The word itself is scary, and the second you realize it’s a doctor AND for your female parts, it gets stressful. So first of all, who’s an ob-gyn? Alert: a lot of medical language coming your way!
An ob-gyn, short for obstetrician-gynaecologist, is a healthcare professional (aka a doctor) that specializes in female reproductive health. That includes specializing in obstetrics involving pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, and gynaecology, which is all about the female reproductive system (vagina, uterus, ovaries, breast) and their diseases. Okay now, when do I see an ob-gyn?
Preteens, teens, and adults should visit their gynaecologist regularly, but there are other times when a trip is necessary outside of the regular gynaecological visits.
Your first visit to the gynaecologist should be between the ages of 13 and 15 for a general overview of becoming a young adult with a working uterus, or within two to three years of becoming sexually active. So if you haven’t paid the visit till now, even if you don’t suffer from anything a simple checkup wouldn’t hurt. Later on, you should continue to see your doctor at least once every three years.
But there are several other situations where you would have to visit your doctor.
- If your period lasts for a bit too long (more than 9 days), a bit too short (less than three days), or is irregular, unbearably painful, or if it occurs several times per cycle (28 days),
- If you experience pain, itching, burning or discomfort. It could be simple infections or a sexually transmitted disease,
- If you bleed while peeing, pooping, scratching, or during sexual intercourse. It could be because of your fragile skin down there, but it could also be a sign of a cervix injury, or -god forbid- cancer,
- If you have fertility/ contraception difficulties or miscarriage. If you have been trying for a baby (within the right dates) but are still unlucky, you could go get tested to figure out what’s wrong, and whether treatment will be needed. If you had a miscarriage, you could also go check your uterus and take hormones that would help you and the baby,
- And of course, if you’re pregnant, have regular check-ups on the baby’s health from day one till your delivery date.
If you haven’t been to an ob-gyn yet, you might worry a little bit -which is completely normal. However, here’s what to expect. A first checkup will include screening, immunization, physical examination (BMI, measurements, and overall health), as well as a pelvic and breast examination. You may also have to give a blood or urine test. Certain diagnostic tasks could occur, including ultrasound scanning, colposcopy- which is a microscopic examination of the cervix- and endometrial biopsy – which is taking a sample from the lining of the uterus- or hysteroscopy -the use of an endoscope to see into the uterus.
Being nervous before the first visit is normal, but it could be as simple as being just a talk between you and your doctor. You can find out what to expect at future visits and get information about how to stay healthy. You can ask questions about your body, what to expect while growing, and sex. Your doctor may ask a lot of questions about you and your family, and some of them may seem personal, such as questions about your menstrual period or sexual activities.
However, they need to ask these questions to know how to provide you with the best possible care. Giving honest answers to these questions is key to your care. And don’t worry, your information is kept confidential!
And always remember that taking care of your body is the first step to having a healthier approach towards self-care!