Making The Most Of Your OB/GYN Appointment

The dreaded OB/GYN appointment. For many women, seeing the gynecologist is just plain  nerve-wracking. You want it to be over and done with, and you also might get hung up beforehand on things that don’t matter; for example, the majority of us make sure that we shave our legs and bikini area to try and make the visit feel less…awkward. But what about the really important stuff? Before going to see your OB/GYN, you should be mentally prepared and ready to ask questions and discuss anything that is on your mind. Your vaginal health is just as important as your overall health, so take the time to make the most of your appointment by using the following tips.

Write Down Your Concerns/Questions

cell phone with a notebook over it and pen
Write down any and all questions or concerns you have so you do not forget to talk about it.

Whether it is your first time going to the OB/GYN, or your 20th time, it is always best to be prepared ahead of time; during your visit, you might get caught up in small talk or lose your train of thought and forget to ask the important stuff. So, before your appointment, take the time to write down any concerns and questions you have. For example, if you are experiencing unusual  discharge, itchiness, pain, or changes to your menstrual cycle, write these things down so you don’t forget to bring them up while you are there. It’s a great idea to put this all down in a note on your phone, so you know you won’t forget your list, and so you can easily pull up the note and check off each concern after you get an answer. 

Keep Track of Your Menstrual Cycle

Do you have an app to track your menstrual cycle? Having one makes it much easier to determine whether your cycles are normal or sporadic; in addition, your gynecologist will ask you when your last cycle was, so having it noted in your app will make this question easier to answer. It is important to talk about your menstrual cycle with your gynecologist in order to make sure there are no issues, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a thyroid condition, cervical or uterine cancer, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); conditions like this can cause changes to your menstrual cycle, and these changes can be the first indication that something is wrong. For example, PCOS affects between 1 in 10 women ( up to 5 million American women), and more than 50% of women don’t know they have it. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle, and speaking up about any issues you notice could mean the difference between getting a diagnosis for a condition like PCOS, and allowing it to get worse.

Talk About Everything…And We Mean Everything

a line split with a pink condom on one side and pills on another side of a line
Do not be afraid to talk about your sexual health, including any vaginal issues, STIs, or birth control.

Roughly 30% of women admit to lying to their gynecologists. Some issues are not easy to talk about, such as previous or current STIs, abortions, miscarriages, or how many sexual partners you’ve had, but this information is very important for your gynecologist to have so they can better understand your health and can better treat you. Leaving out important information could be disastrous for your health!  For example, if you have had unprotected sex and are worried about STIs, bring this up and ask questions. Or does cancer run in your family and are you terrified that you could end up with breast, uterine or ovarian cancer? Make sure to bring that up, and ask how to perform breast exams, whether you should seek genetic counseling, or what other things you can do to catch these cancers early. Think you might be beginning menopause or perimenopause  because you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, hot flashes, or mood changes? Talk about it so you can better understand it, know what to expect, and better prepare for this major change in your life. 

Follow up

Your relationship with your gynecologist shouldn’t end when you walk out of their office. If you have any follow-up questions or concerns after your visit, call them and ask away; even if you do not get to speak with your gynecologist, a nurse or physician’s assistant (PA) will be able to answer your questions. 

Your gynecologist’s office should be a safe space for you to talk freely about anything regarding your vaginal, sexual, and overall health. Remember, your gynecologist has heard anything you have to say before, so don’t feel embarrassed to talk about the heavy stuff that is important to your health – not being prepared to talk about these things could be detrimental to your health. It’s their job to keep you healthy and they will not judge you! 

It’s important that you’re comfortable with your gynecologist, so if you do not like your current doctor or are looking for a new one, you’ll need a health insurance plan that covers the doctor you want to see. Comparing plans in your area is the best way to find a plan that offers great coverage and covers your choice of doctor, and the best way to compare plans is to come to EZ! EZ will compare plans in your area for free, and will find an affordable plan with comprehensive coverage that covers your doctors, medications and more. To get free instant quotes on plans in your area, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak with an agent, call 888-350-1890. No obligation.

When To Have The Talk? It Might Be WAY Earlier Than You Think!

“The Talk.”

The one talk that every parent dreads having with their child: sex. Too many parents do not know when the appropriate age is to start sexual education. The more curious your kids are, the more they will seek out the information elsewhere, including from their peers. This will lead to misinformation. It is better to have the sex talk with your children when they begin asking about it. Of course, depending on their age, you only need so much detail. This is super important, because the more your child or teenager knows, then the more likely they will make good choices involving sex, such as protection use. Do not simply leave sex health up to the school system.

Silhouette of a woman and young girl on a bench facing each other.
It is important to educate your children as much as possible about sex, within appropriate ages.

Ages 2-5

It all begins when your child asks, “Where do babies come from?” When you start talking about your child’s genitals, it is important to use their proper names. “Penis” and” vagina” should be used, and not cutesy names. This will help your child express if their genitals hurt, or if they are having issues with them. Talk about both boundaries and propriety, especially involving other people. It is important for them to know what is appropriate and what is not. Starting these talks early with clear information should combat harassment.

