Knowledge is power, and nowhere is this truer than when it comes to your health. Sure, a visit to the ob-gyn is likely not your favorite way to spend an afternoon, but it is one of the easiest ways to keep in regular check with your health. Knowing the right questions to ask your gynecologist can make these important check-ups not only more comfortable but also productive. Read on for five essential questions to ask your gynecologist on your next visit.
1. What’s the right birth control for me?
There have never been more options when it comes to birth control, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Since methods vary widely with regard to cost, efficacy, and how hands-on you have to be, it can be valuable to talk things through with your gynecologist. It’s also a good opportunity to get real-time answers to questions like how an IUD works or what the hormonal effects of the pill might be.
2. Do I need a mammogram?
While annual mammograms are typically recommended starting at age 40 or 45, some women may wish to start earlier if there’s a family history of breast cancer. Regardless of age, it’s a good idea to perform regular breast exams on your own. Your gynecologist will palpate the area during your regular check-up and can also lend some advice on performing self-exams at home.
3. Why am I experiencing vaginal pain?
If you’re experiencing any kind of vaginal discomfort, this is one of the most important questions to ask your gynecologist. If you experience regular pain (say, on your period or during sex), it’s a good idea to note this. Not all pain is unusual, and your ob-gyn is there to help. Come to your appointment ready to describe the frequency, severity, and location of the pain.
4. Should I be concerned about my vaginal discharge?
Some forms of vaginal discharge are perfectly normal (and essential), but others may indicate an issue with your health, such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Abnormal discharge is often accompanied by a change in color, odor, texture, or a dramatic difference in the amount of fluid. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to track down the cause—they will be able to help point you toward the right treatment.
5. How frequently should I be tested for STIs/STDs?
This is an important question to ask your gynecologist, whether you’re happily single or committed to a single partner. Because the symptoms of many STIs can remain latent for years, it’s important to get tested regularly. Adding this to your list of questions to ask your gynecologist will safeguard your reproductive health and your peace of mind.