You probably take care of a lot of other people in your life, from children and a spouse to your parents or boss, but in too many cases, women simply do not make their own health a top priority. Unfortunately, putting your own needs aside can have severe consequences, especially considering that many diseases and conditions are much more manageable when detected early. Putting your own health first doesn't mean neglecting anyone else, it simply means you value your own physical well-being enough to protect it and one of the most effective ways to protect your precious health is by visiting an OBGYN (Obstetrics and Gynecology) for regular checkups and whenever you think something may be amiss with your body.
1. Irregular Menstrual Periods
Any drastic change in your periods could indicate a number of health issues, from an improper diet to dangerous levels of stress to thyroid malfunction.
2. Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
While discharge, to a certain extent, is a normal function of the self-cleaning mechanism of your body, if there's more than usual or any new odor, color or consistency, you should find out why. Abnormal discharge may be an indication of infection, which, if left untreated, poses a threat to your health.
3. Changes In Breast Tissue
Beyond the observation of a lump or mass, other slight changes could indicate problems, such as a rough or bumpy texture on the skin of your breasts or sore nipples. Never miss your monthly self-examination and don't wait to report anything strange to an OBGYN.
4. If Intercourse Is Painful
Dyspareunia, the technical term for painful sex, may mean a number of different things going on with you. If you've had a traumatic experience in the past involving intimacy, moving on to normal sexual relations can be difficult, with the memories manifesting themselves as physical pain. In terms of medical abnormalities, your pain could be due to an ovarian cyst, vaginal dryness or a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). No matter what the cause, though, don't be afraid to address this pain with a professional.
5. General Discomfort In The Vaginal Area
Tenderness, itchiness, dryness, redness and other complaints about your very personal parts warrant a conversation with an OBGYN. The cause could be something as simple as a reaction to a new laundry detergent or you could be dealing with a yeast infection, but either way, in addition to being cumbersome and uncomfortable, you need to know (and possibly treat) the underlying cause.
6. It Burns When You Pee
Experiencing a burning sensation when you relieve yourself isn't just an agonizing feeling, it could be an indication of a serious problem, such as an STD or urinary-tract infection (UTI). A UTI can evolve into life-threatening sepsis, so do not take this symptom lightly.
7. You're Peeing Much More Often Than Normal
If, seemingly all of a sudden, you're constantly struck by the urge to run to the bathroom, you could be dealing with a UTI, cyst, vaginitis or even something far more nefarious, like diabetes or cancer. Listen to your body when it speaks to you in a manner which is out of the ordinary, as whatever it's trying to tell you is likely something a doctor should help you with.
8. There's Blood In Your Urine
Just like excessive urination, the presence of blood (that you can see, called gross hematuria) can be the result of a number of scenarios, from infections to cancers; however, many foods and some medications may cause a discoloration of urine. To be on the safe side, put a call in to your OBGYN, so together, you can rule out anything serious.
9. Your Hormones Are Out Of Whack
Whether you're a teenager going through your first year of periods or a woman in midlife worrying about perimenopause, when hormones aren't balanced, your whole being suffers. The important chemicals that regulate sleep, hunger, moods, sexuality and more could be adversely affected by an under or overactive thyroid and a simple blood test can make that determination. You might have high levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), possibly indicating the presence of Hashimoto's Disease, but if the TSH is low, you could be dealing with hyperthyroidism. Even if no abnormalities are evident in your blood work, hormone imbalances should be investigated and treated, when possible, due to their impact on your quality of life.
10. If You Just Don't Feel Like Yourself Or Have The Notion That Something Is "Off"
You know your body better than anyone and you also know when something just isn't right. An OBGYN is highly-specialized, focusing on the unique problems and challenges faced by women, above and beyond the standard physicals, pap smears and other preventative measures every female should take. If, for any reason, you have the feeling that something is "off", talk to one, even if you can't quite put your finger on the problem. It's worth investigating what your body may be trying to tell you and what your intuition may be picking up.
Even in the absence of symptoms, an OBGYN, such as George L Stankevych, MD, can detect issues that could be life-threatening, which should prompt you to schedule and keep appointments for checkups. Routine exams save lives and keep you healthy, so you can continue to take care of the other people in your life. If your health is not a top priority, you may not be in the position to help others at some point, meaning the best way to truly help those you care about is to care for yourself, first.