The United States Preventive Services Task now recommends most women only get a pap smear once every three years. Does that mean you should skip the yearly gynecologist visit? It depends. OB-GYNs can deal with a range of sexual, reproductive and gynecological health issues, from HPV screenings and breast cancer risk factors to abdominal cramping and low sex drives. Here are some of the (obvious and not-so-obvious) questions you may want to ask your doctor on your next visit.
1. How can I make PMS symptoms less severe?
2. Could I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder?
3. Why do I get cramps at times other than my period? (It could be totally normal or it could be a sign of conditions such as endometriosis.)
4. Should I worry about an irregular period?
5. Should I get tested for sexually-transmitted infections, and which ones? (The eight common ones, in order of infection incidence, are HPV, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV.)
6. How often should I get STI tests?
7. How often should I get a pap smear (considering individual risk factors)?
8. When should I get my first mammogram and how often should I get them?
9. How do I perform a breast self-exam correctly?
10. What should I do if I feel something off during my self-exam?
11. How do I assess my breast or ovarian cancer risk?
12. Should I be concerned about my family breast cancer or ovarian cancer history?
13. How do I test for a BRCA gene mutation?
14. Am I eligible for and should I get the HPV vaccine?
15. How can I prevent frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infections?
16. What do I do if I notice yeast infection or UTI signs?
17. What might cause itching or burning other than yeast, urinary tract or sexually transmitted infections?
18. Is my sex drive "normal"?
19. I'm X-years-old, should I be concerned about fertility?
20. Should I adjust my birth control choice if I don't want to get pregnant now but do in the near future?
21. What are my best birth control options?
22. Are hormonal contraceptives safe considering my age/smoking/personal or family health history?
23. Is there a cheaper generic version of this birth control?
24. Will Plan B be effective for me?
25. Where can I get Plan B emergency contraception?
Come armed with these questions and ask those that apply to you so that you can get a better picture of your reproductive health.