Whether you are going to the OBGYN for the first time, or have been going for many years, it can be uncomfortable to share private information about your body with your gynecologist. Like you, we are women too, so we have been in your shoes. We have put together a guide of five things you should talk with your gynecologist about to help get the conversation started.
Painful, Heavy, or Irregular Periods
As women, we are often discouraged to discuss our menstrual cycle. Because of this, it can be hard to know if your period is “normal”, or if something you are experiencing is due to an underlying medical issue.
Heavy periods can mean different things to different women, so it is very important that you talk to your gynecologist if you are experiencing any of the below symptoms.
- If you experience bleeding after menopause.
- A heavy period that is causing you to soak a pad or a tampon every one to two hours.
- Passing large clots. Some clotting is normal, but heavy clots could be a cause for concern.
Heavy periods can be caused by a number of things such as uterine fibroids, hormonal imbalance, polyps, uterine hyperplasia, or cancer. Painful periods may also be a sign of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Your gynecologist can help you figure out why your periods are abnormally heavy and painful and recommend treatment that can provide relief.
Irregular periods can be normal in the adolescent years after getting your period the first time, but not as you mature. A typical menstrual cycle is anywhere from 21 to 35 days. As with heavy bleeding, every woman is different, but if you have a hard time predicting when you are going to have your period, be sure to speak with your gynecologist.
Birth Control Option and Symptoms
Your gynecologist is the best person to talk with about forms of birth control and what might be the right choice for you.
- The birth control pill is an effective and non-permanent form of birth control. The pill is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy with typical use and with plenty of brands and strengths to choose from, your gynecologist can help find which pill is right for you. Common side effects of the pill include nausea, weight gain, mood changes, decreased libido, and breakthrough spotting.
- The Depo-subQ Provera, Depo-Provera birth control shot is another form of birth control you can speak with your gynecologist about. The shot is 94% accurate in preventing pregnancy and lasts for 3 months at a time. Common side effects of the birth control shot can include acne, headaches, weight gain, and may cause breakthrough spotting during the first year.
- Xulane or more commonly known as the birth control patch is another form of birth control that you change weekly for three weeks at a time and then leave off one week for your period. The patch can be worn on any part of the body but is most commonly worn on the buttocks, upper outer arm, lower abdomen or upper body. This patch is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy if used correctly. Effectiveness is decreased with a weight greater than 198 pounds. Common side effects can include migraines, nausea, breast tenderness, or changes in mood.
- Skyla, Kylena, Mirena, and Paragard are the choices if you are considering an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control. The IUD is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and can be left anywhere from 3-10 years, varying by the brand. Commons side effects of the IUD are irregular bleeding for the first few months, headaches, nausea, and acne.
- The NuvaRing is a small, flexible plastic ring that sits at the base of your cervix and you change it once a month. NuvaRing is a form of birth control that is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy with typical use. Common side effects include nausea, spotting, migraines, and changes in mood.
- The Nexplanon is a form of birth control that is inserted into your arm and is effective for three years. The Nexplanon is over 99% accurate in preventing pregnancy. Common side effects include acne, irregular periods, and headaches.
- At West Des Moines OBGYN, we know hormonal birth control is not for everyone. If you decide a non-hormone plan is best for you, be sure to speak with your gynecologist about a fertility awareness method.
Every woman should be familiar with their breasts. Giving yourself a breast exam once a month can help guide the conversation with your gynecologist if you feel something you are unsure of is normal. Self-exams can be done once a month in the shower or while you are laying down. Here are a few steps to getting started with a breast exam at home.
Step 1: Using a circular motion, feel for lumps, hardened tissue, or anything else that seems abnormal. Be sure to also check under your armpits.
Step 2: Examine your breasts in the mirror and look for changes in color or texture, and make sure there aren’t any spots.
Step 3: Lay down on the bed after your shower, and perform the same circular motions you did in the shower, and be sure to note if there is any soreness.
For more ways to do a self-exam, or if you feel something is not normal or you have questions, be sure to speak with your gynecologist at your next visit.
Talking about your sexual history can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, but at West Des Moines OBGYN we have heard it all! It is important to tell your gynecologist about any past STDs or conditions you have been diagnosed with. Although your STD may be gone, there may still be lasting effects that your gynecologist can talk through with you.
Your gynecologist can also help answer questions or find the cause of pain during intercourse. Pain during sex does not just happen during menopause, it can be a symptom of birth control, endometriosis, or other underlying medical issues. Bleeding during intercourse should also be discussed with your gynecologist. Bleeding can be caused by dryness, infections or other underlying issues and talking about this during your visit can help your gynecologist help you effectively.
Pregnancy and Fertility
Your obstetrician is a great resource to talk with about fertility and becoming pregnant or if you are currently pregnant. Your obstetrician can offer advice on topics ranging from ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, early signs of pregnancy, and also early signs of infertility. They can also offer genetic carrier screening, Foresight, prior to pregnancy
At West Des Moines OBGYN, our priority is you and your baby. We will always put your needs first and develop the appropriate care plan for you. Whether you’re trying to become pregnant for the first time or are expecting another child, we are here to help you along the way. Schedule an appointment today and experience the difference at West Des Moines OBGYN.