9 Totally Not Weird Questions You Should Be Asking Your Gynecologist
Gynecologists reveal the honest questions they want more women to ask their doctors.
How can I tell if I have a vaginal infection?
“Discharge that is green, dark yellow, or brown and has a foul odor is most often a sign of an infection and should be reported to your gynecologist,” explains Sheeva Talebian, MD, OB/GYN at CCRM New York and co-founder of Truly-MD. “Most infections are related to sexual intercourse but not always. They can also be caused by a tampon that has been left in too long, a cervical lesion, or poor hygiene. Any change that is not pleasant (in terms of pain, foul smell, color, or consistency) should be checked out!” Dr. Talebian says.
Sometimes I bleed after sex. Is this normal?
“Bleeding after sex can be normal but should not be ignored,” advises Dr. Talebian says. “If you notice this once, there’s no need to panic and call the emergency line of your OB/GYN, but if you do notice this is happening consistently, you should go in for an exam. Bleeding can simply be from a ‘sensitive cervix’ (one with exposed blood vessels) but it can also be from a cervical or vaginal lesion, something that needs to be tested and rarely can be cancer. Bleeding during intercourse can also come from the endometrial cavity (like menstrual blood). While most causes of bleeding during and after sex are benign, they should not be ignored,” Dr. Talebian explains. Ready to get personal? Check out these other sex questions you might want to ask your OB/GYN.
I “forgot” to use protection. What should I do?
“You should use emergency contraception if you don’t want to get pregnant,” Dr. Talebian says. “You should also go in to see your gynecologist a few weeks after the episode to do STD testing. Immediate testing (as in the next day) will often be negative. Unfortunately, there are no remedies to erase the event. I would not recommend douching or any sort of self-cleansing because this could aggravate the tissue and increase chances of infection.”
What age is too young for menopause?
“There really is no age too early for menopause,” says Mache Seibel, MD, OB/GYN, Harvard Medical School faculty member, and author. “About 5 to 10 percent of women enter menopause before age 46. And the symptoms begin up to ten years before that. If you have symptoms such as foggy brain, lack of energy or hot flashes, feel too tired, or have heart palpitations or low libido, it could be menopause or premenopause,” he says. Never heard of the term ‘premenopause’ before now? If not, be on the lookout for these vital warning signs.
When is it OK to stop using condoms with a partner?
“If you have been with a consistent partner, you are both monogamous, and you have transitioned to hormonal contraception or an IUD, then it is OK to stop using condoms once you have both been tested for STDs,” Dr. Talebian says.
Does estrogen cause breast cancer?
“There has been a lot of confusion about this question,” Dr. Mache says. “The fact is, a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative (or WHI) suggested incorrectly that it does. But when the same data was reevaluated a decade later and the patients matched by age, it was found that estrogen is beneficial in most patients and safe to take. In fact, for women without a uterus and who require estrogen only (without a progestin), the risk of cancer was actually 23 percent less than placebo and the risk of heart disease was 32 percent lower. The secret is the Estrogen Window, which is the name of my book and means that there is a window of opportunity in which estrogen can be taken safely. The best age is 50 to 59. If menopause starts earlier, then begin it at that time. The risks increase as women begin estrogen over the age of 60 to 65,” Dr. Mache explains. When it comes to breast cancer treatment, there’s a lot your doctor wishes you knew.
Is it true that I might miscarry if I get pregnant shortly after quitting my birth control?
“There is a myth that you should not get pregnant right after stopping birth control because miscarriage risk is higher,” Dr. Talebian says. “This is incorrect. If you stop birth control with plans to conceive, you can try immediately. If you do not get a period and have a negative pregnancy test after about eight weeks off the pill, you should speak with your doctor. This may be a sign that you are not ovulating.”
Is it okay to have such frequent discharge?
“Discharge is normal in women! This is why we wear underwear and why ‘panty-liners’ are needed. Discharge changes in quantity and consistency during the menstrual cycle based on your hormones. Normal discharge is often clear to white, and sometimes a faint yellow,” Dr. Talebian says.
I’m still having periods in my late forties. Do I still need birth control?
“Absolutely,” says Dr. Mache. “Every year I see a patient who is in her late 40s or older who is surprised by an unexpected pregnancy. If you still have periods, you still need birth control.” Find out 13 more things your vagina wishes you knew.