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Questions To Ask Your Gynecologist

OwningPink's picture
gynecology stirrupsOn the radio show I did with Tara Sutphen and Marla Maples, Marla asked me to give some guidance on questions to ask a gynecologist, so here you go, Marla- my thoughts on your great question. I’ll put on my doctor hat (and, even more importantly, my patient hat) and see if I can scrounge up some advice. Ever since I posted the Pretty Pink Pussy Tour, many of you have been asking questions, so I thought I'd give you a few guidelines about how to get the most out of your gynecology visits.

Not Everyone Is Lucky Enough to Choose Their Gynecologist

First off, I recognize that some women do not get to choose their gynecologist. You may not have health insurance, your insurance may dictate who you see, or there may only be one gynecology show in town. If you’re in that situation, I sincerely hope you have a great doctor. Gynecology is just too personal not to feel safe, warm, nurtured, and most importantly, HEARD. But if you have a choice, take the time to choose someone whose personality suits yours. There’s no one perfect gynecologist for every woman. My patients are used to the fact that I don’t wear a white coat, I sometimes swear in the exam room, and I talk about Yoni, my own girly parts. Because I don’t feel like I’m so different from my patients, I tend to have a very casual style with my patients. They all have my email address, and we communicate as peers, rather than me on my pedestal and my patient in the stirrups. Seeing me as a patient is more like taking a gynecologist out for cosmos. But my style is not for everyone. Some women are much more comfortable with a more serious doctor who lives in a ivory tower, wears a white coat, and quotes journal articles frequently (and we need docs like that!) But you’ll get the best care when you find a gynecologist whose style matches your preferences and needs.

11 Questions To Help You Get The Most Out of Your Gynecology Visit

Regardless, you can optimize your gynecology visits by making sure you ask your gynecologist what you need to know. Here are 11 questions to ask your gynecologist:
  1. Are there ways to optimize my lifestyle and nutrition that might improve my gynecological and overall health?
  2. Can you help me improve my sex life?
  3. Am I at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and should I be tested?
  4. Might my body benefit from hormone balancing?
  5. Are there things I can do to minimize my risk of cancer and other life-threatening diseases, such as heart disease?
  6. Can we talk about urinary incontinence and how to prevent (or treat) it?
  7. Is there anything I can do to help my bones as I age?
  8. If I was abused or raped, could that affect my pelvis? (This is a big one, Pinkies. It’s a painful topic, but you have no idea how often we see this and how reluctant people are to bring it up. So please, take the initiative and talk to your doctor, or at least your therapist, about this issue.)
  9. Are there preventative tests I should take to optimize my health?
  10. Should I be taking any supplements to improve my long term health?
  11. How will we communicate once I leave? Can I call you? Will you inform me of my test results? Do you have an email address I can use to reach you? What shall I do in case of emergency?
  12. How should I check my breasts? How often should I get mammograms, based on my personal risk?
Do you have others, Pinkies? What do you ask your gynecologist? How can I help?

With BIG PINK LOVE from in and behind the stirrups,

Lissa

Comments

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dearest Pinkies, I wish I

Dearest Pinkies, I wish I could answer every single question, dear ones! In light of my upcoming book, the opening of the Owning Pink Center, and the offer to write a column for First magazine, I"m having trouble keeping up here. But these are great questions and I'm so proud of you for OWNING your health. Stay tuned. When we relaunch Owning PInk in May, I will have a column that answers select questions once/week.

Much love Lissa Rankin, MD

Anu's picture

Hi Lissa, I am going to see

Hi Lissa,

I am going to see a ob-gyn for a pre conception visit.I am a normal weight, exercising,healthy eating (mostly)habits 30 yr old. What are the questions I should be asking? Thanks!!

