5 Secrets You Need to Tell Your Gynecologist

From the easy-to-forget details to the hard-to-talk-about problems, your doctor needs to know it all. By Corrie Pikul Provided by Oprah.com

Posted on | By Corrie Pikul

1. The Things Patients Don't Want to Discuss with a Doctor

These include the high-stakes secrets that women share only with their therapist (or their therapist-like best friend), like the fact that they're having an affair with a married man, sleeping with more than one guy, or having unprotected anal sex.

Reasons to Talk About This: There are over 40 kinds of STIs, and some can be life threatening if left untreated. Your doctor may notice something unusual during a pelvic exam or a Pap smear, but many STIs require separate tests, says Lauren Streicher, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Contrary to popular belief, there's no one test that can "catch everything." You might need to get a swab for gonorrhea and chlamydia (which doesn't usually present obvious symptoms), or you may need a blood test for herpes, HIV, hepatitis and syphilis, and these aren't usually part of a wellness visit.

2. The Things Patients Don't Want to Discuss with Anyone, Ever

Pain during sex, urinary or fecal incontinence or an uncomfortable anatomical quirk — these are all topics that some women are still loath to talk about, even in a world of way-too-intimate pharmaceutical commercials.  

Reasons to Talk About This: "All of these are treatable," says Streicher. Excruciating intercourse could due to vaginal dryness (this is the most common cause of painful sex in women of all ages), or a condition like vaginismus or vulvodynia, all of which may be helped by lubricants, prescription medication, or pelvic floor physical therapy. Incontinence of any kind is a widespread problem, says Streicher, and gynecologists have several options for treatment, ranging from physical therapy to surgery. As for your unusual body issues, she's seen them all (even rectoceles and if you don't know what these are, you should feel relieved), and most likely has the solution for your discomfort.

3. The Most Dangerous Habit Patients Neglect to Mention

We're referring to what some of us do most Friday nights.

Reasons to Talk About This: It's essential for your gynecologist to know if you smoke, says Streicher, even if you're more of a half-pack-one-night-a-week type than a pack-a-day type. Smoking is one of the main factors that affects whether HPV will progress to a form of cancer, she says. And as you already know (but may have forgotten), smoking is also associated with high risks for blood clots, heart attacks and strokes for women taking hormonal contraception, especially for women over 35. The World Health Organization has estimated that women who smoke cigarettes while taking the pill are 20 times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers.

Article written by Corrie Pikul
Contributor from Oprah.com