Top 5 Reasons All College-Aged Women Should See A Gynecologist
I get it – women don’t like to talk about their vaginas. I’m hardly the first person to realize this silence. Eve Ensler lamented it when she compiled The Vagina Monologues almost 20 years ago, and I’m lamenting it today. So let’s talk about it now. Here are five reasons why all college women should absolutely see a gynecologist based on U.Va.’s Student Health website, and I promise I will not use the term “sexually active” once in this article.
Seriously though, because Yahoo Answers sucks. A gynecologist is a great resource for any kind of female health problems you may be facing. Do you get really heavy periods with horrible cramps? Want to explore the possibility of birth control? Have questions about sex? Have questions about what’s “normal” when it comes to your body? Ask away and receive professional advice in return. The U.Va. Student Health website recommends learning “as much as you can about your own medical history” as well as that of your family to help answer any general questions the gynecologist may have for you regarding your health.
U.Va. Student Health recommends an annual gynecological exam “if you are eighteen years or older or have ever been sexually active” (Sorry - their words, not mine). Your gynecologist will ask you questions about your medical history, and most likely do an external and pelvic exam. The external exam is like a basic check-up, and the pelvic exam allows your gynecologist to check reproductive organs and make sure everything is normal. If you have had sex, it is likely that your gyno will do a swab for STDs. This is a lot less intimidating then it seems – your gyno will use a swab that looks like a longer Q-tip and will walk you through the entire process. It’s about as uncomfortable as having your throat swabbed for strep, and it’s definitely worth it for your health and peace of mind.
A lot of women have irregular periods, spotting, cramps, heavy periods, or some combination of these issues. Your gynecologist can talk with you about how to lessen these symptoms. Keep in mind that she might suggest the birth control pill, which is commonly used to help regulate periods. If you decide to take that route, certain birth control pills can make your period much less frequent or eliminate it all together.
OK, so I know it’s not the same as getting a free T-shirt or cupcake, but this is a huge incentive to go. If you receive a normal annual exam, “there is no fee for seeing a health care provider for examinations or counseling.” Keep in mind that while there may be fees for lab tests (like the STD swabs I mentioned earlier), receiving a standard annual exam and asking all the questions you want won’t cost you a dime.
U.Va. also has great resources apart from Student Health. Peer Health Educators, individuals who are “specifically trained to provide accurate general information about gynecological exams” can meet with you before your appointment to help answer any questions. PHEs are U.Va students, and from personal experience, sometimes it’s easier to be more candid with someone your own age. Check out this website for U.Va.-specific information, for more on PHE’s, and what to expect at your first gynecologist appointment. Now that you’re an expert on the importance of seeing a gynecologist – relish in your knowledge and make an appointment as soon as possible. You’re basically the Mindy Kaling of vaginas.