Going to the doctor, although necessary, can be a bit daunting, especially when you factor in exam anxiety at the OB-GYN. “Going to the OB-GYN often includes discussing sensitive topics, many that people have been told their whole life they shouldn’t discuss,” Dr. Danielle Jones, a board-certified OB-GYN and online educator who has amassed a following of over two million across social platforms (her Instagram handle is @mamadoctorjones), tells SheKnows. “People have been led to believe they shouldn’t openly discuss things such as periods, vaginal discharge, and of course, sex,” Dr. Jones notes. And not talking about sex, in turn, can prevent women from learning about different birth control options.
When deciding on a contraception method, factors to consider include safety, effectiveness, and availability (including accessibility and affordability), and it’s always best to ask your healthcare provider about these concerns. Being prepared by making a list of questions before your appointment can help alleviate some of the fear associated with going to the OB-GYN while making your appointment more efficient. Remember, your doctor is a professional, and whether you want to discuss birth control, pregnancy, or sexual health, they’re there to give you the best advice possible. If you’re starting to get nervous about your next OB-GYN appointment, there’s no need. The list of questions below may help you during your next visit.
As mentioned, there’s a lot of anxiety around sexual health. That’s why it never hurts to ask your OB-GYN if XYZ is normal. “People want to know if their periods are too heavy or too light, if their cramps are too excessive, or if their fertility is at stake due to various health conditions or concerns, etc.,” Dr. Jones says. “People ask about bladder leakage, breast pain, period cups, pap smears, painful sex, and libido changes. The list is long and varied.”
Many elements need to be considered before you choose a birth control option for pregnancy prevention. Your doctor can help guide you toward the one that’s right for you, but it also doesn’t hurt to research options beforehand. Hormonal contraceptives and intrauterine devices (IUDs) are effective at preventing pregnancy. LILETTA® (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 52 mg is an intrauterine system, or IUS (otherwise known as an IUD), that has been found to be approximately 99% effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 8 years in different types of women of childbearing age when used as directed. It’s a reversible form of contraception and requires professional insertion into the uterus by a healthcare provider.
Of course, not every birth control method is appropriate for every woman, so it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider to find out if you are a candidate. LILETTA should not be used in certain women, including women who are pregnant; have a pelvic infection (such as endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease), untreated genital infection, certain cancers, unexplained vaginal bleeding, fibroids that change the shape of the uterus, or short-term liver disease; get infections easily; or are allergic to any of LILETTA’s ingredients. Please see additional Important Risk Information for LILETTA below.
If you’re considering LILETTA, which can be used for up to 8 years, note that you can stop using it at any time by asking your healthcare provider to remove it. You could become pregnant as soon as LILETTA is removed (about 5 out of 6 women who want to become pregnant will become pregnant sometime in the first year after it is removed). If you do not want to become pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider because your new birth control method may need to be started 7 days before LILETTA is removed to prevent pregnancy.
Regular OB-GYN visits are an important part of routine care. This can encompass cancer screenings (with pap smears, breast exams, and mammograms), review of vaginal, uterine, and ovarian health and function discussion of menstrual health (an important determinant and outcome of sexual and reproductive health) and bone assessment (with bone mineral density testing), according to Dr. Jones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers an overview of sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing recommendations that is very helpful in addition to treatment options. The best things to do are to have an honest conversation with your doctor and practice safe sex to help prevent transmission. Many birth control methods, like the IUD, do not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections. However, correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission.
To put it simply, knowledge is power. Just having a basic understanding of what gynecologists do and things your body does that can be normal or abnormal allows people to feel more confident addressing these topics. “My goal online is to make every effort to provide free and accessible health information,” says Dr. Jones. “Oftentimes, even a little bit of comfort or knowledge is all it takes to empower someone to seek the care they need. Other things we can do are talk openly about our bodies and normalize the importance of gynecologic health.”
This article was created by SheKnows for AbbVie.
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