Bella's picture

Hello! I'm very nervous and I

Hello! I'm very nervous and I would like some advice. First off, I am 18 years old and have never been able to use a tampon. I always thought I was doing it wrong but finally I figured it out and it was extremely painful going in and even worse taking it out. I've also never had sex because I'm afraid that it is going to hurt. This has been happening for years now and I don't know what it could be. Also, I think that I have a yeast infection so I made an appointment with the gynecologist at the college that I go to. This will be my first pelvic exam, and I'm so incredibly afraid that it is going to hurt me so much and I don't know how to relax. One of my friends went to the school gynecologist and said that the doctor was very cold, distant and barely talked to her. I'm nervous that she will not care if she is hurting me. I'm also very shy and I might be even more nervous about talking to the doctor, I'm scared that I will freeze up and forget what to say and then ask to leave. I don't know how to get over this fear and I have no idea how I could make myself relax, do you have any suggestions? thanks so much!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Sweet Ana, Grab a girlfriend,

Sweet Ana, Grab a girlfriend, pick up a home pregnancy test, and just do it- like ripping off a bandaid. The anxiety over whether or not it's true may be worse than the truth. It may just be crazy hormones, which can happen when you're a teenager. You can do it, honey. And you're strong enough to handle anything. We believe in you. Sending you love and a little prayer for peace Lissa

ana's picture

Ok i just wanted to say that

Ok i just wanted to say that this website helped alot...i have a little problem and im trying to seek a ob/gyn im 18 years old and i got my period two days delayed and it was like any other period or so i though i had it for a day and then the next day it compleately stopped then the next day after that it came back in the evening and the next day in the morning it left after that it didnt come back is that normal? i know you cant answer medical questions but im really worried i might be pregnant... thanks for your time!!:)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Katie, without seeing you and

Katie, without seeing you and knowing more about you and your body, it's so hard for me to say. You Pinkies keep asking so many questions and I seriously want to help. Let me brainstorm about how I might be able to help answer some of your questions.

In the mean time, Katie- I would see what happens this cycle and don't worry too much. Sometimes it's just a fluke that your cycle gets off. But if it persists, see your gynecologist. Be well, sweetie!

Katie's picture

I had my period for four days

I had my period for four days and it stopped two days ago. Last night up till this morning I have had pain/cramping and I have begun to bleed again (not horribly but it looks like my period starting again). I thought there could be three reason for this. I had chili last night and the cramping is just gas and I just didn't finish my period. Two I had a terribly intense workout yesterday night for the sport i play and my body cant handle it. Three my boyfriend was a little rough with me two nights ago. I don't know what it is exactly.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Shona, There's no quick

Shona, There's no quick answer to your question about how long you can have sex. I'd have to know why you're having problems. If you live in the Bay area, come see me for an appointment and we can dig further into what's going on. I'm sure there are solutions and a gynecologist can help you, but i can't fix this one over the internet. Big love Lissa

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Shona, I wish there was

Dear Shona, I wish there was an easy way to change your breast size, but I'm afraid there's not. Exercises, medications- none of the rumors are true. Your body was just made that way- and you're PERFECTLY NORMAL. Love and honor your body just the way it is, and have fun with padded bras or silicone inserts you can stick into your bra. And although I don't recommend it, there's always plastic surgery. But why fix what ain't broken? You're perfect, just the way you are, love.

shona's picture

i cant have sex for more than

i cant have sex for more than 3 or 4 minutes.i cant satisfy my partner?hw can i improve my strength and time?

shona's picture

i m 24 yrs old.my breast size

i m 24 yrs old.my breast size is 28.i want to ask hw can i increase my breast size?an also my one boob s small in size and one is large?example one is of 28 nad one is of 30?it looks bad?wat can i do to make them equal?

Anonymous's picture

i m 24 yrs old.my breast size reply

Hi dear dont worry its natural because everyone has used one hand mostly
if u want equal jsut suck ur small breast mostly.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Habba, I'd have to know

Dear Habba, I'd have to know more to answer your question- and this isn't the place for me to be offering medical advice. But I wish you health, joy, fertility, and blessings. With love, Lissa

HABBA's picture

after two delavary with

after two delavary with operation i want to be pregnent with test tube baby can you advice.can this is good for delevary to my babys or any problem in steachers.