When it is time for the “where do babies come from” talk, be general. Simply say that dad has sperm and mom has an egg, and when they come together, they make a baby. At this age, that should suffice.

Ages 6-8

Around the age of 8, children can explore touching their genitals or start masturbation. This is a good time to start talking to them about sexual abuse, and that masturbation is okay as long as it is done in private. You can build upon earlier conversations.

This is also a good time to start talking about sex and its procreative qualities, explaining in further detail that a penis goes into the vagina, and that is how the sperm meets the egg to create a baby. Also, explain that sex is not limited to just a man and woman, but rather between two consenting adults. It gives the child a more knowledgable idea of sex, without exposing them to too much. 

Ages 9-12

Your child will hit puberty during these years and will experience A LOT of emotions and physical changes. Research estimates that 90 percent of children today first learn about sex through viewing pornography. Other research reveals that a child’s first exposure to porn happens around nine years old. Because this age group has more freedom online, be sure to talk about internet safety. You can also bring up birth control and safe sex around this age. It is

Hand over a keyboard
Most children will have visited a porn site by the age of 9.

better to be informed by you  than misinformed by peers and porn that previews unrealistic expectations. Let your children know that porn is solidly a fantasy, and not just an instructional tool, so they do not rely on it. The talk around this age will better prepare your child for situations as they become older, and help make better decisions. 

Teenage Years

Do not describe sex as a forbidden fruit. This can foster negative views on sex as a rebellious tool. Instead, focus on these ideas:

  • Explain that when the time is right, it is okay, as long as it is chosen wisely. 
  • Reinforce the meaning of consent. 
  • Explain the use of protection in order to prevent pregnancy and STIs

Many parents think that if you have the safe sex talk with teenagers that it gives them permission to have sex. This is false. The more information you give to your child about it, the more likely they can better assess and judge a situation. Express the importance of safe sex, as well as the consequences of not being safe. 

Having the sex talk is not easy with anyone, especially with your own child. It is awkward and uncomfortable. However, for the sake of your children, it has to be done, and the earlier, the better. Be open to the conversation, and be honest. By providing your child with the correct information as they grow, the more you help them develop healthy intimate relationships. Break the silence, and communicate with your children, No one has their best interest as much as you do. Have the talk early and often.

How To Talk To Your Partner About Getting Tested

The rate of STIs has been steadily increasing in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that people avoid the topic.

In today’s world of dating with Tinder, casual sex, and “friends with benefits” arrangements, it can be tough to bring up the “have you been tested?” and “will you get tested?” conversations. The rate of STIs, sexually transmitted infections, has been steadily increasing in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that people avoid the topic, and dread the situations these conversations lead to. Two of the best ways to prevent STIs are to use protection and to get tested. Most people with STIs are unaware of their status because some diseases display no symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that there were more than 20 million new STIs contracted in the U.S. in 2016. Currently, there is a record-high number of new infections for the three STIs the CDC tracks at the national level: chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Do not simply take the person’s word for it. Have the talk, and get tested. But how do you lessen the awkwardness these situations bring?

Talk Before Sex

Never wait until things are hot and heavy to ask when the last time a person was tested, or if they would mind getting tested for STIs. If it is a one-night stand situation, then make sure you use protection, and operate under the assumption that they might have an STI. But if this is a partner you intend on having sex with regularly, or do not intend on using protection, then the talk should happen before sex. If you are seeing someone and have been having safe sex regularly, and decide you do not want to use protection anymore, get tested beforehand. 

Be Direct

The talk can be a little awkward, but do not beat around the bush. Be direct and straightforward. This kind of conversation should be taken seriously, not through a cute text, or with sarcasm. You can start off by saying, “I got tested last month, and I didn’t have anything. How about you?” Or, “Let’s get tested together to be safe.”  Or you can say, “I care about you and think that this is important.”

Share Your Results Or Last Time Testing

An easy way to begin the conversation about testing is by bringing up the last time you were tested, followed by your results. If you share your results, with your partner, whether positive or negative, it will get the conversation going. You can then ask about the last time they were tested and if they ever had any STIs.

If You Have An STI, Talk About It

Young caucasian man and woman sitting on a park bench talking.
When having the STI testing talk, make sure to be direct, and share your experience.

Be honest about having an STI currently or in the past. This will not only build trust with your partner, but it will give them space to be honest. It is not an easy thing to admit or talk about; it is actually quite embarrassing. Nevertheless, we must start talking. The more you open up about it, the more knowledgeable you will be about the different STIs. Most STIs are treated with medication, so finding out sooner may save you from later discomfort.

Some STIs can cause infertility, like chlamydia if gone unchecked for too long. Chlamydia rarely shows any symptoms, so you can have it for a long time (and spread it) before knowing you have it. The same goes for HPV. Men are just carriers of HPV, but it affects women and can cause infertility amongst other issues. Be understanding if your partner opens up to you about a current STI or past ones. Show compassion, and do not make it about how it affects you. If not, this will close off the person from telling you, wanting to get tested, or sharing the results with you. Be open-minded and direct. Nothing is sexier than that!