Gynecologists: What do they do and what should I expect?
Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in women's health, with a focus on the female reproductive system. They deal with a wide range of issues, including obstetrics, or pregnancy and childbirth, menstruation and fertility issues, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hormone disorders, and others.
When should I see a gynecologist?
A visit to the gynecologist is recommended for annual screening and any time a woman has concerns about symptoms such as pelvic, vulvar, and vaginal pain or abnormal bleeding from the uterus.Conditions commonly treated by gynecologists include:
- issues relating to pregnancy, fertility, menstruation, and menopause
- family planning, including contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination
- problems with tissues that support the pelvic organs, including ligaments and muscles
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- urinary and fecal incontinence
- benign conditions of the reproductive tract, for example, ovarian cysts, fibroids, breast disorders, vulvar and vaginal ulcers, and other non-cancerous changes
- premalignant conditions, such as endometrial hyperplasia, and cervical dysplasia
- cancers of the reproductive tract and the breasts, and pregnancy-related tumors
- congenital abnormalities of the female reproductive tract
- emergency care relating to gynecology
- endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects the reproductive system
- pelvic inflammatory diseases, including abscesses
- sexual dysfunction
What to expect?
What happens at the gynecologist's depends on the reason for the visit and the individual's situation.If it is a young woman's first visit, she may just have a chat with the doctor, get some general health information, and find out what to expect in the future.At any visit with the gynecologist, it is worth remembering:
- An honest account of your health concerns and lifestyle gives the gynecologist a better idea of your situation and enables them to help you more.
- A gynecological examination, including a pap smear, may be uncomfortable, but it is not usually painful.
- It is not necessary to wax or shave before the visit.
- Bodily odor is natural. If it indicates a problem, the gynecologist needs to know.
- If you have a period when the appointment is scheduled, you can still go ahead with the visit, but it may be better to postpone, unless you have symptoms that need urgent attention.
- It is best to avoid sexual activity, using a vaginal douche, or using tampons for 2 days before a gynecological examination.
- A patient can ask to have someone with them at the visit, either in the room or outside the door.