Every woman should get an annual well-woman exam. These visits cover your overall health and well-being along with your reproductive health, but if you’re nervous about going to the gynecologist, you’re not alone.
Heather Auld, MD, and our team at SWFL Integrative Medicine in Fort Myers, Florida understand that many women feel awkward talking about sexual health. We specialize in gynecology care, and we’re here to ease your worries.
It’s important to ask all the questions and share any concerns you have about your sexual health, so we can give you the best possible care. If you’re preparing for your next well-woman exam, here are some important questions to ask at your appointment.
1. What preventive screenings do I need?
Your well-woman visits always include a physical exam, but additional screenings vary based on your age and overall health. Dr. Auld reviews your medical history at your appointment to determine if you need lab testing or other screenings.
In general, you should get a Pap smear every three years as part of your pelvic exam. Pap smears check for cervical cancer, and you may need more frequent tests if you’ve had a Pap smear with abnormal results in the past.
You should start getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer between ages 40-44, and continue getting one each year after that. Around age 65, Dr. Auld may begin recommending bone density testing to screen for osteoporosis and bone loss.
2. Are my period symptoms normal?
Most menstrual periods last between 2-7 days, and the average menstrual cycle is 28 days. More than 84% of women get menstrual cramps during their periods. But if your period is longer, heavier, or very painful, ask Dr. Auld about your symptoms.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, very painful periods, and irregular periods are common but can indicate a gynecological issue. Many women don’t tell their gynecologists because they think these symptoms are normal.
Heavy, painful periods are treatable. Dr. Auld may examine you for signs of gynecologic conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), then develop a treatment plan for you.
3. What can I do about vaginal discomfort?
A healthy vagina shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. If you’re having any discomfort, bring it up at your well-woman visit. Symptoms like itching, dryness, or pelvic pain could indicate an underlying condition that needs treatment.
Vaginal itching could be a sign of yeast infection, especially if you also have discharge that looks thick, white, and clumpy like cottage cheese. If you have a yeast infection, Dr. Auld can prescribe medicine to treat it.
Vaginal dryness and pain, especially with sexual intercourse, are common symptoms of menopause. Sex shouldn’t be painful, and Dr. Auld can recommend lifestyle changes or treatments like hormone replacement therapy to help resolve your symptoms.
Remember that no question is too embarrassing when it comes to your sexual health. If you’re concerned about something “down there”, ask us. We’re here to help. Schedule your next gynecology appointment at SWFL Integrative Medicine by calling 239-208-6676 or using our online booking tool.