Let's face it, we all tend to get a wee bit uncomfortable when we go to see the gynaecologist. Maybe it's got something to do with social taboos when it comes to talking about what's going on down there, but most of us tend to avoid asking some of the questions we would like. Even though being spread-eagled in front of a stranger may not be the perfect conversation starter, our gynaecological health is more important and fragile than we sometimes realise. So, we decided to reverse the process, and ask a leading gynaecologist to tell us what she would want her patients to know, instead. We spoke to Dr. Aastha Gupta, Obs & Gynae at Delhi IVF and Fertility Centre, who shared the following pertinent points that she would like every woman to bear in mind when it comes to your health.
1. Your protection and safety is in your own hands
In today's day and age, where almost everyone has been with multiple sexual partners, women need to understand that they should be firm when it comes to avoiding unwanted pregnancy and sexual health. Also, being on birth control does NOT protect you from infections and STDs.
2. Not all infections give you symptoms at the time:
Just because you feel okay, doesn't mean you are okay. Especially if you did end up having unprotected sex, it might be wise to get checked up for any infection that could wreak havoc on your gynaecological health and cause long term problems if left untreated. Trust us, you do not want to discover it 10 years from now when it might be too late.
3. Cervical cancer is the most common cause for women's deaths in India:
As shocking as this sounds, it's true. Most women don't even know that this cancer is contracted like an STD infection and is preventable through vaccination. This vaccination is best done before you loose your virginity, but must be done ASAP. Which brings us too...
4. A PAP smear is one of the most important test you can get done:
The HPV virus which leads to tons of health complications and also causes cervical cancer can live in a curable state in the cervix for upto 10-15 years. The problem? People neglect to look for it until it's too late. Getting a PAP smear test done a min. of every 5 years post 30 in imperative to preventing fatal diseases, so book yours right away. You can even make a fun plan with your girls and go get mimosas after!
5. All questions you want to ask are legitimate:
Leave your embarrassment out of the room, and be honest. Not only have we heard and seen it all, but we also need to know everything to make a proper diagnosis. Painful sex IS a symptom, being dry IS a symptom, so don't hold back on sharing the smaller details. If you don't ask, we won't be able to help you. Remember that whatever happens in our office stays there, it is part of our oath, so treat it as a safe space.
6. At least visit your gynae once a year:
Don't wait till a problem happens, keep a check on your health and prevent it. It's important to get the right direction at the right time.
7. Don't cancel your appointment if you are on your period:
We deliver babies, and find it very natural. Don't let it stand in the way of getting an important check-up. Also, menstrual blood is sterile, so plz don't worry about it being unhealthy. The best time to asses certain things is actually day 2 of your period.
8. Discuss your fertility options with your doctor:
Don't wait till you plan on getting pregnant to get informed on options such as egg- freezing , it's better to have all the right information with you, before hand. Same goes for birth control. A doctor can help you find the right pill or implant that suits you, you don't need to suffer about it.
9.The vagina is self-cleaning:
Using spray, wipes, v-washes and douches can actually disrupt your Ph and cause infections down there. Ideally, even soap should be avoided.
10.Grooming is not necessary down there:
It's normal and natural and also provided natural protection to have hair on your genitals. While we might do it for aesthetic reasons, one should not think of it as un-hygienic. In fact, badly done grooming or procedures can actually cause problems. Keeping it short and trim is enough. Also , your gynaecologist won't even notice your personal grooming, so please don't worry about that.
11. UTI's can happen very often:
A woman's urethra is only 4 cm and extremely delicate. Don't think just because you cured it once, it cannot come back. Go and see your doctor if you feel or see anything funny at all down there.
12. Don't use a tampon all the time:
There is a risk of toxic shock involved, so use it if required for your convenience for travelling or swimming and revert back to sanitary napkins. Do change your tampons and napkins within 3-4 hours maximum to stay healthy and clean.
13. Don't depend on online information:
The internet is full of conflicting facts and misleading diagnosis. Come speak to your doctor instead.
14. Get prenuptial testing done:
We live in world where pre-marital sex is almost a norm. Speak to your partner frankly and go get your tests done together, so that you can enter a new phase of your life without any doubts or stress.