Women are advised to schedule a gynecological exam once per year. This is essential to managing health. These visits give patients a chance to discuss their wellness, undergo vital screenings, and make sure everything is ok with their bodies.
However, our physical wellness doesn’t always adhere to that once-per-year schedule. Things can change in the time in between. It’s important to not ignore these changes. Sometimes we experience problems that are temporary and will resolve on their own. Other times, a change may be a symptom of an underlying condition that needs treatment.
It’s best to err on the side of caution and seek medical advice if you notice anything out of the ordinary. What some women struggle with is knowing when they should make that non-routine gynecologist appointment.
Incontinence, or accidental leakage of feces or urine, can happen for different reasons. It is more common among women who are age 50 and older who are past menopause.
If you notice leakage, you should talk to a gynecologist to find out what is the cause and how to treat it. Several treatment methods are available, including diet changes, muscle relaxation, or behavioral therapy. In some cases, medication or surgery may be required.
The first step in managing incontinence is to schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Unexplained Pelvic Pain
Pain in the pelvic region isn’t unusual for menstruating women. This can last for several days but should eventually subside. Most women start to understand what is normal during their period and know what to expect.
If you experience pelvic pain that doesn’t go away or is more severe than usual, you should talk to a gynecologist. You may have a condition called endometriosis, which happens when extra tissue accumulates outside of the uterus and causes inflammation and bleeding. You may also have fibroids, or growths in the uterus.
Unpleasant Vaginal Odor
Regular bathing usually prevents unpleasant body odor. Some odors can be caused by sweating or due to the menstrual cycle. This is normal and can usually be dealt with by bathing. However, persistent, strong, or unusual odor may be a sign that something else is going on.
Bacterial growth or an infection can cause vaginal odor. These conditions may not go away on their own. It’s best to talk to a gynecologist to find out if you need a prescription to treat the infection.
In extreme cases, an unusual odor can also indicate cervical or vaginal cancer. This is less common, but another reason to seek medical treatment right away. If you wonder how important are OBGYN visits, early cancer detection is one of the biggest examples of why you need to stay in touch with your doctor.
Irregular Menstrual Bleeding
Irregular menstrual bleeding can happen, and it doesn’t automatically mean that something is wrong. Some women have irregular periods while others may occasionally bleed between periods. This can show up as spotting during ovulation.
Common causes of irregular bleeding include menopause, hormonal changes, and using hormonal contraception. However, it can also be a symptom of ovarian or uterine cancer. Some women may also have heavy bleeding due to:
- Bleeding disorders
- Thyroid or pituitary gland disorders
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Seeking medical advice is the best way to find a way to treat these conditions. You should also ask your doctor about these 9 health screenings that every woman needs to schedule this year.
Blisters or Bumps in Vagina
If you notice bumps or blisters inside or around your vagina, you may need medical treatment. It could be something minor like an ingrown hair, but it could also be a genital wart. Genital warts are a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease.
Bumps that are painful but go away in a couple of weeks before returning could be a sign of genital herpes. Unfortunately, there is no cure for genital herpes, but your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to prevent and lessen outbreaks.
Sex Has Become Painful
Sexual intercourse should not be painful. If you experience discomfort, then you may need the advice of a doctor. It isn’t easy to talk about this topic, but gynecologists are very familiar with it. The cause could vary, so it’s best to seek medical advice to address any ongoing issues.
Some women may experience dryness during intercourse. A doctor may prescribe estrogen or a lubricant to alleviate the problem.
Pain during intercourse can occur at different stages. It may only happen during entry, while thrusting, or last as throbbing pain for hours afterward. It can also be felt as an aching or burning sensation. If the problem keeps happening, you should talk to your gynecologist.
Sudden Drop in Libido
A number of things can cause a drop in libido. It may be a medical condition, like the side effect of a medication. Antidepressants and blood pressure medication are known to cause a lower sex drive. It can also happen due to mental health concerns, like elevated stress or relationship problems. Excessive alcohol intake can also drop libido.
Your doctor can help determine what is the underlying cause and direct you to a treatment option that will help you restore your libido.
Breast Lump, Sensitivity, or Discharge
Finding a lump in your breast can be scary. Other breast concerns can include a discharge or sudden sensitivity. Most women worry about cancer, but there are other conditions that can cause these symptoms.
If you notice any changes in your breast, you should make an appointment with your gynecologist. Even if you don’t think it’s cancer, it’s best to make sure. Early detection is the key to a good outcome.
The best approach is to contact your gynecologist when you notice any unexplained changes in your body or menstrual cycle. This is especially important when the changes are recurring or when they are severe enough to disrupt your life.