I have been seeing a gynecologist regularly (at least once a year) since I became sexually active. It’s important to get check up’s when you become sexually active to receive advice on contraceptives and advice on protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). It is also beneficial to get a yearly pap smear as this is an excellent way to see if you have pre-cancerous cells, as the cervix (that bit waaaaay inside your v-jay jay that stops the baby falling out)* is where you will find these cells first most of the time.
*loose jargon to explain complicated medical terminology.
I have had a pap smear after my second baby that revealed “abnormal” cells and had to go back to the gynae for a colposcopy to have the “abnormal” cells removed. It was a frightening experience hearing I had these abnormal cells, and I was terrified of the procedure (lets face it, gynae stuff is never fun!), but my doctor was very kind and the procedure took 20 minutes in his consulting rooms and it was all over.
The other reason you go visit your gynae or GP for a check up of your lady parts is that they examine your breasts for any lumps, bumps or strange tissue. No scans or mammograms, but it’s the starting point, just getting them checked for lumps is the start of making sure there are no strange things growing inside your breast tissue. It’s not weird or uncomfortable, at the gynae you strip right down and wear a robe, you are never exposed and the doctor does his/her job professionally and with care.
Over the years, my gynae’s (lived in different cities over the years) have advised on different methods of contraceptive. The one that’s worked the best for me up until now (cause I’m one of those super sensitive people who can’t take any strong doses of anything) is Minesse, a contraceptive pill. It’s the easiest for me at the moment and less invasive than the implant and not as overpowering as the injection. Also, the loop/coil is akin to an abortive device and so I won’t consider this option.
But, getting older (39 now) means that I need to start thinking ahead. I am finished having kids (three babies and four pregnancies) and with 40 just around the corner, we have decided to go for the Mirena for our long term plan. It is a device that is inserted into the uterus, and releases hormones directly. It lasts for up to 5 years, releasing a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel. It does so in small amounts, thus preventing pregnancy for up to 5 years. It sure beats having a surgical procedure, and if after 5 years I have another one inserted, it will assist with menopausal symptoms too.
Contraception is a very personal thing, as it’s dealing with your body and how you respond to medications and hormones, so it’s very important to run these options through with your gynae, but that being said, the choice is still yours to make. Do not ever let a doctor push you into a certain decision if you do not have 100% certainty that it is what you want to do. Also, be very certain if you choose a permanent option of contraception like the Mirena or having your tubes tied that you are completely sure you don’t want any more children, unless you’re over 40, because you never know what life throws at you and you may want kids in your 30’s.
The other reason you see your gynae regularly is if you have a family history of anything like ovarian cysts, fibroids, PCos or endometriosis. These types of conditions have a knack of falling down the family tree, so rather safe than sorry. There is a history of ovarian cysts and fibroids in my family and with my previous visit, we discovered a small cyst on one of my ovaries that was causing me a bit of pain every now and then, I was advised that if at my next check up (in a few months time) it had gotten any bigger, that it would have to be removed. So on the one hand I’m so grateful that my pain has a reason now, but I’m not looking forward to my next appointment to find out if it’s bigger. The benefit of knowing is that I can get it checked at any time, and if I experience any more pain we just go get another scan and make sure that it’s not pinching something or rupturing.
All these health things aren’t here to fill us with worry, they are here to help us prevent and pre-empt any potential threats to our health. So take the healthy option and get your yearly check up with your gynae or GP and make sure you’re looking after your lady bits so that they stay with you for long as possible.
This informative article on Health 24 can also help answer some questions.