By Michael Krychman, MD FACOG
Most women have a special and unique relationship with their gynecologist or female health care provider. Sometimes during the annual examination, you may feel rushed or hurried, but there are some important aspects to discuss with your health care professional. Here is a small list of important topics to cover. Mark them down and take them to your next medical visit.
1-Have your menstrual periods changed?
It’s important to discuss if your periods have become painful, and if the amount of days your bleeding has changed. Are your periods coming more frequently? Sometimes these changes can signal some important underlying hormonal changes that warrant further investigation. Pain during your period can be safely evaluated and treated, so discuss this concern with your gynecologist who can provide some guidance and potential therapies.
2- Do you have a sexual problem?
Sexual complaints are not infrequent, and many women suffer from recurrent vaginal dryness which can lead to painful intercourse. Sex should not hurt. There are many treatable medical conditions that can be assessed and treated to eliminate this condition. Many women experience problems achieving orgasm; some women report increased time to achieve substantial arousal and lowered intensity or strength of orgasms. Other women report declining sexual interest or changes in their libido. Sexual problems are real medical conditions which can be treated.
3- Do you have a vaginal odor?
It’s important to discuss any change in vaginal discharge or odor with your health care professional. This change may mean that your vaginal pH is altered, and you could have an underlying medical problem. Foul or fishy smell may indicate an infection! At times it could indicate that there is a foreign body or a part of a tampon or condom in the vagina. Ignoring a vaginal odor can lead to more serious pelvic infections.
4-Give an honest and complete sexual history
Talking about your sexual history with your health care provider may not be an easy topic, but it’s important to disclose how many sexual partners you have had, if you have had same sex intimacy or if you are having unprotected intercourse. A frank and honest discussion will help develop a comprehensive understanding about contraceptive options, HPV and sexually transmitted disease risk.
5- Discuss any abuse or harassment
Discuss any sexual, emotional, physical or domestic violence that you have experienced; it is a sensitive and delicate topic but may have overall effects on your medical and mental health. While it is very difficult to disclose this information, your health care professional will safeguard the information. The information will better help your medical professional to take care of you as a complete person. They may offer suggestions, specific treatments or referral to better assist you in coping with these problematic issues.