You’ve been to the gynecologist before or maybe it’s your first time, but you don’t know what a gynecologist actually does?
In this article, we will go over the basics of gynecology and some important questions that you should ask your gynecologist.
What is a gynecologist?
A gynecologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the reproductive system. This includes the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and vagina.
A gynecologist will diagnose problems with these organs, perform gynecological surgery to remove tumors or correct abnormalities of these organs, prescribe medication for menstrual disorders or hormonal imbalances, provide contraception advice and examine women during pregnancy.
Your gynecologist is a specialist in gynecology who is trained to handle most gynecological problems particularly when it comes to female anatomy, its functions, and processes.
Gynecologists are doctors who treat gynecological conditions. Gynecology is the branch of medicine that studies gynecological disorders, gynecologic procedures, and gynecologic surgery.
If you have gynecological problems or concerns then it is important for you to consult your gynecologist regarding what might be causing these symptoms so they can prescribe treatment or medication that will allow you to live a healthy life while avoiding gynecological problems in the future.
What does a Gynecologist do?
There are many reasons why you might need to see a gynecologist including pelvic pain; abnormal vaginal bleeding; infertility; irregular menstruation cycles; urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control); chronic pelvic pain that has no clear cause; excessive hair growth on the face or body which may be due to hormones and can be cleared up with medications or supplementation.
You may also go to a gynecologist for regular checkups such as pre-natal care; to make sure your reproductive organs are working correctly; or if you have specific gynecological needs.
During your gynecological exam, the gynecologist will: ask about birth control and sexual activity; perform a breast and pelvic exam (when needed); examine any bumps on the cervix and uterine walls; take samples of fluid from the vagina; test fertility; provide contraception advice and prescribe medication if necessary.
Some gynecologists perform gynecologic surgery like tubal ligations (getting tubes tied). A gynecologist can also determine what is causing pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, infertility, excessive hair growth, or urinary incontinence.
Help Plan for Pregnancies
Your gynecologist can help plan your pregnancies. This is especially important if you are trying to conceive, but would like to postpone pregnancy for a period of time.
A gynecologist will examine the reproductive organs, check cervical mucus and perform pap smears. You can discuss your family health history with the gynecologist to determine if there are any risks associated with getting pregnant at that time.
If you have gynecological problems or concerns that aren’t being addressed by your gynecologist then it is alright to seek advice from another gynecologist or general practitioner about getting a second opinion so long as they understand what is going on with your body and how these gynecologists relate back to each other.
Make recommendations for Fertility
It is common for women with gynecological conditions like endometriosis to become infertile. Endometriosis happens when cells that normally line the uterus grow outside of it, attaching themselves to other organs in the pelvis. Surgery may be needed to correct this condition and restore fertility.
A gynecologist can help diagnose gynecological disorders which may lead to infertility. They will also prescribe medication treatments that might stimulate ovulation or stop testosterone levels from interfering with fertility. A gynecologist can also help couples prepare for a baby by examining both partners, advising them on pre-conception diets, and prescribing any necessary medication.
Help with Menstrual Cycles
Changes in menstrual cycles can be a sign of gynecological problems if they are irregular, heavy, or painful. If you have concerns about your menstrual cycles then see your gynecologist and discuss the best way to manage these gynecological problems.
Your gynecologist can both prescribe medication and give advice on lifestyle changes that may help to solve gynecological problems.
Treat Reproductive Organs
A gynecologist can treat gynecological disorders that affect reproductive organs. These gynecologists may be able to get rid of cysts on the ovaries or get rid of fibroids (which are non-cancerous tumors) on the uterus.
A gynecologist can help diagnose and treat all gynecological conditions including abnormal uterine bleeding; infertility; polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS); ovarian cysts; vaginal discharge in post-menopause women and many more.
Your gynecologist will help you create a birth plan that’s right for you. The gynecologist will also help manage pain during childbirth.
