When coming to the office for an annual exam, many patients assume the doctor will take over and drive the conversation. But don’t let that prevent you from bringing up concerns or addressing recent changes in your health.
There are many things you should also consider telling your doctor even if you aren’t all that concerned or even asked.
Here are five things you should tell your gynecologist at your next visit:
1. Changes in your menstrual cycle. If your period has become heavier, longer or just fallen off track all together, we want to know about it. There are a large number of health factors including weight, age, diet, medication, stress and even environmental factors that can change your cycle.
2. Any over-the-counter supplements you are taking. Any medication, including supplements, can have a large impact on your health and some carry side effects you may not know about. Remember, the FDA is not required to study or list side effects of medications labeled as “supplements,” so you don’t always know what you are getting. You shouldn’t assume they are safe unless you talk to your doctor.
3. Changes in your weight. It’s a difficult subject to broach with anyone, let alone your doctor, but if you have put on some pounds in recent months it’s an important subject to address. Almost every human has fluctuations in weight… even doctors! (We’re human, too!) But if you have had a large or sudden increase in weight and haven’t addressed it with your doctor, it’s time. There are several medical conditions, including low thyroid, which may contribute to weight gain. Many conditions which result from excess weight, such as diabetes, should also be checked.
4. Difficulties with mood, relationships or stress. Many people assume their physician doesn’t want to know about their personal lives, but it’s just the opposite. Emotional and mental health has a huge impact on our physical health and should always be addressed at well checks. Large amounts of stress can trigger changes in your menstrual cycle, contribute to weight gain, can exacerbate autoimmune disorders, and generally are not fun! There are many things your physician can do to help, including:
- Targeting issues to reduce physical impact.
- Helping you cope and build strategies to get better.
- Providing a referral for counseling if needed.
- Prescribing medications if depression or anxiety are severe.
5. Inconsistency in taking your contraceptive pill. Many people find it hard to admit when they don’t take their prescribed medication correctly, but we definitely need to know. For one, oral contraceptives aren’t as effective if you are missing pills or take them at different times every day. Missed or late pills can lead to irregular cycles. If taking it at the same time every day is difficult for you, we can discuss other contraceptive options which may be a lot easier and convenient. We won’t know to discuss these issues unless you let us know.
Finally, make sure to let your Methodist Physicians Clinic Women’s Center gynecologist know if you have any questions. We are happy to address issues or concerns you many have and keeping that line of communication open will help keep you healthier and happier in the long run.