of something more serious.
8. Is it normal to experience itching “down there”?
Itching can be caused by yeast infections, sensitivities to detergents and/or bath soaps, or inflammatory skin conditions. It’s rarely a sign of something serious in pre-menopausal patients. If it doesn’t happen often, make sure to wear breathable cotton undergarments and avoid scented soaps “down there.’’ And if it becomes bothersome, alert your doctor, especially if it doesn’t go away or if you are post-menopausal.
9. Why do I experience pain during sex?
Pain during sex may be a sign of a gynecologic problem, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis. Pain during sex also may be caused by problems with sexual response, such as a lack of desire or a lack of arousal.
10. Is there less risk of getting pregnant if I have sex a few days after my period?
On average, cycles last 21-35 days, with an average cycle length of 28 days. If your cycle falls within this range and is consistent (always 27 days or always 31 days), then you should not be ovulating during the first few days after your cycle. Those with shorter cycles (21 days) should be more careful. You may want to try using a menstrual tracking app to help you identify (and possibly avoid) your “fertile window.”
This method of contraception is less effective than most other methods. Ask your doctor what birth control method would be best for you.
11. Can I have sex during pregnancy?
Yes, but certain pregnancy conditions may prohibit you from having sexual intercourse, including placenta previa (the placenta lies low in the uterus and partially covers the cervix), preterm labor, or cervical insufficiency (premature shortening/thinning or dilation of the cervix early in pregnancy). If you are experiencing vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy, ask your doctor before resuming sexual intercourse.
12. I recently had a vaginal birth. Will my vagina ever be the same again?
If you had a vaginal delivery, your vagina should be well healed by 6 weeks after birth. However, if you experienced vaginal tearing during delivery, it could take approximately 8 to 12 weeks for your vagina to fully heal.
If you have passed the typically healing stages and you are still having discomfort during sex, it’s important to talk to your doctor to explore the options (exercises, techniques, rejuvenation, and reconstruction surgeries) that may work best for you.
13. What should I do if I had unprotected sex with someone and haven’t gotten tested for STDs?
Tell your OB-GYN and get tested. If there is a concern for exposure to STDs or HIV, there are preventative treatments that can be started.
14. I don’t seem to ever be in the mood anymore. Should I be concerned about the change in my sex drive?
A change in your sex drive can be due to certain medications you are taking, medical conditions, stress, relationship dynamics, sexual function, and life stressors.
15. How can I tell if my PMS symptoms are normal and what is more serious?
If your premenstrual syndrome symptoms are interfering with personal relationships or your ability to perform normal functions at your job or school, it should be evaluated.
16. How soon can I find out if I am pregnant?
You can take a pregnancy test as soon as you’ve missed your period. However, waiting at least one week after you’ve missed your period is best to get the most accurate results.
17. How often should I get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
It is wise to be screened annually when you are sexually active. Regular testing helps find and treat STDs/STIs you may not even know you have. Talk to your healthcare provider about a testing schedule that makes sense for you. Many healthcare providers recommend once a year or before having sex with a new partner.
18. What’s the best way to protect myself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
Barrier methods such as male or female condoms, dental dams, and regular STI testing for both yourself and your partners. Being truthful about your sexual health with your partner will open the door for your partner to be honest with you in return. It could prevent you from transmitting or receiving an STI.
19. How can I talk to my partner about STIs?
Try to ease into the conversation if you find it to be difficult to bring up. For example, you can say something like, “I wanted to let you know that I try to make it a habit to ask a new partner if they have had any past infections. I recently was tested (or am about to be tested) and wanted to know if that is something you practice as well?” You could offer to go with him/her if that’s something you’re both comfortable with.
Ask Your Gynecologist Questions
When it comes to your health, it is so important to be informed. Try not to be nervous and ask questions. Even as uncomfortable as it may be you should have the answers you need.
We get it you could go searching for these answers online and that is a good idea too. However, it is best to get personalized answers. Not everyone will get the same response on certain topics because sometimes other factors come into play.
OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch is more than happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. We are here for you through every stage of life.