As patients, there are a number of services and qualities we expect from our gynecologists.
We want them to be nice, nonjudgmental, punctual, and super-knowledgeable about our nether regions. But, you know what? Our doctors wish we’d followed some rules too.
Below, gynecologists share the top 7 habits they wish we’d quit. To make the most of our visits, heed their advice.
If you dread intercourse more than you look forward to it, ask yourself if it’s because it hurts—and if so, tell your doctor. Painful sex could be caused by a number of possible reasons, among which are vaginal infection, constipation, fibroids, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts, all of which your doc can help with, explains Michelle Germain, MD, FACOG, an ob-gyn and chief of the division of gynecology at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore.
Hanging out in sweaty gym clothes
You’re busy, and it’s tempting to immediately start dinner or run a few errands after a sweat session—but don’t do it. Women should immediately take off sweaty gym clothes because yeast tends to grow in warm, moist environments and can lead to infection. In fact, yeast infections, irritation, redness, and vaginitis are very common and doctors recommend working out in fabrics that wick away moisture and wearing 100% cotton underwear once you’re finished exercising—it’s more breathable.
Assuming that heavy menstrual bleeding is normal
No matter your age or how close to menopause you think you are get examined if you’re soaking through pads or tampons every 2 hours or have to rely on dual protection—like a pad and a tampon—to avoid an accident. The average blood loss during an entire menstrual period (generally 3 to 7 days for most women) should be about 80 milliliters or 5 tablespoons, says Kevin J. Lee, MD, FACOG, an ob-gyn at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore.“There are many medications and minimally invasive surgical options available for women with heavy menstrual bleeding, and nobody should be told to just live with it every month.”Hormonal treatment, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (like ibuprofen), and the Mirena IUD are some of the ways to treat heavy bleeding.
Wearing thongs (and even panty liners)
Finally, a great excuse to ditch uncomfortable underwear: doctors say that thongs can pull and rub the skin, causing irritation, and panty liners don’t always allow ventilation. Without air circulating, the region can become chafed or more susceptible to a yeast infection.
“Remember, the skin in that area is among the most sensitive on the body.”
Believing everything you read on the Internet
Constantly searching for your symptoms online? Google with caution! Doing some research on reputable websites like Mayo Clinic, Medline Plus, and Cleveland Clinic is an OK place to start, but an office visit is always required to pinpoint an accurate diagnosis. Mistaking a pimple for herpes, a rash for inflammatory breast cancer and normal fatigue for HIV, is what you get if you search for your symptoms online.
Self-treating what you think is a yeast infection
Many women buy over-the-counter yeast infection medication at the first sign of vaginal discharge or itching. But if it’s not a yeast infection, doing so will only delay a proper diagnosis and make symptoms worse in the meantime. “Vaginal cultures can and should confirm what organism is causing your symptoms so the best treatment can be prescribed.”Other conditions that mimic a yeast infection include a bacterial infection; latex, spermicide, or other contact allergies; and possibly sexually transmitted infections.
And Guess The Next One!
Answering your cell phone during exams
Yes, this happens. “I once had a patient participate in a parent-teacher conference while I was doing her pelvic exam,” confesses Arlene Kaelber, MD, an ob-gyn at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York. . Despite the age of computerized electronic medical records in the exam room, Kaelber still believes the best patient-physician interactions occur with direct eye contact.