Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in a particular branch of biology – female biology. Their focus is on the female reproductive system. When do women need a gynecologist, and what should they expect?
Women are more comfortable visiting a well-woman clinic than a family doctor. This is true even for general health concerns. However, gynecologists are better suited for medical situations that only pertain to women.
What Do Gynecologists Specialize in as Doctors?
A gynecologist treats, examines, or performs surgeries on patients with female reproductive organs. To become a gynecologist, the person must be a doctor for four years then train in obstetrics and gynecology for another four years. Afterward, they have to pass an examination that certifies and registers them as a full-pledged gynecologist.
The main job of gynecologists is to look for abnormalities or problems with the female’s reproductive organs by performing medical tests. Since they are also trained in women’s health, they ensure good health among their patients.
Gynecologists typically perform well woman exams regularly. Well woman exams treat any range of medical problems involving the female reproductive system. The well woman exam peruses how the body maintains its reproductive capabilities.
The common gynecological problems that these experts treat include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Leucorrhea (excessive white vaginal discharge)
- Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
- Fibroids (non-cancerous tumors in the uterus)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- STI (sexually transmitted infections)
When Do You Need a Gynecologist?
Experts advise annual visits to a gynecologist if you are 21 to 29 years old. For females younger than 21, experts recommend a yearly visit to the gynecologist if they are sexually active. Otherwise, they need only visit every other year.
Aside from the annual visit for screening and tests, a woman should also visit anytime a health concern arises. You may also need a gynecologist for health problems not exclusive to women. Gynecologists also treat the following:
- Psychiatric conditions like depression
- Hormonal concerns such as thyroid disorders
- Domestic violence and sexual assault
- Cardiovascular diseases
You can rely on a gynecologist for lifestyle advice on matters such as quitting smoking or losing weight.
Overall, it’s critical for women to visit gynecologists regularly. You never know when you need a gynecologist. Without an annual gynecological checkup, you may suffer from acute gynecological problems.
Acute gynecological problems arise when mild symptoms are ignored or go unnoticed. This is why it’s critical to visit a gynecologist for a checkup regularly. A simple abdominal pain may be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and not dysmenorrhea – but you won’t know that unless an expert diagnoses the condition.
When is the First Time Females Should Visit a Gynecologist
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that females visit a gynecologist for the first time when the female is 13 to 15 years old. Young females need to establish a good relationship with a gynecologist early on. It will help them become more comfortable with the doctor discussing menstruation, sexuality, and more.
Additionally, establishing a relationship with a gynecologist is essential in the long run. Gynecologists better understand patients if they know the patient’s medical history.
What to Expect?
What should you expect when you visit a gynecologist? The entire entirely depends on your reason for the visit and your situation.
If it is your first time visiting a gynecologist, you can expect to have a chat with the doctor. The doctor will want to familiarize themself with your health information. The gynecologist may also tell you what to expect in the future.
However, there are general things you should expect when you visit a gynecologist, no matter what situation. You should expect the doctor to be frank. Gynecologists, and medical professionals in general, have to ask pointed questions to diagnose their patients’ health accurately.
It is not necessary to wax or shave before a gynecological visit. If you have bodily odors, don’t hide them. The gynecologist needs to know about it; it might indicate a problem. If the appointment is scheduled on one of your period days, it might be better to postpone unless there’s an urgent need for the visit.
Gynecological examinations are generally uncomfortable. But they do not hurt. These examinations include a pap smear, pelvic and breast examination (depends on the patient’s age), screening (you may have to give a blood or urine sample), and physical examination.
Here is a list of the most common gynecological tests and what they mean.
- Pelvic exam – is a general evaluation of the female reproductive organ, including the vulva, vagina, uterus, ovaries, cervix, pelvis, and rectum. This exam only lasts a few minutes.
- Pap smear – a pap smear (also known as a pap test) is usually a part of a pelvic exam. Its primary purpose is to test for cervical cancer in women. The gynecologist collects cells from the cervix and detects changes in the cells that might become cervical cancer.
- HPV test – another form of testing to detect cervical cancer. An HPV test looks for human papillomavirus, a virus that can lead to the growth of cervical cancer. It is usually conducted at the same time as a pap smear.
- Breast exam – there are three components to a breast exam: inspection, palpation, and lymph node exam. The gynecologist looks for abnormalities in the shape of the breast, changes in skin color, dimpling around the breast, and unnatural nipple discharge.
Aside from tests, the gynecologist can also give contraceptive counseling and family planning advice.
Get the Best Help You Can
Gynecologists help women get the best help they can. These doctors help women be as healthy as possible. They are not just a last resort but rather a first line of defense. Get the best gynecologist that you can.Women need a gynecologist they can trust. Chariss Family Medical Clinic is open from Mondays to Fridays. If a walk-in is not an option, contact us by phone at (240) 700-4315. Additionally, you can reach us via our Contact Us page.