Like paying our taxes, going to the gynecologist is totally necessary, but not the most fun. Still, we want to make sure we’re getting the most out of our visits. That’s why we checked in with OBGYN Dr. Sherry Ross, author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., for the questions all women should be asking their providers.
1. When should I consider egg freezing?
According to Dr. Ross, fertility and family planning talks should take a front seat in your early 30s. “We know that fertility declines significantly in your mid-30s and declines even more closer to 40,” she says. “If you’re single and you’re not even thinking about future fertility, it may be time to have a conversation about egg freezing.”
2. Can I get pregnant during my period?
“While it’s hard to get pregnant during your period,” Dr. Ross says, “there are many women who use their period as a form of contraception.” Even though the risk is small, pregnancy can technically happen, since sperm can live for three days. It’s best to talk to your doctor about your ovulation window.
3. Is something wrong with me if I’m not getting a period every month while on birth control?
One of the side effects of the birth control pill is a light or non-existent period. For many women, this is a very pleasant side effect. Dr. Ross tells us that since many young women start the pill in their teens before they know whether or not they have regular or irregular periods, when they decide to go off the pill, they might attribute their irregular periods to the pill. “The birth control pill doesn’t cause you not to have a period,” Dr. Ross stresses. “It may be that once you’re off the pill, you may find you have an underlying hormonal problem that has been masked by taking the birth control pill.” If this is the case, you should alert your health care provider.
4. Will the birth control pill make me fat?
Ahh, of course. This question. Dr. Ross tells us that the birth control pill definitely has noticeable side effects during the first two to three months of taking it, the main ones being irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, nausea, bloating and headaches. “The scale may show a one- to three-pound weight gain, but studies show that this is a temporary side effect, and goes away after the first three months,” she says.
5. Is the vagina self-cleaning?
Yes and no… “I like to think of the vagina and vulva like your oven at home,” Dr. Ross says. “It may be self-cleaning, but you still have to clean the stove top.” Using vulva- and vagina-friendly products keeps the skin clean, hydrated and moisturized. How? “Your vulva does need a special cleaning routine, and it usually begins with using a special wash and warm water. I highly recommend Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash, which is made for our most sensitive area on our body.” She says that it also removes odor-causing bacteria and is free from any harsh chemicals. Noted.