Some women don’t like the idea of visiting their obstetritian-gynecologists, or OB-GYNs, regularly. They complain that the tests and examinations are unpleasant, and some even say that they would rather not know it if they did have anything wrong “down there.”
But this fear is unhealthy as many conditions can, when undiagnosed and untreated, cause women regular pain or even result in complications that can affect a woman’s fertility and health.
Angela G. Sison-Aguilar MD specializes in obstetrics and gynecology and is a fellow of the Philippine Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Below, she lists five conditions you should definitely see your OB-GYN about—and what the symptoms you’re experiencing may indicate.
Symptom #1: Vaginal discharge with a fishy odor
You may have bacterial vaginosis due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina, caused by changes in pH. Oral or vaginal medications may be prescribed if it persists for nearly a week.
Symptom #2: Itchiness in the genital area
You may have a yeast infection. This can be recurrent in diabetic women and those who constantly wear tight, non-cotton underwear. Tablets, creams, or suppositories can be prescribed, but avoid predisposing factors to prevent recurrence.
Symptom #3: Warts or ulcers in the genitals
You may have a sexually transmitted infection like HPV or the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HPV may require cautery or chemical application; HSV requires medication. Bring your partner for treatment to prevent re-infection.
Symptom #4: Bleeding after intercourse
Your gynecologist can inspect your cervix and administer a Pap test; a biopsy may be performed if a growth is detected. Some cervical infections can also cause bleeding and will need to be treated.
Symptom #5: Painful menstruation or intercourse
Have yourself evaluated for endometriosis, which may be the cause of your dysmenorrhea. It may require aggressive treatment to prevent complications which may affect your fertility.
For more OB-GYN-related articles, check out the following:
For more on common health concerns for women, read these articles:
- Periodic Pain: 5 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Dysmenorrhea
- What Every Woman Should Know about Cervical Cancer
- What Every Woman Should Know about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- What Every Woman Should Know about Ovarian Cancer
- 10 Things Every Woman Should Know about Menopause
- What Every Woman Should Know about Breast Cancer
- What Every Woman Should Know about Heart Disease, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, and 4 Other Health Concerns
- Health Check: 10 Habits of Healthy Women
- What You Should Know about Irregular Menstrual Periods
- 10 Ways to Prevent Cervicitis
- 5 Things Every Woman Needs to Know about Endometriosis
(First published as “Pap Facts” in the Health Check column in Good Housekeeping’s Good Health section, for the August 2010 issue. Adapted for use in Female Network; introduction by the FN team. Photo by Walt Stoneburner via Flickr Creative Commons.)