Prevention is your best defence against future health problems, but you can’t always predict when or what types of issues may arise. So how do you know if your symptoms warrant a trip to the doctor.
Pelvic pain and abdominal discomfort.
Sharp pelvic pain may be a warning sign that you have an infection, a ruptured ovarian cyst, or a dangerous ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy growing outside the uterus), according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). More constant pain or feelings of fullness in the abdomen are suggestive of uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous tumors.
Another potential source of regular pelvic pain is endometriosis, a common condition in which the lining of the uterus grows outside the organ. Endometriosis starts with pain during the menstrual cycle and can progress to become an ‘all the time’ pain as endometrial cells grow outside the uterus.
Bleeding between periods/postmenopausal bleeding.
Occasional spotting between periods shouldn’t set off any alarm bells. But when the bleeding lasts for days or is heavy and painful, it’s time to call your gynecologist. This could be a sign of an injury to the vagina, a miscarriage, or even cancer of the cervix or uterus.
Problem periods/missed periods.
It’s important to know what’s normal for you. If you’re soaking through a sanitary pad or tampon every hour for two to three hours, or your bleeding has lasted longer than a week, your gynecologist needs to know. Uterine fibroids, an infection, or a thyroid problem could be to blame. If you feel weak or dizzy during menstruation, you should call your doctor, no question about it. Irregular or infrequent periods can be a symptom of an underlying condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormone imbalance problem.
Unusual discharge or soreness in the genital area.
Vaginal discharge is the body’s way of keeping the vagina clean and healthy. The thickness of discharge changes at different times of the month, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. But if you notice a yellow, green, or gray discharge that has a bad odor, it’s time to see your gynaecologist. Very painful genital sores could be a sign of herpes.
When to See the Gynecologist: Resources
Experts say females who are sexually active and/or who are over 21 (whichever comes first) should see their gynecologist yearly for routine checkups and screenings. The sooner a problem is found, the sooner it can be treated.
Always pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, your gynecologist can evaluate the problem and provide treatment to help you get back to feeling your best as soon as possible.