For example, many gynecologists can provide you with epidurals (pain relief injections) and monitor the baby’s heartbeat during labor.
Screen for Cervical and Uterine Cancer
A gynecologist will provide you with information about Pap tests, vaccines and other gynecological cancer screenings. A gynecologist is a qualified doctor who has undergone several years of training in gynecology so can offer expert advice on how to prevent any gynecological cancer from developing. If you have concerns or questions about cervical cancer then your gynecologists can help put your mind at ease.
If you have a cervix then it is recommended that you go for regular gynecological examinations no matter what age you are because it’s the gynecologists’ job to keep an eye on gynecological problems.
If you’re having sexual relationships then it is definitely important to see a gynecologist for advice on birth control because gynecologists know about gynecological problems and treatments related to the reproductive system. Having sex without contraception can lead to seriously unwanted pregnancies or gynecological problems like HPV (human papillomavirus) which has no cure yet but your gynecologist can prescribe antibiotics to prevent passing on HPV to any future partners you might have.
There are many types of birth control to choose from including the contraceptive pill, vaginal rings, patches, shots, and more. Your gynecologist can explain all of these options so you can choose birth control that works best for you.
Important Questions to Ask Your Gynecologist
What questions should you ask your gynecologist?
These are some of the most important gynecology related questions to ask when visiting your gynecologist:
- What kind of practitioner are you (doctor/nurse practitioner/etc)? How long has the gynecologist been practicing gynecology?
- What is your medical specialty and where did you train? Is this doctor certified in gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG)?
- Is there another option aside from surgery if my condition cannot be reversed with medication, etc.? What are these options and what are their results? Do I need any additional tests before deciding on an option?
- Am I allergic to any medications that could be used in this treatment/procedure? If so, what other medications can you use?
- Can you recommend a gynecologist who has experience with gynecological illnesses similar to mine?
- How quickly can I get an appointment with this gynecologist or another gynecologist in your practice should the need arise?
Additionally, you will want to know about any medications that are being prescribed, also ask if there are alternatives.
You should be able to understand what’s going on and what options are available to you. If you don’t understand anything that the gynecologist says, ask for clarification.
During each gynecology visit, try to take notes of topics discussed so you can remember them later on. Also, make sure you have someone with you or call someone after leaving gynecological visits.
How much does a gynecology appointment cost?
Your gynecologist may charge different amounts for gynecologic visits depending on your health insurance.
Some gynecologists offer special discounts for students, unemployed people, and the elderly.
However gynecological services are not covered by Medicare or other medical assistance programs in most instances.
All women should be able to see a gynecologist when they need one without having to worry about finances because gynecologic care is vital – if you have a cervix then you need it! Make sure that you find out what your health insurance policy does and doesn’t cover so that there are no surprises at the end of the gynecologist’s visit.
If you don’t have health insurance or the gynecologist charges more than you can afford, ask if there are gynecologists who provide gynecologic care at reduced costs. You will want to know about any medications that are being prescribed, also ask if there are alternatives.
It is important to remember that gynecological problems should be taken seriously and therefore treated by a gynecologist or physician assistant. These medical professionals have been trained for years in how to handle gynecological illnesses and they will be able to give you the best advice on what treatments to follow for your individual case.
How often should I see a gynecologist?
You can visit a gynecologist for any of these reasons or just go every year for a gynecological exam. After you turn 18, it’s advised that women visit their gynecologists once a year for their annual gynecologic exam.
Your gynecologist will give you advice on when to have your next gynecological exam based on your age and medical history.
When to see a Gynecologist.
If you experience any of the following symptoms then you might want to visit your gynecologist: chronic pelvic and abdominal pain, abnormal bleeding (bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or post-menopausal), foul-smelling vaginal discharge (that is different from normal hormone changes), and infertility.
You should also go to the gynecologist if you are pregnant; trying to get pregnant or if you have been recently diagnosed with cancer.