While routine, OB-GYN visits can be uncomfortable for many women. No matter how professional and likable an OB-GYN is, gynecological exams and tests may be stressful. That's why many women find themselves struggling to remember which questions to ask during a visit.
Questions related to gynecology and obstetrics need to be addressed timely. With the average OB-GYN appointment lasting 20 to 30 minutes, it can be hard to obtain extensive answers.
Let's take a closer look at the five most common questions patients want to ask OB-GYNs, but not all of them find the time to do it.
1. Is my period normal?
When it comes to periods, normal has an extremely broad definition. A menstrual cycle can vary depending on many factors, including age, stress levels, birth control methods, lifestyle choices, weight, genes, and much more.
During the visit, an OB-GYN should ask you about your medical history, birth control choices, genetics, and more. This can help you get a better picture of what "normal" means for your cycle.
Things to remember include:
- Normal menstrual cycles can last between 21 and 40 days. The average is 28 days.
- For the first several years, your periods can be longer and may not happen every month.
- When women are near menopause, periods can get shorter and irregular.
- Menstruation can last between two and seven days.
- During menstruation, you can lose between one and six tablespoons of menstrual fluid.
- Vaginal discharge during menstruation can vary in color from pink to red and brown.
While "normal" can vary from person to person, you need to call your OB-GYN if:
- Your period is so heavy you need to change maxi pads or super tampons more often than once an hour.
- The duration of the period or the length of the menstrual cycle changes dramatically.
- You notice vaginal bleeding between periods.
- Your periods stop suddenly.
- Your periods become irregular.
- PMS symptoms become worse than usual.
If you are worried about your period, make an appointment. More often than not, an OB-GYN will assure you that everything is fine. However, in some cases, changes in your menstrual cycle require close medical attention.
2. Could I get a test for endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an unpleasant and often painful condition that affects 10% of women during their reproductive years. Signs that you may have endometriosis include:
- Pain during menstruation
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination or defecation
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Depression and anxiety
- Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Unexplained fatigue
While symptoms of endometriosis could also signal other diseases, checking whether you have this condition can determine the right course of treatment.
To diagnose endometriosis, your OBGYN will suggest:
- A pelvic exam – while it may be hard to palpate endometriosis during an exam, the doctor can check for cysts and other possible pelvic abnormalities that could cause the symptoms.
- A transvaginal ultrasound – can help the doctor see whether you have any ovarian cysts (endometriomas) that usually accompany endometriosis.
- Lab work – a specific blood test (CA-125) can show an advanced stage of endometriosis.
The most accurate way to diagnose endometriosis is a diagnostic laparoscopy. A doctor makes a small cut near the belly button to insert a laparoscope (a thin tube with a camera) to get a good look at your uterus and ovaries from the inside.
While some women are afraid of diagnostic laparoscopy, it's a common outpatient procedure with general anesthesia. The faster you do it to diagnose endometriosis, the sooner you can get proper treatment and improve your quality of life.
3. Will birth control prevent me from getting STIs?
Condoms are the only form of birth control that can prevent STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections).
Many people mistakenly believe that all forms of birth control can prevent them from getting STIs (also called STDs). To figure out which birth control methods can help and which can't, it's imperative to understand that STIs (both viruses and bacteria) can be transmitted through contact with:
- Bodily fluids
That's why the only birth control methods that prevent such contact can prevent STDs. Today, such a method is male and female condoms. Birth control pills, IUDs, combined pills, vaginal rings, and other methods can't prevent STIs.
According to CDC, 20% of Americans have an STD. The majority of STIs don't show significant symptoms. Meanwhile, undiagnosed STDs could lead to serious consequences.
For example, some types of HPV could cause cervical cancer. Some STDs during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. That's why if you are sexually active and have multiple partners, you need to test for STIs at least once a year.
4. How likely am I to get pregnant on birth control?
No matter which form of birth control you use, none of it is a definitive way to prevent pregnancy. However, the majority of them, if used correctly, can have a significant success rate:
- 99% - contraceptive implant, intrauterine system, IUD, contraceptive injection, patch, ring, combined contraceptive pill, progesterone-only pill, and sterilization.
- 98% - male condoms.
- 95% - female condoms.
- 92%-96% - diaphragms and caps.
Unfortunately, not all people can use birth control methods perfectly. That's why real figures can be lower. For example, with typical use, a male condom is only 82% effective while the effectiveness of diaphragms drops to 72%.
It's imperative to learn how to use the birth control of choice. Your OB-GYN can give you an extensive consultation.
It's also important to understand that none of the existing birth control methods are 100% foolproof. That's why no matter which method they prefer, sexually active men and women must be aware of the possibility of pregnancy.
5. Am I infertile?
When they can't conceive a child quickly, many women worry about their fertility. Talking to a health care provider about it timely can help you get proper treatment and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Besides the inability to conceive, the common signs of infertility include:
- Abnormal or irregular periods
- No periods
- Extremely painful periods
- Changes in libido
- Loss of hair
- Weight gain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Discharge from nipples
All the above symptoms can signal a variety of conditions, from anemia to breast cancer. Only an OB-GYN can diagnose infertility after running a series of tests, performing a pelvic exam, ordering an ultrasound, and (in some cases) recommending diagnostic laparoscopy.
Women who don't get sufficient nutrition, face regular stress, or can't kick bad habits (alcohol, smoking, drugs) could have fertility issues. Sometimes making lifestyle changes, adjusting your diet, increasing fluid intake, and taking prenatal vitamins are all you need to do to improve your chances of conception.
Improving Your Female Health with BINTO
Regular visits to the OB-GYN are imperative to keeping your female health in top shape. While you are waiting for your next appointment, you can consider the vitamins and supplements that your body needs to avoid various gynecological issues.
At BINTO, we are happy to suggest personalized kits for women who care about their reproductive health. Our high-quality supplements can keep your vitamin levels sufficiently high to improve the chances of conception and prevent certain medical conditions.
If you have any questions, please contact our team or book a telehealth consult at any convenient time.