7 Cringe-Worthy Conversations You Should Have with Your OB/GYN
Working up the courage to ask an uncomfortable question at your annual exam? Take my professional advice: Just blurt it out. OB/GYNs deal with delicate subjects every day. In fact, it’s what we train for in medical school. An issue you initially find embarrassing might end up improving or even saving your life.
So if you’re experiencing angst due to scenarios like these, speak up:
1. Dreading the Pap smear because it’s painful or makes you uncomfortable? We understand that manual exams and Pap smears can feel intrusive and can even be triggering for some women. Let us know, so we can adjust our approach to minimize your discomfort. This advice applies at any point during the exam.
2. Covering up that smelly discharge, because you’re embarrassed? Trying to disguise a smell can hide a health condition that needs to be diagnosed. Believe it or not, you can be too clean for a Pap smear. Trying to clean the inside of your vagina can remove cervical cells your physician needs to screen. Gynecologists agree: Don’t douche, because your vagina is self-cleaning. Also, don’t fret about your bikini line. Our focus is strictly medical, so we won’t judge your personal grooming choices.
3. Embarrassed to admit you’re extra moody? Emotional ups and downs around your period are something women try to take in stride. But if your moods are affecting your relationships or feel extreme, it’s time to address the issue. Your OB/GYN can recommend a range of strategies from lifestyle changes to medications.
4. Avoiding sneezing or laughing in public due to a leaky bladder? On average, women wait five to seven years to bring this issue up to a health care provider. Don’t suffer in silence. A variety of over-the-counter treatments and techniques can bring relief. Medication is also an option. And if surgery is necessary, some procedures are minimally invasive and can even be done on an outpatient basis.
5. Suffering with heavy, uncomfortable periods? What’s heavy to one woman might feel average to another. But if your period lasts seven or more days, or you regularly soak through a pad or tampon in an hour, it’s time to tell your OB/GYN. The cause might be a simple hormone imbalance or something more serious like uterine fibroids, cancer or another health condition. Your OB/GYN will recommend screening tests and can also offer simple advice for coping, such as trying a menstrual cup or making lifestyle changes.
6. Curious about your sex drive or other intimate issues? It might make you blush, but remember that sex is part of life, and it’s also part of your gynecologist’s training. A lagging libido could be a hormone issue that needs to be addressed. You should always mention painful intercourse. It might be a simple matter of lubrication — or it could be a serious health issue. Give your doctor a chance to use his/her training to improve your health and quality of life.
7. Worried you might have a sexually transmitted disease? Screening for sexually transmitted diseases is confidential and you’ll be treated professionally and discreetly. If you have unprotected sex, or think your partner may be sexually active outside of your relationship, please speak up. We’re not here to judge. We are here to provide the care you need.