Vaginal itching? Sex during your period? A different smell down there? Leaky bladder?
These burning questions can often send women straight to Googleâas they’re too uncomfortable to ask their doctor. Does this sound familiar? It’s completely normal to feel awkward, but remember — your gynecologist has heard it all, and more.
Answering uncomfortable, or even scary, questions is your doctor’s job.
Your job is to speak up about your health. Come prepared to your next appointment with these and other questions to ask your gynecologist, all of which they’ve heard before!
Preparing for Gynecologist Visit
Write down and bring your questions.
When you’re anxious, it’s easy to lose your nerve or forget what you wanted to ask, so write everything down. When making your list, don’t be afraid to get real. Your doctor won’t be shocked, even if you find the topic a little embarrassing.
Get the awkward stuff out of the way first.
Your doctor will usually ask you a few questions before your exam. This is your one-on-one time to get the support you need. With your list in hand, use this time to go through your questions.
Bring the dates of your last monthly period.
One question youshould count on answering at your gynecologist visit is when you had your most recent period. Jot down the dates—when it started and when it ended.
Answer your doctor’s questions honestly.
Especially when it comes to your sex life, sexual history and any health concerns you have, it’s important to be up front with your gynecologist. They’re here to help, not judge, but they can only do that having all the information.
If you feel like your doctor is judging you, or not helping because of personal views, it’s time to switch doctors.
Prioritize your health.
Visit your OB-GYN once a year.
PRO TIP:Set a reminder on your digital planner to schedule your next visit.
Questions to Ask Your Gynecologist
Is that smell normal?
Here’s the secret. Every woman smells different down there depending on what you eat, drink, even the medications you take. Pungent foods, spices and alcohol leak into vaginal secretions and can create intense smells. Vaginal odor is also common on your period or after strenuous workouts.
Bottom line? Don’t sweat vaginal odor too much. But if it keeps bugging you or the odor turns “fishy,” see your doctor sooner than later. It could be a sign of infection.
Should I clean my vagina?
Vaginal cleansing is one of the most controversial women’s health topics. And with good reason. An abundance of over-the-counter feminine hygiene products tempt women to self-cleanse. Know that it’s best to avoid putting any cleansers up into the vagina. Stick to gently cleaning the vulva and labia daily with water and fragrance-free soap and, if you’re still concerned about feeling clean, bring it up at your appointment.
Why don’t I want to have sex?
Balancing life, work and family, being postpartum and changes to medications—it can all affect your sex drive. Hormonal imbalances like low estrogen or hypothyroidism and plenty of other factors can also do a number on your libido. But it doesn’t have to be forever. Speak up about your sex life, or lack thereof, so your gynecologist can better understand how to help you reignite the flame.
Is it PMS or something more serious?
As the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone take a nosedive each month, it’s common to feel moody. What isn’t normal is being unable to function, feeling depressed and hopeless, or feeling so irritable or rageful that you snap at people. These symptoms can signal premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is treatable, so mention it to your doctor if this sounds like you.
Is sex safe during my period?
If your partner is down with getting physical during your monthly flow, you might be wondering if you should give the green light. For the most part, there’s no medical reason you need to abstain.
What if I’m pregnant?
If you’re pregnant, your doctor can advise you whether it’s safe based on your pregnancy and any existing medical conditions. Generally, normal sexual activity is safe throughout your whole pregnancy.
Why am I itchy down there?
Itchy britches can definitely cause anxiety, and with good reason. Itching can be a telltale sign of STDs or yeast infections—or simply too-tight pants. Because it’s hard to know when you should worry on your own, make sure to let your doctor know what’s been going on, especially if the itching persists after you shower.
Should I be tested for an STD?
If you’re wondering about being tested, it probably means you should be. When you’re sexually active, STDs are a real possibility. In fact, 20 million new STDs occur each year in the U.S. and cause infertility in over 24,000 women when left undiagnosed. If there’s even a chance you could have an STD, let your doctor know. They can recommend testing and treatment.
Should I worry about that painful bump?
First things first—don’t panic. Painful bumps near the vagina or labia are common, and they don’t automatically signal an STD. When a bump pops up down below, it’s often a pimple or ingrown hair (called folliculitis) caused by shaving. But if the bump and pain sticks around more than a few days, be sure to tell your doctor as it could be a cyst, genital warts or herpes.
How do I do a self breast exam?
If you’re not yet paying attention to your breasts, you should. While less than 5% of breast cancer cases in women are under age 40, all women should regularly check their breasts for lumps, bumps and changes, as early breast cancer detection leads to the best outcomes. Your gynecologist can show you the right way to perform a self-exam, and what to look for. And self-exams are easy to work into your self-care routine, such as during your daily shower.
Is it normal to pee when I sneeze or laugh?
The fear of leakage doesn’t have to kill your vibe. While bladder leaks, sometimes called fallen bladder, is common in women who have given birth, bladder issues can cause incontinence in women without children, too. So if you’re peeing when you laugh, sneeze or exercise, know it’s not uncommon and it’s not something you have to live with. Your doctor can help.
If you need answers to these questions or others about your health, we’re here to help.