Lissa Rankin's picture

What a great question! Of

What a great question! Of course every doc is different, but in general, your gynecologist will manage your coochie, your boobs, your bladder, and sometimes your butt. Personally, I also manage thyroid, adrenal hormone balancing, minor high blood pressure, sinus infections and colds, and some other general health stuff- but that's pretty rare these days.

On the other hand, when you're pregnant, your OB may serve as your primary care doc because primary care docs often get wigged out about what they can give a pregnant woman. I know when I practiced OB I managed EVERYTHING- high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, pneumonia, kidney infections- but sometimes in conjunction with a specialist, like a cardiologist, a high risk OB doctor or an infectious disease specialist.

If you're not sure, just ask your doc. Chances are, if you live in a big city, your doc will do less than if your doc lives in a small town, where there are fewer specialists. Just ask.

Personally, I like my girls to tell me everything, and I'm quick to ask for help if it feels out of my league. Then I call in the team and we all co-manage.

mwiggy's picture

Hey Doc, I was looking for

Hey Doc, I was looking for questions for a ob/gyn. i really love that you had this online. i what to know what is normal to ask your ob/gyn, and what needs to go to your other Dr. this is always a big issue with me and was really hard this last year when i was a pregnant i didn't know who to call? both of my dr did there best. if you cant answer this can to say what you would like your girls to come to you for ???

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Ted, I'm sorry, sweetie,

Dear Ted, I'm sorry, sweetie, but I can't answer medical questons on this website. I would suggest seeing your doctor. It's probably nothing serious- things like swelling during your menses can be totally normal. And upper abdominal pain could be any number of things. But OWN your health and see your doctor. You'll feel much better after a professional tells you you're a-okay. Wishing you health and love Lissa

Ted's picture

Hello , Im 21 yrs old,

Hello ,

Im 21 yrs old, single..

I have peculiar pain in my upper abdomen which comes and disappears often now a days.

One more prob is that my ankles swell during my periods.I consulted my physiotherapist she suspected that the contractions of the uterus might compress the kidney a bit which causes swelling in the ankles..Is that the reason.Im so worried she suggested me for takin an ab scan and a blood test too..Is there anything serious?

Lissa Rankin's picture

If you find someone you love

If you find someone you love in LA, please post it here. I've been asked constantly to refer to someone in LA! Good luck sweetie.

Melissa's picture

I sincerely appreciate your

I sincerely appreciate your time, Lissa.

I really am leaning towards flying my butt up there. But will check out the info you provided and perhaps can find me a Lissa-alike here in LA.

I can't wait until your book is out. :)

Lissa Rankin's picture

I honestly don't know how to

I honestly don't know how to help you find other docs who think like me. I'm kind of a rare bird- I know one other doc who practices just like I do in Santa Cruz- Rachel Carlton Abrams. There are many integrative medicine docs but many of them practice more of what I would call natural medicine. Instead of treating your depression with Prozac, they'll treat it with 5-HTP. But what I consider truly integrative is when you approach the patient from the inside out- looking at the whole picture- to help her figure out why she might be depressed and go to the root of it (and then add 5-HTP or Prozac if necessary). I guess I practice Love first...and then medicine second.

But if you're looking for docs who have trained in integrative medicine, check out the grads from Andrew Weil's University of Arizona fellowship: http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/alumni.html

Good luck honey!

Melissa's picture

That leads me to my next

That leads me to my next question - you are seriously a diamond in the rough as far as demeanor/bedside manner, as well as how you approach your clients (whole person, naturally, etc.) - how would I start to find more doctors like you? Should I call you for recommendations? Do you have a sub-organization to the ACOG that I could look up natural-minded docs in my area?

The internet, while vast and useful, hasn't been too helpful in my searches.

If not then I guess God is telling me to either a) move back up north so I can visit your facility or b) schedule my exams around JetBlue deals. :)

Thanks for the wonderful reply! -Melissa

Lissa Rankin's picture

Hiya Melissa! Wow- what a

Hiya Melissa! Wow- what a great question! What would I hope to be asked? Well, I love it when my patients really want to partner in their health care, so I love any question that shows an interest in education about your body. But I also do a lot of work with my patients in matters of creativity/spirituality/whole body wellness, so I guess I would love it if someone asked, "What might I expect to get besides my Pap smear?" My staff jokingly calls me the gynechiatrist! Or "How might I optimize my life?" Or "How could I be as vital as possible?"

