Gynecology Visits: Myths and Misconceptions

Like just about everyone else, we love the internet, but at the same time, we are aware that while it contains a wealth of great information, at times it can also contain a wealth of myths and misinformation. And that is certainly true regarding visits to a gynecologist. So, we’ve assembled many of the common ones into this blog, where we dispel these myths and misconceptions.  

#1: You must be 21 years old to begin seeing an OB-GYN

This may seem obvious  to many, but there are a surprising number of well-meaning people who believe this. The fact is, however, that girls as young as 13 can begin seeing an OB-GYN. The doctor can provide routine health screening, and answer questions/concerns regarding the menstrual cycle, sexually transmitted diseases, sexuality, safe sex, and pregnancy prevention.  The visit generally does not include a pelvic examination for our youngest patients unless clinically indicated.

#2: You only need to visit the OB-GYN during child-bearing years

In fact, you should routinely visit your OB-GYN over the entire lifespan. Seeing your OB-GYN routinely gives you the opportunity to discuss any unusual or concerning bodily changes that accompany aging, pre-menopause and menopause. Plus, your OB-GYN can screen you for various kinds of cancer, such as cervical cancer.

#3: You only need to visit your OB-GYN if you are pregnant

Regular visits to your OB-GYN provide the opportunity for your physician to screen for cancer, discuss any concerns/question you may have about your sex life, provide birth control plans, and many other issues related to the female body.  If appropriate, we can also discuss getting or preventing a pregnancy at these visits.

#4: It’s just fine to wait until age 40 to get pregnant

Many more women are waiting later and later to get married and have children. Many in their 20’s and 30’s are quite busy with their careers, socializing with friends and casual dating, and don’t want to get “tied down” so young. The belief out there is that it’s just fine to postpone pregnancy until after age 40 or even later.

Unfortunately, that is not true. Healthy women in their 20’s and early 30’s have about a 20% chance of getting pregnant during each monthly cycle. That chance or probability level drops significantly by age 40+, to less than a 10% chance during each cycle.

Moreover, while we do use fertility treatment to help patients achieve a pregnancy, it can be less successful with age.

#5: Being on birth control for a long time can decrease your fertility

Not true – using birth control over a long period of time does not decrease your fertility. Over time our fertility does diminish therefore if we only stop birth control much later in life it can be difficult to get pregnant.

#6: You Only Need to Schedule Visits When Your Pap Smear is Due

False. Regardless of how often you need to have a pap smear done, it is still important to visit your OB-GYN annually. During regular visits, you have the opportunity to discuss your sexual activity, number of sex partners (to see if additional tests are required). Your OB-GYN can also help check your breast health and answer additional questions you may have.

#7: Pap Smears are Required Annually

In fact, once you have a history of normal results, pap smears (to test for cervical cancer) in general are required only once every three years. Further, for most women, a pap smear is unnecessary until age 21, even if sexually active before then. Of course, if prior testing detected precancerous cells are pap smears needed annually. 

#8: Pap smears also test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Not true. Some OB-GYNs automatically test for STDs, but many do not. Many gynecologists will only run the full span of STD screening tests in the situation where there is a high level of risk. This is why it is critical to be completely honest with your OB-GYN about your sexual practices and history. It is critical for you to speak up about any questions or concerns you may have regarding STDs, and you should speak up about wanting to get tested, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or are experiencing STD-like symptoms such as unusual discharge, difference in odor, or any unusual pelvic discomfort. You may especially want to be tested if you have had multiple sexual partners.

Let the doctors at Harmony OBGYN clear the air of these myths and misconceptions. If you have any further questions please contact our office serving Somerset County. You can call 908-757-9555 or click here to contact us online and we will get back to you for an appointment. Our offices in Edison and Somerset serve the Middlesex and Somerset County areas of New Jersey.

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