There are probably many activities you would rather engage in than your annual visit to the gynecologist. As uncomfortable as this appointment may make you, it is a critical tool for catching and treating illness or disease. You may find a gynecological exam to be embarrassing or distressing. However, your doctor simply wants to provide you with the best possible care to keep you healthy and active. In order to do that, your physician needs you to be honest and relaxed. Check out these eight ways you may be preventing your doctor from giving you the best gynecological care.

8. Canceling Your Appointment

Canceling Appointment

The biggest barrier to gynecological care is a patient who doesn’t show up. You may think that a surprise visit from your period would interfere with a proper exam. However, your doctor should still be able to perform an exam and Pap smear despite the presence of menstrual bleeding. Furthermore, physicians are accustomed to the sight of blood and will not be horrified or disgusted by this occurrence. When you have an appointment on the books, make it a priority to get in and get the yearly visit behind you.

7. Self-Diagnosing Infections

Self Diagnosing Infections

The wide variety of over-the-counter treatments for urinary tract infections and yeast infections may tempt you to diagnose your own symptoms rather than turning to your physician. If you suffer from frequent yeast infections and know how to treat them, those over-the-counter meds may be just fine. However, many urinary tract infections require antibiotic treatment. Holding off and treating yourself with DIY remedies such as cranberry juice may allow the infection to spread to your kidneys. Give your doctor a call if you suspect you have an infection.

6. Withholding Prescription Information

Prescription Information

Your gynecologist will ask for the names of the medications you are taking. You may think your doctor need only be concerned with the meds that she prescribes for your reproductive health. However, other medications that you take can affect your health or interact with medications your gynecologist prescribes. It is helpful to bring a list of your prescription and OTC meds to any doctor appointments. It can be challenging to try to remember the name of “that little orange pill” when you are in the office.

5. Allowing Embarrassment to Prevent Frank Conversations

Frank Conversations

Your gynecologist is focused on helping you maintain the health of your reproductive system. As such, he or she needs to be equipped with accurate information about sexual practices or activities that may impact your health. There is probably nothing you could say that will shock your health care professional. Therefore, it is critical to put feelings of embarrassment aside and share information that can affect your health. Furthermore, it is crucial to know that you can feel free to ask questions regarding your health.

4. Skipping Pap Smears

Pap Smears

A Pap smear doesn’t make any woman’s list of favorite activities. However, this simple test takes only seconds and provides you and your doctor with critical information that can diagnose and prevent the spread of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 21 and 29 have a Pap test every three years. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have the test every five years. Women over the age of 65 who have regularly had normal Pap smear results may not require further testing.

Related: 16 Warning Signs It Is Time for a New Doctor

3. Relying on the Internet for Medical Advice

Medical Advice

Turning to the world wide web instead of calling your physician can fill your mind with false information and unnecessary fears. Allow your gynecologist to support you by refraining from using the internet as a diagnostic tool. The internet is filled with information. However, your doctor has your medical history, lab results, and the specialized training to speak to your specific symptoms and concerns. Giving your physician a call can allay your fears. Additionally, your physician can give you accurate information and determine if your medical concerns require further investigation.

2. Using Douches or Feminine Sprays

Feminine Sprays

There’s no need to use a douche or spray your privates with deodorizing sprays. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, douching can destroy the normal, healthy bacterial flora of the vagina. Interfering with normal bacteria in this area can lead to an overgrowth of disease-causing bacteria, resulting in infections. Your vagina is perfectly capable of cleansing itself naturally through the production of mucus. Other items that are linked to increased vaginal infections include scented feminine hygiene products such as tampons, sanitary napkins, powders, and aerosol sprays.

1. Worrying About Your Appearance

Your Appearance

If you dedicate time to worrying about the appearance of your private area while visiting the gynecologist, worry no more. These health professionals have seen it all. When they are conducting an exam, their focus is on efficiently and professionally performing the exam and moving on. Allowing worry over grooming, hair growth, and normal secretions only serves to cause you anxiety. Your gynecologist will likely not even notice. Instead of obsessing over your visit, simply make the appointment and congratulate yourself on being proactive in your healthcare. Then pamper yourself with a favorite treat when the visit is over.

Related: 14 Medical Conditions That May Stump Your Doctor


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