Visiting your OBGYN, especially for the first time, can get a little awkward. You come in with all of these questions prepared, but then when you start talking to a physician about some of the most intimate parts of yourself, and you just freeze. To make this a little easier, we asked our St. Joseph Health OBGYN physicians some of the questions you might be too nervous to ask.
How can I ease my period pains?
Dealing with your period cramps each month can be frustrating, especially when the pain keeps getting worse and worse. You can try over-the-counter medication to ease this pain or consider using some of these natural remedies.
- Drink more water. When the body naturally bloats, it can cause discomfort and make menstrual cramps worse. Drinking water reduces bloating and can ease these pains; warm water is especially helpful in increasing blood flow through your body and relaxing your muscles.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Some foods, like berries, leafy greens, and fatty fish, can reduce inflammation by promoting blood flow. Other anti-inflammatory foods include tomatoes, pineapples, almonds, walnuts, and spices like turmeric, ginger, or garlic.
- Try herbal teas. Did you know that cramps are a result of muscle spasms in your uterus? Herbal teas have anti-inflammatory properties and antispasmodic compounds that can reduce these spasms. Drinking chamomile, fennel, or ginger tea is a natural way to relieve your period pain.
- Skip processed or high-sugar foods. Another way to reduce bloating is to skip foods that are high in sugar, trans fat, and salt. Swap out those cookies and french fries for a banana or unsalted nuts.
- Take dietary supplements. Certain supplements, like vitamin D, omega-3, vitamin E, and magnesium, absorb calcium and reduce inflammation. Talk with your primary care physician to determine which supplements would be best for you as they should not be mixed with certain medications.
- Use a heating pad. Applying heat directly to the pain area will help your muscles relax, improve blood flow, and relieve tension. The heating pad should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes on a low setting. You can keep the heating pad on for longer but no more than an hour.
- Reduce stress. Keeping your stress levels low can reduce your period pains. Try stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or anything else that helps your stress.
What is the fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection?
Yeast is a fungus that grows on your skin and in your digestive system, and if you’re a woman, yeast can be found in the vaginal area. Yeast grows normally in those body parts but can turn into an infection if it grows uncontrollably. The fastest way to treat a yeast infection is to see your gynecologist so they can prescribe an antifungal medication. Yeast infections with mild symptoms can go away on their own after a few days, but severe symptoms should be treated, otherwise, they could last for a few weeks.
How do I know if I am in menopause?
The average age for the onset of menopause is 51, and most women stop having their periods between age 45 and 55. Before entering menopause, your body will enter perimenopause, meaning hormone production from your ovaries will begin to decline. When you have completely stopped having menstrual cycles for 12 months, you have entered menopause. Other symptoms of menopause include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Loss of breast fullness
What can cause infertility in women?
Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or after six months if you’re over the age of 35). According to the CDC, infertility is a problem for about 10% of women ages 15 to 44 in the United States. The main cause of infertility in women is problems with ovulation, meaning there are no eggs in position to be fertilized. Ovulation problems are caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal abnormalities, or primary ovarian insufficiency. Less common causes of infertility problems in women are blocked fallopian tubes, physical problems with the uterus, and uterine fibroids.
When it comes to infertility, the factors women have control over include smoking, excess alcohol use, stress, poor diet, and sexually transmitted infections. If you have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, reach out to your OBGYN. You can also reach out to your physician if you’re experiencing health problems, like irregular periods, very painful periods, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or more than one miscarriage, as they could also be affecting your ability to get pregnant.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect my ability to get pregnant?
The CDC currently recommends that anyone 12 years of age and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including women who are pregnant or might become pregnant. There is no evidence that the vaccine antibodies affect fertility in men or women. In a study, researchers compared pregnancy rates among women—those who either built up antibodies from the COVID-19 vaccine or a recent COVID-19 infection or had no antibodies at all—and found no differences in the rates for each group. Many people have become pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, including some who got vaccinated during the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
How do I treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects a woman’s ability to ovulate and then become pregnant. While PCOS cannot be cured, there are ways to manage the symptoms of the condition. Treatment options may vary, ranging from lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery, based on your symptoms.
Lifestyle changes include regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, whole foods, and lean meats like fish and chicken. There are different medications available to treat the varying symptoms associated with PCOS, like irregular or absent periods, fertility problems, unwanted hair growth or loss, and acne problems. There is also a minor surgical procedure, laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD), that could treat PCOS if medication does not work.
What are the first symptoms of endometriosis?
The endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus, which sheds during menstrual cycles. Endometriosis is the planting of this inner lining somewhere other than the inner wall of the uterus. The abnormally located endometrial tissue responds to natural hormone fluctuation, the same as regular tissue located on the inner wall of the uterus. Thus, symptoms depend on the cyclical production of your hormones and the location of the tissue.
These symptoms include pain during menstrual periods, heavy or irregular bleeding, lower abdominal or back pain, infertility, pain during intercourse, and more. Endometriosis is diagnosed through examinations including laparoscopies, studying tissue samples, ultrasonography imaging, and MRI imaging. So if you’re experiencing any of the previously mentioned symptoms, visit your gynecologist for further testing.
If you have any more specific questions, schedule a televisit or in-person visit with a St. Joseph Health OBGYN physician to get your answers.