There are some appointments we love to make; a facial, massage, a gossip sesh with the gals… The list goes on! Then there are those we put off for as long as possible; the dreaded bikini wax, the dentist, and our gyno…
We’ll be real with you guys; it’s awkward and sometimes feels a little invasive, but it’s also really important to get regular checks and know the answers to all those burning questions (no pun intended). So, we sat down – figuratively speaking – with two of the world’s top OBGYNs: Rebecca Booth, M.D Gynecologist, Co-Founder of VENeffect Anti-Aging Skin Care, and Mary Jane Minkin, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine, and asked them what is they NEED you to know. Here’s what they said:
1. They’re here to help, so ask questions
Dr. Booth explains that your gynecologist is simply here to help you understand your body; “OBGYN is the only specialty of medicine that is founded on wellness, not illness. Your gynecologist is your educator, diagnostician, protector, and confidante. As caregivers of women, we are proud to support the intricacies and vulnerabilities of our unique feminine physiology… There is no time to be embarrassed!” While Dr. Minkin adds “Probably most important, your gynecologist will not be judging you so don’t be afraid of telling her (or him) everything and ask everything (of him and her).”
2. If they ask questions, answer honestly
“Your gynecologist may seem to ask nosy questions, it is important to know how we can best help and optimize your feminine health. If you have any fears about fertility or your biological clock please ask your OBGYN. Other people in your life may seem nosy when they ask about marriage or children, but your gynecologist needs to know your goals so she can help you meet them. The biological clock starts ticking much earlier than many of us realize and how to negotiate with it is incredibly important. Don’t hesitate to make a plan with your doctor… they really are on YOUR side!” Dr. Booth told us.
3. They don’t care about your grooming habits
If you stress about the state of your lady garden pre-appointment, Dr. Booth reassures us, she doesn’t judge, period. “Women groom (and don’t groom) in all manner of different ways. Gynecologists appreciate that hair grows in many unexpected areas of the body and is actually protective of these areas. Often unexpected hair growth is normal: around the breast nipples, inner thighs, buttocks area, and others are prone to hair growth… Your gynecologist does not expect you to alter that, or even shave your legs or underarms. This being said, advise as we may, we cannot stop fashion, and we can help with challenges such as infected hair follicles, razor burn, excessive hair growth, and excessive sweating,” Dr. Minkin agrees “And we’ve seen tattoos and rings all over the body so don’t be afraid of going to a health care provider.”
4. Discharge is normal
Dr. Minkin confirms; “Most women have some discharge, so if your discharge has no odor, no burning or irritation, it’s probably nothing worrisome. But if it’s persistent, it’s a good idea to check in with your [health] provider.” Dr. Booth explains that discharge is actually a good thing: “It’s the natural way that the vagina stays moist, resilient, elastic and lubricated. The nature of the discharge is designed to shift with shifting hormones, clear and slippery during the fertile week, thick and pasty after ovulation, and yellow to tan before the period bleed begins. The birth control pill and other hormonal contraceptives can alter the nature of the discharge a bit.” For more deets on discharge, read this.
5. Odor isn’t something to worry about
“With access to bathing or showering most women do not notice a strong vaginal odor, but because the vaginal pH is designed to be very acidic, a slightly sweet/sour smell may be noticed. When your period bleeding starts the vaginal pH changes and a slight musty smell is common. The area around the vagina known as the vulva is very similar to your underarm area and may have a strong perspiration smell that should easily wash off in the bath. A strong sour, cheesy or fishy smell from the vagina can mean that the bacteria and other organisms in the area are out of balance and your gynecologist can help correct this.” Explains Dr. Booth.
6. If it hurts, consult a doctor
Dr. Minkin says “All women have pain during their period as the uterus makes a chemical called prostaglandin, which causes the uterus to contract, but it shouldn’t be excruciating. Medications like Ibuprofen and Naproxen should help manage the pain. But if you’re taking these medications and they don’t help, and you’re still in pain, check in with your OBGYN provider, because there are many things we can do to help. For example, birth control pills suppress ovulation and you make more prostaglandins when you ovulate. So birth control pills usually help with cramps.”
Similarly, she says “Sex should not hurt so if you are experiencing pain with intercourse, do check in with your provider.” Dr. Booth agrees; “Persistent pain that is very sharp or does not get better with time or lubrication should be assessed in the gynecologist’s office. Deep pain that does not seem to get better is less common, but again should be something your doctor helps diagnose and treat.” The moral of the story is: if it hurts there’s no harm in checking in with your OBGYN.
7. Kegel exercises are the bomb.com
Kegel exercises, aka when you exercise your pelvic floor, are seriously advantageous for your health. Dr. Booth explains “Kegels are a simple way to strengthen the pelvic floor, increase blood flow to the area, as well as give you more vaginal and bladder control.” Dr. Minkin says “I always say to patients it’s like advertisements for the musical CATS “Now and forever.” Do them whenever you can. One should set a goal of three sets of ten a day.” Find more deets on all thing kegel, here.
8. Your hormones affect your entire month, not just your period
Most women know how their hormones can affect their life before and during their period, but a lot of people don’t realize that your hormones play a much larger role. Understanding your hormones, and therefore your body is SO empowering and allows you to alter your routine to cater to the changes that are occurring. Dr. Booth gives a brief explanation of your hormone cycle; “Each day of the menstrual cycle is a reflection of the different levels of the “big three” hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Not only are we designed to have these levels fluctuate, but their relationship varies each day as well, influencing how we look and feel. The key is to understand why they fluctuate and what we can do to take charge of these variations.” To find out more about your hormone cycle, read this.
9. You need to take care of your vagina
While we spend hours slaving over our skincare routine and exercise regime, one area of the body that we often forget is our vulva and vagina. But understanding and taking care of your vagina is super important and again, really is empowering. Dr. Booth gives us a quick 101; “The vagina’s health is protected by its own environment and microbiome – a community of beneficial organisms that maintain the self-cleaning system that’s remarkable and unique in the body. The secret to a healthy vagina is eating a good organic diet, drinking plenty of water, avoiding antibiotics if possible, eating probiotic foods, as well as sometimes taking certain probiotic supplements (acid-loving bacteria such as a variety of acidophilus cultures).”
As well as eating healthily, getting in on the rising trend of feminine hygiene products can also be a great way to show your VJJ some love. And before you question if you really need them (which essentially, you don’t), Dr. Booth ensures us that they’re more than just a wellness trend: “I feel there’s an opportunity for feminine products to optimize our unique feminine physiology. Optimizing vaginal lubrication with oil-free, antibiotic-free, fragrance-free and pH balanced products is another much-needed frontier for women.” Check out more about feminine hygiene products and our fave brands here.
Let us know if you guys have any questions in the comments below.