Great question. Thanks for putting my noggin into high gear, love!

Melissa's picture

Hi Lissa! I am seriously

Hi Lissa!

I am seriously happy that I stumbled on this site. It is so refreshing to see an OB roll up her sleeves and settle in with the troops.

I actually am in the process of shopping around for a new OB and was looking for questions to ask my potential new doc. If you got a call, what would you hope to be asked?

Thanks!

I might just be tempted enough to fly up there for my yearly exams!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Oh Paige, honey- I wish you

Oh Paige, honey- I wish you lived in the Bay area so I could do your next exam. I would take such good care of you...

You must find someone exceedingly gentle, kind, patient, and not rushed. I had one patient who had a traumatic past GYN exam and it took me over 2 hours to get her comfortable enough to be examined without triggering her past stuff. Ask around for a doctor with a very nurturing bedside manor.

Don't let your past get in the way of your current health. It's not worth it. When you do go to the gynecologist, try bringing a guided imagery CD or download one to an Ipod. Listen to it starting 5 minutes before your exam and throughout the exam part of the visit. Explain to your doc that you had a bad experience last time and you'll need a little extra TLC. Be honest about how you feel.

Sending you healing juju for your next exam, love xoxo Lissa

Paige's picture

I have not had a

I have not had a gynecological exam in over 6 years.

At my last visit, I was 200+ pounds overweight (I weighed nearly 400 pounds).

The doctor who examined me was brusque, physically rough during the exam (which was perfunctory), and made several rude, derogatory remarks about my weight all the while expressing her displeasure at the difficulty she was having examining me properly due to my size.

I have since lost over 200 pounds and am in the 100s in weight. The trauma of that exam, however, has never left me. I am terrified to see any gynecologist, even though I am no longer heavy.

I know I need to be proactive regarding my health care needs, but I am terrified to get examined.

Please advise.

monika's picture

Thank you very much madam

Thank you very much madam

Lissa Rankin's picture

I"m sorry honey. I can't

I"m sorry honey. I can't practice medicine over the internet. You'd have to come see me at www.clearcenterofhealth.com. If you don't agree with your doc, get a second opinion.

Blessings, sweetie. xoxo Lissa

monika's picture

Sorry madam i am not getting

Sorry madam i am not getting your answer. Madam i have wound gap(1/2inch) in my vaginal(because of failure of stiches in normal delivery). Is any problem without filling the gap with stiches. one doctor told come after 3 months again for stiches and another doctor told no need to worry about stiches it will not effect anything. please give ur advise

Lissa Rankin's picture

I'm sorry honey. That's such

I'm sorry honey. That's such a bummer. I hope it goes well, love.

monika's picture

Madam, I given birth to a

Madam,

I given birth to a boy child in normal delivery with 3 stiches but that wound is not jointed. After 10 days of delivery i went to doctor she said that no need to worry about the stiches (no problem for again to do stiches). Now 3 months over from delivery is necessary to take the stiches

Lissa Rankin's picture

Usually a pregnancy test will

Usually a pregnancy test will be positive within 14 days after you might have gotten pregnant.

Good luck Rohini. And just as a reminder to everyone, I cannot use this site as a place to offer medical advice.

Here's why: http://www.owningpink.com/2009/05/04/the-doctor-is-in-in-spirit-why-you-deserve-more-than-an-internet-doctor/

Rohini's picture

I also did not have my

I also did not have my periods properly.. Do i need to go for pregnancy test?? And after how many days of having sex should one go for pregnancy test??

Lissa Rankin's picture

Rohini- It's not uncommon to

Rohini- It's not uncommon to get your period early when you take the morning after pill. But yes, take a pregnancy test to be on the safe side. Blessings Lissa

Rohini Sharma's picture

I took i pill within 72 hrs

I took i pill within 72 hrs of sex and now i'am having my periods 15 days earlier. What should i do?? Should i go for pregnancy test?? And is it that if one has her periods in next of month of having sex then she cant be pregnant??

