Visiting the OB/GYN can be a daunting experience for women, especially when it comes to discussing sensitive topics. It's important to remember your gynecologist is a trained medical professional who has heard it all before.
Claire Spellman, MD of Obstetrics and Gynecology at SCL Health Medical Group - Central Park OB-GYN and Saint Joseph Hospital, is one of these physicians. To make the most of your appointment, Dr. Spellman advised five surprising things you should tell your OB/GYN.
You're not happy with your sex life
Sexual health is an essential part of your well-being. If you're not satisfied with your sex life, whether it's due to pain during intercourse, low libido, or other concerns, your OB/GYN can help. They can check your symptoms and provide recommendations, such as trying different positions, using lubricants, or prescribing medication to treat underlying conditions.
“Sexual health is an important aspect of physical and emotional health, and problems with sexual function or satisfaction can lead to anxiety, depression, or relationship difficulties,” said Dr. Spellman. “By sharing your concerns with your OB/GYN, we can take the first step to fixing these issues with various treatments/interventions.”
You're experiencing incontinence
Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary urine leakage, is a common problem that affects many women, particularly those who have given birth or are going through menopause. It may feel embarrassing to discuss, but it's important to let your OB/GYN know about it. They can perform a physical exam and suggest lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, or medication to help manage your symptoms.
For patients reluctant to share incontinence symptoms, Dr. Spellman assured you’re not alone. “Urinary incontinence is incredibly common in women, affecting up to 50% of women at some point in their life,” she said.
“If incontinence is bothering you or impacting your life in a negative way, the only way we can fix it is to address it!” Dr Spellman said. “There are several highly effective treatment modalities that are within the wheelhouse of your OB/GYN to tailor to your unique situation.”
You have a history of depression or anxiety
Mental health issues can affect every aspect of your life, including your reproductive health. If you have a history of depression or anxiety, it's important to let your OB/GYN know. They can help you manage any emotional or psychological issues that may be affecting your overall well-being. In some cases, they may initiate treatment for these conditions, or refer you to a specialist.
“Your OB/GYN is interested in treating you as a whole person, and we can’t do this without knowing your mental health history,” said Dr. Spellman. “Treating and addressing your mental health is absolutely key to properly managing your physical health.”
You're experiencing heavy or painful periods
Many women experience heavy or painful periods at some point in their lives. While it may be tempting to write off these symptoms as "normal," let your OB/GYN know if you're experiencing them. Heavy or painful periods can be a sign of underlying medical conditions, such as fibroids or endometriosis, that may require treatment. Your OB/GYN can evaluate your symptoms and provide appropriate recommendations.
“Menstrual cycles are an important ‘vital sign’ as to how your reproductive and endocrine systems are functioning,” Dr. Spellman said. “If you are skipping periods frequently, going 35+ days without a period more than once every few years, having extremely irregular or unpredictable periods, or very heavy/frequent periods, we should investigate further.”
You're considering starting a family…. Or not
If you're thinking about starting a family, or do not want to conceive, it's important to discuss your plans with your OB/GYN. They provide valuable guidance on preconception or anticonception planning. This may include optimizing your health and identifying potential risk factors.
For those wanting to start a family, OB/GYNs provide recommendations on prenatal care and monitor your pregnancy to ensure the health of both baby and you.
For those who don’t want to conceive, your OB/GYN is equally as invested in your healthcare. They can review reliable contraceptive and surgical options to prevent pregnancy, giving you peace of mind.
For those who are interested in conceiving but now is not the right time, your OB/GYN is still here for you. They can inform about fertility preservation strategies and discuss the nuances of each option. They can also refer you to fertility specialists.
“Your OB/GYN definitely wants to know your family plans!” said Dr. Spellman. “Whether that means a big family with lots of children, absolutely no kids whatsoever, or something in the middle, we can develop a treatment plan to meet your individual goals for life and family.”
Your reproductive health is nothing to be ashamed of, and discussing it openly is crucial for your wellbeing. Don't be afraid to speak up – your OB/GYN, like Dr. Spellman, is there to help! By discussing these five surprising things with your OB/GYN, you can receive support to maintain your reproductive and overall health.