Many women associate their annual OB-GYN visits with pelvic exams and pap smears, but these appointments are great opportunities to address a variety of other health concerns as well. Your OB-GYN can counsel you on your risk of heart disease, for example, because many early symptoms of heart disease in women are related to hormonal changes and pregnancy complications. During your visit, you can also discuss your family health history; set diet and exercise goals; and ask any questions you might have about your sexual and reproductive health.
It can be hard to know what questions to ask your OB-GYN, so we put together a quick list to get you started.
How should I perform a breast self-exam?
Breast self-exams are very effective at detecting early signs of breast cancer, but many women don’t perform them regularly, or aren’t sure if they’re performing them correctly. Your OB-GYN can walk you through the process of performing a proper self-exam, and give you a better idea of what to look out for during the exam. This way, you can feel more confident and comfortable performing these essential exams at home.
What birth control option is right for me?
Your choice of birth control will ultimately be a personal decision, but your OB-GYN can advise you on what options are best-suited to your lifestyle and health history. The good news is, women have never had access to more birth control options than they have today. These include pills, condoms and patches, as well as long-term options like implants and IUDs. If you’ve had trouble with one birth control method in the past, chances are there’s another option that will work better for you.
Should I be concerned about vaginal discharge?
In most cases, small amounts of clear or milky-looking vaginal discharge are nothing to worry about. In fact, this discharge is an important component of vaginal health that helps flush old cells out of the body. If you notice sudden changes in the color, consistency or amount of discharge, however, it could be a sign of a bacterial infection. Your OB-GYN can help you differentiate between normal, healthy discharge and other types of discharge that might be cause for concern.
Why am I struggling with low libido?
Changes in sexual desire are normal, and they can be influenced by a myriad of psychological, physical and medical factors. But if a persistently low libido is having a negative effect on your relationships or personal well-being, your OB-GYN can help you get to the root of the issue. Be sure to mention any medications or supplements you’re taking, as these may have side effects that cause a reduction in your sex drive.
Should I be doing pelvic floor exercises?
Also known as Kegels, pelvic floor exercises are designed to strengthen the core muscles that support a women’s uterus, bladder and bowels. In addition to making the delivery process easier for pregnant women, strong pelvic floor muscles can also help to prevent conditions such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. With this in mind, it’s a good idea for all women to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles with regular exercise. Your OB-GYN can work with you to develop a pelvic floor exercise regimen, and even suggest training tools that are designed to make Kegels more effective.
These are just a few of the many questions you can ask during a visit with your OB-GYN.
Before your next well-woman visit, consider making a list of personalized questions that are tailored to your unique health concerns and curiosities. Maybe you experienced more cramping than usual during a recent period, or you’re wondering if changes in your mood might be side effects of the birth control you’re taking. Your OB-GYN will be happy to answer questions like these and offer suggestions on how to live a healthier, happier life in the coming year.
To learn more about how you can make the most of your next well-woman visit, check out our earlier blog post and infographic here!