Lissa Rankin's picture

I'm sorry sweetie. I can't

I'm sorry sweetie. I can't help much from here, but if you feel like you have hemorrhoids, you probably do. Try some hydrocortisone cream & tell your GYN to put on her headlight and go hunting to help you. Blessings and hopes for a healthy bum, Lissa

lee's picture

Hi. i am 18 years old, and i

Hi. i am 18 years old, and i am pretty sure i have hemmorhoids. I noticed them a little bit over a year ago, and i went to my regular doctor who looked very quickly and basically said she did not see much. i know they are there, but about a week ago they started getting pretty uncomfortable and they still are. I have been using witchhazel pads and some ointment. i do not see or feel any changes. HELP! i have an appt with a gynecologist in a week...

Lissa Rankin's picture

Yes, definitely ask your gyn

Yes, definitely ask your gyn about your hemorrhoid. Boobs, coochies, and butts all fall into our purvey. Be well!

Elizabeth's picture

I've lately been having

I've lately been having problems with what I believe is a hemorrhoid. I have an appointment with a gynecologist in a couple of days and wondered if this is something I can ask her about or are those types of things best suited for a more general practice Dr? Also thank you for the information you provided it is making me feel more comfortable with my upcoming appointment and less like it's a dreaded chore.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Good luck with the interview,

Good luck with the interview, Beth. And what a great idea. So often people don't realize that we docs are in the service industry. We are here to serve your needs. You have every right to interview us to see if we're a good fit- and if we're not, move on. Just understand that your insurance might not pay for multiple visits in a short period of time with different docs. But trust me- it's worth it to find a doctor who really cares about you and can meet you where you are and help you co-create your own optimal health.

Beth Wilson's picture

Thanks Lissa. I am post child

Thanks Lissa. I am post child bearing age and have had an endometrial ablation in 1996..and thank god so far no periods. whoooohooo but i just need to find one who i can talk to about perimenopausal stuff, hormones since mom died of Breast cancer and was only woman in family to have it..etc..yeast infections. God the list goes on and on and i am not comfortable with the other docs in my old gyn practice.. got name from a friend she loves her gyn.gonna go interview him.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Kym- I would recommend

Dear Kym- I would recommend seeing your doctor. I'm sorry, but this isn't something I can help you with without examining you. Sending you best wishes of health for you. And congratulations on your pregnancy. I hope this is good news. xoxo

kym moyer's picture

My perium..the area between

My perium..the area between rectum & vagina has a patcy white spot... like the skin has changes color or lost it's color. This has happened in thepast few weeks and not sure if related but just found out that i am pregnant... I have had 7 kids & this has never happened before...also this past week my tongue is VERY sore... looks almost whiteish & feels as if burned or raw for no reason?? Please help

Lissa Rankin's picture

Best way to do that is to ask

Best way to do that is to ask around. If all the people you love adore their gynecologist, chances are it's a good doc. If you're not sure, set up a consultation so you can interview the doc about her/his philosophies, practice styles, etc. But be aware that insurance may not cover such a visit. If you make an appointment and don't feel comfortable with the doc you chose, don't feel obligated to stick around. Finding a doctor you feel safe, comfortable, and nurtured with is important, and you deserve it!

Ann's picture

How can you choose a good

How can you choose a good gynecologist?

susanna's picture

Hey!!! What about the two

Hey!!! What about the two litte, or sometimes big, things that nourish our little ones? :)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Nope not me- borrowed that

Nope not me- borrowed that one! Who am I gonna ask to take my photo in my office? LOL!

Kittie Johnson's picture

Nice article & helpful.

Nice article & helpful. BTW-is that you in the stirrups or did you just borrow a picture? Just curious:-)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Hey, half the women I see are

Hey, half the women I see are no longer of childbearing age. Of course you're included, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth's picture

Thank you for making this

Thank you for making this about all women, not just women of childbearing age! I feel included. :-)

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