Information gleamed from family members and the internet can cause confusion regarding your visits to your Houston OB/GYN. This misleading information can cause fear and trepidation about your upcoming appointment or lead you to delay getting the regular gynecological care that you need. It can also steer you in the wrong direction when asking for care and testing that may be crucial. Here we dispel 12 common myths about visiting your gynecologist.
MYTH #1 I HAVE TO BE 21 YEARS OLD TO SEE AN OB/GYN.
It is actually suggested that girls begin seeing their OB/GYN around the age of 13. Starting as a preteen gives them the opportunity to build a relationship with their provider and their physician can begin to build a history for their future gynecological health. Routine health screenings and guidance on menstrual cycles, sexuality, and STD and pregnancy prevention are all issues that an OB/GYN can help preteens with.
MYTH #2 I DON’T NEED TO SEE MY OB/GYN EVERY YEAR.
When you don’t notice any issues with your health, you may get lax about your OB/GYN visits. But you are missing out on important health screenings that check for high blood pressure, osteoporosis, STD’s and cancer. Any concerns that you may have can be discussed at this important yearly visit and there may be issues that are better addressed early on that your provider will be able to identify.
MYTH #3 IT’S FINE TO WAIT UNTIL I’M 40 TO GET PREGNANT.
The right time to get pregnant is different for every woman, but conceiving can get more difficult each year. The chance of becoming pregnant for women 30 and under ranges between 25-35%. At the age of 40, the chance drops to less than 10%.
MYTH #4 BEING ON BIRTH CONTROL FOR A LONG TIME CAN DECREASE YOUR FERTILITY.
Birth control is important for women choosing to hold off on having children or those wishing to regulate their menstrual cycles. Some women worry that their continued use of birth control can decrease their chance of getting pregnant. This is not the case. Once you stop taking birth control, pregnancy is possible but it may take up to a year for your menstrual cycle to resume its pre-hormonal schedule.
MYTH #5 GYNECOLOGICAL EXAMS AND PAP SMEARS INCLUDE STD SCREENING TESTS.
Without information from you that expresses the need for STD screenings, your OB/GYN would not suggest running one. It is also important to note that pap smears do not screen for STD’s. If you feel that you need to have this done, talk to your provider about the concerns you have.
MYTH #6 REGULAR GYNECOLOGIST EXAMS ONLY BENEFIT YOUR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH.
While your OB/GYN specializes in reproductive health, pap smears, and checkups can help to ensure not only this area, but your health as a whole.
MYTH #7 I DON’T NEED TO SEE MY OB-GYN ONCE I’M PAST CHILD BEARING YEARS.
OB/GYN’s are there to help more than just expectant women. Important cancer screenings, birth control options and help with menopause are all handled in your provider’s office. You should continue your yearly visits and regular preventive services even when you are not planning on conceiving in the future.
MYTH #8 BREAST CANCER IS THE NO. 1 KILLER OF WOMEN.
While breast cancer is frightening and takes the second spot, heart disease is the number one killer of women.
MYTH #9 YOU MUST CANCEL YOUR GYNECOLOGIST APPOINTMENT IF YOU’RE ON YOUR PERIOD.
You should take into consideration how heavy your flow is when deciding to cancel a gynecological appointment. A light flow should not interfere with an exam or Pap smear. An unusually heavy cycle may mean that you definitely should make your appointment and discuss this issue with your provider. If you are wondering just what to do, call your doctor’s office and ask them what they would advise.
MYTH #10 CERVICAL-CANCER SCREENINGS ARE ONLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE.
Cervical cancer can occur in anyone who has a cervix who has ever been sexually active. If you are under the age of 65, you should continue this screening. If you should have an HPV infection that has gone undetected, it can lead to cervical cancer.
MYTH #11 IF YOU’RE VACCINATED AGAINST HPV, YOU CAN SKIP YOUR PAP TEST.
There are several strains of HPV and the vaccine does not protect against them all. Cervical cancer screenings should continue even if you have been vaccinated.