Gynecologists specialize in the area of reproductive medicine in women. They help women with pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation, hormone disorders, and other issues specific to the female body. Preteens, teens, and adults should visit with their gynecologist regularly. There are other times when a visit is necessary outside of the regular gynecological visits. Here we share the recommendations of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and information about when a visit to your provider is prudent.
When You Notice Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
Changes in your menstrual cycle are your body’s way of communicating to you that there is a problem. If you should suddenly stop getting your regular regularly or if you notice that the dates of your period are starting to change from month to month, check with your provider as soon as you can. Often the first sign of pregnancy is that your period has not come.
Getting prenatal care as early into your pregnancy is critical to having a healthy baby. Fluctuations and changes in your period could also signal a condition that requires monitoring or treatment.
When You Begin Menopause and throughout this Period
Changes in the degree and frequency of your cycle can signal that you are perimenopausal or menopausal.
While this usually happens when you are in your 50’s, it can start earlier. Communicate your symptoms to your doctor and allow them to help you navigate this period in your life.
When You Have Occurrences of Irregular Bleeding
Bleeding between periods or during or after intercourse is abnormal and needs to be checked out by your gynecologist. Bleeding can indicate a cervix injury, uterine polyps, and fibroids or even cervical or uterine cancer. Catching these conditions early on is critical in achieving a favorable outcome.
When You Experience Pain or Discomfort
Vaginal discomfort can signal urinary tract, bacterial or yeast infections. It can also be a sign of having contracted a sexually transmitted disease. If you notice vaginal itching, burning, or pain, you should consult with your doctor to manage and treat your condition. While yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter treatments, your first experience with the condition warrants a gynecologist’s visit.
When You Have a Condition That Requires Antibiotics
Antibiotics help treat conditions like ear infections, strep throat, and upper respiratory infections as they kill off harmful bacteria. But antibiotics can also eliminate the bacteria that are beneficial to your body. When this “good bacteria” is not present in your body, this leads to the development of yeast infections.
When You Have Fertility or Contraception Issues or Concerns
When you are planning to have a baby, it is important to consult with your doctor. This is especially true if you have been trying for a while, have irregular periods or other conditions. Your doctor is also there to help you decide and implement the right contraceptive method for you.
When You Become Pregnant
With these visits, your provider can catch any potential concerns early on and prevent or manage pregnancy or birth complications.
When it is Time for Preventative Health and Age-Related Visits
- Your First Appointment. Having regular visits to see your gynecologist is necessary. Your first visit should be between 13 and 15, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Another rule of thumb is that you should see your gynecologist within two or three years of becoming sexually active. At the latest, your first visit should be by the age of 21. Starting early on allows you to develop a relationship with your provider and get comfortable sharing useful information with them.
- Regular Appointments – You should continue to see your provider every three years—the recommendation used to be once every year. Doctors conduct pap smears to detect cancer cells within the cervix. The pelvic exam detects any abnormalities and identifies STD’s and other issues. Now Pap and human papillomavirus tests should be once every five years. If you should have an irregular pap smear, changes in your cycle, or pain, you may want to visit each year. Speak with your provider and decide together how often you should have your regular exams. How often you need to visit your doctor for routine appointments will depend on your personal and family history and any specific issues you may be having.
- Your Last Appointment – Women can continue to see their gynecologist even after menopause. When you reach 70 and have no irregular pap smears and no new sexual partners, you can stop the yearly visits.
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT Your First Visit
We are here to help you answer any questions you have. The first step is to make an appointment with your doctor today with our licensed, board-certified physicians today.