20 million new individuals contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) every year.
It’s a terrifying number, and a good reason to visit a gynecologist routinely. It’s not, however, the only reason.
From gaining control over your periods to preventing certain cancers, regularly seeing a gyno is essential to the health of anyone with female reproductive organs.
Health experts recommend that females start visiting a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15. It’s important that these visits begin before individuals become sexually active. Puberty is also a difficult time, and becoming familiar with a gynecologist and their services can be beneficial.
Around the age of 21, it’s recommended that women start getting a pelvic exam once a year. Even so, studies show that 26% of women don’t see a gynecologist at all.
If you’re wondering when to see a gynecologist or if an appointment could help you, there are symptoms to look out for.
Read on for 7 signs that you should see your gyno.
1. Something Doesn’t Smell Right
A healthy and properly functioning vagina will release a small amount of discharge on occasion. You may have noticed this on your underwear or at any other time, and it’s completely normal.
This bit of discharge, however, is usually odorless.
If you notice a significant change in quantity, color, or a foul smell, it’s probably time to schedule an appointment with your gyno.
These changes can be signs of an STI or yeast infection.
2. You’re Experiencing Itchiness or Burning
Another sign to call your gynecologist is if you begin to experience uncomfortable sensations such as itching or burning.
There are several possible explanations for itching and burning, one of which is an infection or STI
A fairly common infection is a urinary tract infection (UTI) that can occasionally be helped by drinking lots of water and cranberry juice. A UTI that gets out of control, though, can lead to a severe kidney infection.
If you experience this sensation after sex, there’s a possibility you’re allergic to the latex in most condoms. This is more common than you would think.
Your gynecologist can help you determine the cause of your discomfort and determine preventive or treatment plans.
3. Your Period Is Incredibly Painful
It’s that time of the month and we hate it. Mood swings, cravings, and cramps take over.
While these symptoms are normal, some women experience worse pain than others. Their cramps are debilitating and they can hardly move when they hit.
If this sounds like you, a visit to the gyno might help.
You might learn that it’s the result of a fibroid that needs treatment, or that your heavy period is the culprit. If this is the case, your gyno can write you a prescription or even help you choose a birth control method that can help. Some birth control pills allow you to lessen or stop your period, giving you control over the symptoms.
4. Your PMS is Out of Control
While some women experience more intense cramping, others have extreme PMS symptoms.
If your emotions before or during your period seem more heavily impacted than others you know, you might have premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD).
PMDD can negatively impact your life as symptoms can include increased conflict with others, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
A gynecologist can discern if you’re suffering from PMDD and give you the help you need.
5. Sex is Painful
Another sign for when to see a gynecologist is experiencing painful sex.
While sex can be a bit painful at times, extreme or sudden pain can be signs of underlying issues. Examples include fibroids, STDs, or even ruptured cysts.
If you have always experienced a bit of pain, you can try practicing more foreplay, using lubricants, or changing positions.
If the pain is new, sudden, or extremely intense, however, then a visit to the gyno is in order.
6. You Want Different Birth Control
Different types of birth control work for different people. This can be due to general preference, such as preferring to take a pill every day versus only thinking about it every 5-10 years in exchange for having an IUD implant.
Another reason to try something new is if you’re experiencing changes in your body or mood. Some birth controls are hormone-based and might not be right for everyone.
Certain birth controls also risk making your period heavier or stopping it altogether.
Talking to a gynecologist can help you decide on which birth control method is right for you.
There are plenty of options between patches, implants, shots, pills, NuvaRings, and IUDs. Each type has its own variants as well.
7. You’re Bleeding In Between Periods
Bleeding a little bit in between your period is called spotting and is normal for most women.
If you begin to bleed more than normal at this time, though, it’s important to keep an eye on. If your spotting becomes heavy, frequent, or painful, you should see your gyno right away.
This can be a sign of infection, cysts, and in rare cases, cancer. As discussed earlier, certain contraception methods can also result in period changes, and a different method might be needed.
These are questions your gynecologist can answer for you.
Know When to See a Gynecologist
While an annual pelvic exam is recommended, there are symptoms that warrant an extra visit to the gyno.
If you’re wondering when to see a gynecologist, keep an eye on any changes you experience. Changes in the color or order of vaginal discharge; sensations such as itching or burning; painfulness of sex; or heavy bleeding in-between periods mean you should set up an appointment.
Even symptoms you may have experienced your entire life, from debilitating cramps and unusually intense mood swings can be helped with a visit.
Every person is different, and it takes a specialized doctor to make sure your female reproductive organs are in top health and treated according to those differences.
If you live in New York, be sure to check out our gynecological services.