Health experts agree that women should visit the gynaecologist at least once a year for an annual pelvic exam and paps smear test. If one is pregnant, these consultations will be more frequent so that the specialist can monitor the health of the mother and baby. Many women are uncertain about what they should be asking the gynaecologist, which is often due to embarrassment. Bloom, along with medical partner Momentum Health4Me, want to assure you that a gynaecology visit is nothing to embarrassed about, which is they’ve created an open discussion about some of the key topics and questions you should be asking your gynaecologist.
Be informed about your reproductive health by asking the right questions
Gynaecologists are medical specialists who deal with the health of the female reproductive system and organs. This includes the vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. Some gynaecologists also function in the area of obstetrics. Gynaecologists can provide screening for conditions or diseases, like cervical cancer, and diagnose a patient for a number of issues relating to the female reproductive system. It’s important that you feel confident enough to ask your gynaecologist the right questions about your concern so that you’re empowered with the knowledge to understand your condition better.
We’ve outlined some of the most pressing gynaecology issues and concerns experienced by women in South Africa. Take a look at what you should be asking during your next visit.
Questions to ask a gynaecologist about conception or trying to fall pregnant
Factors like your age, fertility, partner’s fertility and hormones all play a role in your ability to conceive. Some of the most important questions to ask would be:
- How long will it take me to fall pregnant? There’s no easy answer for this one, although some studies have indicated that most couples within the 20-30 age range who don’t have fertility problems, can usually conceive within six menstrual cycles. However, if you’re experiencing difficulties conceiving, discuss this with your gynaecologist. They can advise you of best practices, like when your fertility levels are at their highest or conduct relevant tests in order to diagnose any underlying fertility issues.
- When am I most fertile? Your gynaecologist will provide advice about how you can track your fertility window. This is the period where you are most fertile and likely to conceive.
- What type of fertility treatment is available? There are a number of different methods for those couples experiencing conception challenges, like hormone treatment, IVF, fertility drugs or even surgery. Your gynaecologist will be able to advise you of the options available.
Questions to ask a gynaecologist about birth control
Sometimes, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body, which it perceives to be foreign. It is thought that certain people are more susceptible to autoimmune disease due to family history or genetic predisposition. Some diseases and conditions include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system attacks the joints, which cause pain in those areas and stiffness.
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition where skin cells form painful, inflamed patches of scaly plaque on the body.
- Multiple sclerosis. This disease damages the central nervous system, which results in difficulty with movement, walking and balance.
- Lupus. This is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in parts of the body, like the joints, brain, heart or kidneys.
Questions to ask a gynaecologist about sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia, can be prevented with safe sex practices. Speak to your gynaecologist about STDs so that you know how to protect yourself against infection or how to get treatment.
- How do I know if I have an STD? There is a wide range of symptoms associated with STDs, like vaginal discharge, genital pain, painful urination or bleeding between your menstrual cycles. Discuss any symptoms you may have so that your gynaecologist can conduct an examination or prescribe tests in order to get a diagnosis.
- How can I protect myself against STDs? There are currently vaccinations available for HPV and hepatitis B. Your doctor can also provide advice on the best type of prevention options available.
- How often should I be tested for STDs? This will depend on whether you are sexually active, how many sexual partners you’ve had and your age. The gynaecologist will usually recommend annual screening for certain types of STDs.
Questions to ask your gynaecologist about menopause
Menopause is a natural process that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, which means that she will no longer be able to have children. Symptoms of menopause include missed periods, vaginal dryness, sensitive breasts, hot flashes, and hormonal changes. The menopausal transition usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55. If you suspect that you have started this process or if you are already menopausal, you should ask your gynaecologist the following questions:
- How can you be sure it’s menopause? Your gynaecologist will ask that you keep a record of your menstrual cycle. There are also hormonal blood tests that can be administered for confirmation.
- Do I still need to take birth control? Provided you have not had a period in a 12-month cycle, it is unlikely that you will need to use birth control.
- Is there medication for menopause? Your gynaecologist may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to assist with the transition. They may also provide advice about medication for osteoporosis and vaginal dryness.
- What are the symptoms of menopause? A wide range of symptoms can be experienced with the depletion of progesterone and oestrogen in a woman’s body, which your gynaecologist will be able to explain to you in more detail.
Get health insurance specialising in women’s health issues
We take women’s health seriously at Bloom, which is why we encourage you to keep well informed about your reproductive health. Momentum Health4Me provides excellent maternity benefits for all health insurance plans. Gynaecology benefits are available for those on the Health4Me Gold option. Get the expert answers you need to manage a gynaecological condition or solve a medical problem. Ensure that you are properly covered for specialist gynaecology and maternity benefits with an affordable, comprehensive health insurance plan. Contact our team of brokers to discuss the medical insurance options available to suit your individual needs and budget.
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