Q: CAN I SAFELY HAVE SEX DURING PREGNANCY?
ANS: As long as you don't have a medical complication like a placenta previa, cervical incompetence, or unexplained vaginal bleeding, Hill says it's totally fine to go for it in whatever way is coziest for you and your partner.
While most women are comfortable in a variety of positions for the first two trimesters, by the third you may need to be strategic. Hill says the majority of women find that lying on their side is easiest, but try a variety of positions and use pillows to find what works best for you and your man. Just be careful of lying on your back, as doing so can cause some pregnant women to become dizzy and nauseous—not exactly that loving feeling!
Q: WHEN SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT A PAINFUL BUMP DOWNSTAIRS?
ANS: "An aching bump in the vaginal area is most likely a pimple or ingrown hair," Hill says. Both of which are not dangerous and will often resolve on their own. See your doctor for an exam if the bump persists for more than a few days or you can't figure out what it is, as it could also be a Bartholin's cyst, herpes, or genital warts.
Q: IS THERE LESS RISK OF PREGNANCY IF I HAVE SEX WITHIN THE FEW DAYS AFTER MY PERIOD ENDS?
ANS: The days right after and before your period are your least fertile, so if you have regular menstrual cycles, then you can use the rhythm method to avoid pregnancy, says Hill, who recommends using a period tracker app to take any guessing out of the equation. Of course—as with any birth control method—there's still a risk of pregnancy with natural family planning, especially if you're not good at keeping accurate records or have widely varying cycles.
Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SEE MY OB/GYN DOCTOR, AND AT WHAT AGE DO I START VISITS?
ANS: Young females usually should start seeing an OB/Gyn between the ages of 18 and 21, but earlier if they become sexually active or have abnormally heavy or painful menstrual cycles. They should also be seen if they do not develop a cycle by ages 14 to 16. While pelvic exams are rarely required during the first visit, this visit helps to establish a relationship with the doctor of your choice and to go over your medical and sexual history (even if you have not had sexual intercourse.) All women should have annual Pap smears beginning at age 21, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO BREAST EXAMS?
ANS: Although there has been national debate recently regarding how best to screen for breast cancer, the self breast exam remains the easiest, quickest and least expensive method for detecting breast masses. Once a month, after the conclusion of your menstrual cycle or if menopausal, at your discretion, you should perform a self breast exam. The most complete exam includes both lying down and upright evaluations. An exam in the shower with soapy hands is easy to incorporate.
By doing a monthly breast exam yourself, you learn how your breasts feel. This helps you detect any changes or signs of a problem. Any lumps, changes or nipple discharges should be discussed with your doctor.
Q: WHAT IS AN ENDOMETRIAL BIOPSY?
ANS: An endometrial biopsy is a small sampling of tissue from the lining of the uterus (womb). This procedure may be performed in the doctor’s office during a pelvic exam, and only takes a few minutes. It is similar to a Pap smear, although you might experience some cramping. The doctor might suggest that you take ibuprofen before your appointment. The biopsy is sent to the lab (to a pathologist) to look for abnormal cells, such as cancer. Your doctor can also see if your hormone levels are in balance based on the results.
Q: WHAT IS A HYSTERECTOMY?
ANS: A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus or womb. Depending on your age and the type of problem you are having, your ovaries and fallopian tubes might also be removed. Removal of your ovaries will result in a menopausal state, so this is a decision to make with your doctor before surgery. Hysterectomy is an option for treating multiple problems including fibroids, bleeding, pain, prolapse and several kinds of cancer. The recovery time depends on the type of surgery, for example abdominal, vaginal or laparoscopic (minimally invasive surgery).
Q: SHOULD I HAVE A PAP SMEAR AFTER A HYSTERECTOMY?
ANS: The frequency depends on your gynecologic history. Why did you have the hysterectomy? Did you have abnormal Pap smears or HPV (human papillomavirus)? Are you sexually active? It is still important to have a pelvic exam, of which the Pap is only one component. A pelvic exam should be a routine part of your annual examination
Q: CAN I BE TESTED TO SEE IF I'M FERTILE?
ANS: The decision to begin testing depends on a number of factors, including your age and your partner’s age, as well as how long you have been trying to get pregnant. You and your partner will receive care as a couple. Testing involves the following:
• Physical exam
• Health history
• Semen analysis
Ovulation check, such as:
• A urine test that the woman can do at home using a kit. This test measures luteinizing hormone, which makes ovulation occur. If the test result is positive, it means ovulation is about to occur. Sometimes these kits are used with basal body temperature charts.
• A basal body temperature test that the woman also can do at home. It is a way to tell that ovulation has occurred. After a woman ovulates, her body temperature increases a bit.
• Tests to check for a normal uterus and open fallopian tubes
• Discussion about how often and when you have sex
Q: WHAT ARE FIBROIDS?
ANS: A fibroid (also called myoma or leiomyoma) is a growth or tumor of the uterus that is almost always benign — that is, NOT cancerous. Fibroids are very common and occur in up to 60% of all women, usually during childbearing years. Many women have no symptoms, and fibroids are discovered during a pelvic or ultrasound exam. Some patients experience bleeding or pelvic pressure or pain. In rare cases, a patient may be unable to get pregnant. There are many different treatment options you may discuss with your doctor.
Q: I HAVE HEAVY, PAINFUL PERIODS. HELP!
ANS: Heavy bleeding is very common, especially in women in their 40’s. Many treatment options are available. The first step is to determine the cause of the bleeding, which might require a biopsy that can be done in the doctor’s office. You might be offered low- dose hormones or other medication to help reduce the bleeding.
A procedure called endometrial ablation is a very effective option that does not involve hormones or removal of the uterus (hysterectomy). This procedure can be done in the doctor’s office and is available to women who do not wish to have more children. Ablation destroys the lining of the uterus, and completely stops bleeding in many women. In some patients, bleeding does not stop but is markedly reduced. Pregnancy is not likely after an ablation, but may rarely occur. If you want to become pregnant in the future, you should not have this procedure.
Q: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR BIRTH CONTROL?
ANS: The most commonly chosen birth control method is oral contraception (birth control pills). However, options are new and improved! This is not your mother’s pill! In addition to birth control, the pill provides relief from heavy, irregular or painful bleeding and may improve complexion (acne).
For those who prefer not to take a daily pill (or if you can’t remember), Greystone OB/Gyn offers different options.
Essure is an in office procedure for permanent pregnancy prevention. The tubes are blocked from the inside of the uterus. This is a scheduled procedure that takes about 10 minutes to perform, and involves minimal recovery time.