If you’re like most women, you visit your gynecologist for a regular exam at least once a year to monitor and protect your sexual and/or reproductive health. You know that you need to have a Pap smear and a professional manual breast exam by your OB/GYN in the interest of your continued good health.
However, issues may arise in the interim that should prompt you to make an impromptu appointment with your gynecologist. After all, even a minor symptom may suggest a more serious problem, so it is vital that you catch any potential health issues as early as possible.
Here are several signs that it’s time to schedule a consultation with your gynecologist without delay:
- You have vaginal bleeding even though your period is not due. While spot bleeding between periods is normal for many women – especially those who are on the pill – heavy bleeding, or bleeding that lasts for a few days between periods, warrants an evaluation by a knowledgeable gynecologist. It may be a sign of a pelvic infection, a cyst, fibroids (benign tumors), or a polyp. In rare cases, it may indicate gynecological cancer. If you are pregnant, spot bleeding is a common occurrence, but more aggressive bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. In any case, you’ll want to have your OB/GYN conduct an examination to allay your fears, and possibly for treatment of the issue.
- Your period is unusually and intensely painful. Different women have different degrees of pain during menstruation, but if your cramps are so bad that they suddenly leave you feeling incapacitated, it could be a sign of a larger problem – especially if the cramps start later in your adult life, or if the pain gets worse or changes over time. Discomfort that is more intense than usual could indicate the development of a condition such as a fibroid, which might need to be removed. Your OB/GYN can provide relief that addresses your specific source of pain.
- You are experiencing pain during intercourse. This is relatively common but nonetheless troublesome. This issue can usually be remedied with extra lubrication or by changing sexual positions. However, deep internal pain may indicate endometriosis, a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the organ. Or, if it’s a sudden, sharp pain, it could be due to a ruptured ovarian cyst. Other possibilities include a fibroid; cervicitis, which is inflammation of the cervix caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a yeast infection; vulvodynia, which is a burning or stabbing sensation around the opening of the vagina; vaginismus, which causes involuntary muscle spasms triggered by pain during intercourse; or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Also, if you have pain or a discharge in one or both of your breasts, this should be evaluated by a skilled gynecologist.
- You’re suffering from vaginal swelling, itching, and/or pain after sex. If your discomfort and swelling are short-lived (within 36 hours after sex) and if you use condoms, the reaction could be due to an allergy to latex – in which case you should switch to polyurethane condoms to avoid the painful reactions and also to avoid a possibly severe allergic reaction. However, if your symptoms last longer and persist despite switching condoms, it could indicate an underlying problem such as a vaginal infection – which your doctor can promptly address.
- You detect an unusual and unpleasant vaginal odor. For the most part, regular vaginal discharge is odorless. If you notice a sudden foul smell that is accompanied by irritation, itchiness, or a change in discharge color, it may indicate an infection – such as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or yeast infection – which should be treated promptly by your OB/GYN.
Gynecologists in Lithonia, Decatur, and Stone Mountain, GA
At Dekalb Women’s Specialists, our team of highly trained and experienced physicians provides general gynecology services and support for every stage of your life, including:
- Well-woman visits
- Standard screenings, such as Pap smears and breast exams
- STD testing
- Birth control
- Infertility evaluation and treatment
- Pregnancy care
- Menopause support
If you have any reason to be concerned about your gynecological health, don’t wait for your regular annual visit. Contact Dekalb Women’s Specialists today to set up a consultation at our nearest location to you, or fill out our convenient online appointment request form now. We look forward to being your healthcare partner!