The physicians at the Institute for Women’s Health are specialists in obstetrics, gynecology, fertility, and urogynecology. Each of these fields covers a diverse range of women’s health issues. However, across the board, we feel that there are some messages that are important.
Please understand that we truly believe each of the following points!
- Gynecological visits are MORE than just pelvic exams.
When you imagine a visit to the gynecologist, you likely envision stirrups. Pelvic exams are important, and you should be getting pap smears once you are 21 years old to check for cervical cancer. However, there are other things that your doctor should keep an eye on.
Women’s health issues cover a wide range of events in your life – from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. Your gynecologist can help you with contraceptives, sexually transmitted infections (STI), menstrual cycle issues, and more.
Even if you are currently not experiencing any vaginal discomfort or planning on getting pregnant, establishing a history with a gynecologist is important. If and when your situation changes, it can be very informative for your doctor to be able to look back at what healthy baseline numbers look like for you!
- Periods fluctuate. That’s NORMAL!
The average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, plus or minus a week. Your body, unlike your smart phone, does not have a calendar built into it. As such, your period’s start dates are not always equidistant. Sometimes, it will be a little early. Other times, it will be a bit late. A little bit of variation is to be expected, and there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, during childbearing years, around 30 percent of women experience irregular menstrual cycles.
When your physician asks about “irregular” periods, they understand everyone is different. Let your doctor know what qualifies as normal for you, as well as anything that strikes you as a little bit unusual.
Periods aren’t enjoyable for anyone, but you should let your doctor know if your menstrual cycle is impacting your ability to function normally. There are things we can do to help!
- Birth control does MORE than just prevent pregnancies.
The name “birth control” makes its purpose very clear! The contraceptive pill, condoms (male and female), diaphragms, cervical caps, intrauterine devices (IUD), contraceptive implants, spermicides, vaginal rings, contraceptive patches, and more are all options to prevent pregnancy.
Nevertheless, many of these contraceptives have benefits outside of protecting against pregnancy. Condoms, for example, protect sexual partners from sexually transmitted infections.
“The Pill” has a huge list of benefits outside birth control. It can also assist patients by:
- Controlling heavy bleeding
- Easing menstrual cramps
- Decreasing the risk of endometrial, colon, and ovarian cancers
- Clearing up acne
- Preventing menstrual migraines
- Lessening hot flashes and night sweats in pre- or post-menopausal women
- Hormonal birth control has SIDE EFFECTS.
The Pill and other hormone-based birth control options can help many patients with their health beyond just family planning. However, your body is an ecosystem. When you add outside hormones to it, you are at risk for developing side effects. What works wonderfully for one person could be incredibly uncomfortable for you. As such, it is very important to make sure you know the side effects and communicate openly with your doctor about what you are experiencing.
Some common side effects of the Pill are the following:
- Spotting between periods
- Tender breasts
- Weight gain
- Mood change
- Missed periods
- Decreased libido
There are a few rare side effects that should not be ignored, as they are symptoms of more serious health complications. If you experience any of these, you should seek medical attention.
- Abdominal/stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision/loss of vision
- Swelling or redness of legs and thighs
Many people try a variety of options before finding a birth control regiment that works well with their body. Do not feel beholden to the first method you try! However, before making any changes, make sure to consult with your doctor about the safest way to switch hormonal birth control methods.
It is also incredibly important to remember that hormonal birth control ONLY prevents pregnancy. It does NOT prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- Please ask ANY QUESTIONS you have!
Throughout all these phases of your life, our job is to help you feel more comfortable in your skin. However, we are not mind readers. Please, if you have any questions, ask us!
Many topics in the women’s health field are considered embarrassing, but they shouldn’t be! Your body is beautiful, and each challenge you face is a reflection of where you are in your life. Early intervention makes a huge difference in treatment for most women’s health issues.
When you are worried about something, let us know! Your menstrual cycles should not be cripplingly painful, the first birth control option that you try may not be the best option for you, pregnancies can be intimidating, and menopause is not something to suffer through silently. Once we are aware of an issue, we will do everything we can to help you feel healthier and happier.
The OBGYNs at the Institute for Women’s Health are professionals with you in mind. We are here to help address and alleviate your concerns. Our OBGYNs will answer your questions to the best of their ability and will work with you to create a plan to make you as healthy, happy, and comfortable as possible.
Please give us a call at (210) 349-6626 to schedule an appointment today!