According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women should visit a gynecologist for the first time when they turn 13 and 15 or when they become sexually active, whichever comes first. After that, women should schedule an appointment with their gynecologist at least once a year. However, some signs may indicate it’s time to visit a gynecologist sooner. Here are signs that it’s time to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist.
Gynecological Warning Signs Women Should Never Ignore
1. You’re Experiencing Abnormal Bleeding
If you’re bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause, it’s time to visit a gynecologist. These are all signs of abnormal bleeding, which can be caused by various things such as infection, fibroids, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and more. A gynecologist will be able to determine the cause of your abnormal bleeding and provide treatment accordingly.
2. Missing Periods
If you’re of childbearing age and suddenly stop having periods, this warrants a trip to the doctor ASAP. This could be indicative of pregnancy but can also be caused by other gynecological issues such as PCOS or thyroid problems.
3. Painful periods
Many women experience some degree of cramping and discomfort during their period. However, if the pain is severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, it could be a sign of a more serious problem such as endometriosis. If you’re experiencing pain that gets worse over time or doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medication, make an appointment with your doctor.
4. Unusual Vaginal Discharge
If you notice any unusual changes in your vaginal discharge—such as a change in color, consistency, or smell—it could be a sign of a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Both of these conditions are easily treated with medication, but it’s important to see your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
5. Pelvic Pain
Many women experience cramping during their menstrual cycle. But if you’re experiencing pelvic pain at other times, this could be a sign of endometriosis, Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fibroids, or even ovarian cancer. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor about this type of pain.
6. You Have New or Worsening Symptoms of STDs/STIs
If you have new or worsening symptoms of STDs/STIs, such as abnormal discharge, burning during urination, sores, or bumps in the genital area, it’s important to see a gynecologist right away. These symptoms could indicate anything from a yeast infection to chlamydia, so it’s best to get them checked out as soon as possible.
7. You Have Changes in Your Breast tissue
If you notice any changes in your breast tissue, such as lumps, pain, nipple discharge, or changes in size or shape, it’s important to see a gynecologist. These changes could be benign (noncancerous), but they could also be indicative of breast cancer. A gynecologist will be able to perform a breast exam and order further testing if necessary.
8. Itchy Vagina
Sudden onset of vaginal itching is usually due to an allergic reaction to something new you’ve used (a new soap, laundry detergent, etc.), but it can also be indicative of a vaginal infection such as candidiasis (yeast infection). If the itching persists despite changing products, contact your doctor for an exam.
9. Difficulty Getting Pregnant
If you’ve been trying to conceive without success, it could be due to a hormonal imbalance or another medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year without success, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss fertility testing and treatment options.
10. Itching or Burning Around the Vulva
If you’re experiencing itching or burning around the vulva (the external female genitalia), it could be a sign of a yeast infection or another type of infection. Be sure to see your doctor so they can prescribe medication to treat the infection and relieve your symptoms.
11. Nipple discharge
Nipple discharge is usually nothing to worry about, but if it’s bloody or clear and sticky, it could be a sign of Intraductal papilloma. Be sure to see your gynecologist right away if you notice any unusual nipple discharge so they can determine whether or not it’s anything serious.
Remember, these are just some examples of gynecological signs that shouldn’t be ignored. If you have any concerns about your health, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your gynecologist. And if you’re due for a Pap smear or breast exam, schedule those appointments too! Taking care of your gynecological health is an important part of overall wellness.