Do I need to see a gynaecologist? When it comes to gynaecological health, women often feel too embarrassed to talk about any issues, and so what could require quick, simple treatment can sometimes develop into something more serious with permanent effects. Consultant Gynaecologist, Dr Alex Eskander, here at The Gynae Centre, outlines some of the most common signs you need to see a gynaecologist.
1. You’re bleeding and it’s not normal for you
Whether it’s that your periods are heavier than normal, have stopped, or perhaps you’ve started spotting. Each woman’s normal menstrual cycle is individual; some women menstruate lighter, heavier, shorter and longer, others experience spotting as a normal part of their cycle. But if you experience anything that’s not normal for you, it’s important to get seen right away as this could indicate something is wrong.
2. You’ve got lower abdominal pains
Whether it’s a dull throbbing or a sharp intense pain, if you are experiencing lower abdominal pain that is different to your usual menstrual cramps then it’s time to visit your gynaecologist. This kind of pain should not be ignored as it could indicate one of a number of serious conditions, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), endometriosis, ovarian cysts or even appendicitis.
3. You’ve got a new sexual partner
STIs like chlamydia can lead to permanent fertility issues if not treated. Most women with a STI won’t experience any symptoms, so if you’re intimate with a new partner we recommend booking in for a mini sexual health screen for peace of mind. It’s also advisable to learn about the first signs of an STI. 90% of individuals will come into contact with the HPV virus in their lifetime, which can be caught through skin contact (not just penetrative sex), and can lead to cervical cancer. Additionally, if you’ve been trying for a baby for a year but have not been successful, there’s a chance an STI could be the cause.
4. Your vaginal odour doesn’t smell quite right
It’s normal for your vaginal odour to change at the different stages of your cycle – particularly around menstruation. However, if the smell changes and becomes unpleasant, or fishy, this could be a sign of an STI or a bacterial infection and should be treated as soon as possible. Unpleasant vaginal odour could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which can be caused by having sex with a new partner, using perfumed products in the vagina and douching inside the vagina with water or feminine products, which changes the delicate pH balance of the vagina and can cause infections. Treatment of bacterial vaginosis requires antibiotics. Although it’s important to keep the outer vulva area clean, the vagina itself is self cleaning and so it is not recommended to douche with water or any other product.
5. You’ve got an itch you just can’t scratch
Vaginal itching can be incredibly uncomfortable. Some of the most likely culprit for this is a yeast infection which can be caused by many different factors, including stress, the food you’re eating, pregnancy, antibiotics and also hormonal changes in the body like menopause. STIs are also known to cause vaginal itching and if you’re sexualy active it’s possible chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genital herpes could be causing the problem.
6. Abnormal vaginal discharge
White discharge which changes in texture depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle is normal – at certain points in the cycles it can be thicker and more viscous, then other times more slippery and thinner. Most women are familiar with how their vaginal discharge changes throughout the month. If you experience any discharge is not normal for you – for example, it becomes thick and lumpy, or changes in colour, you should see your gynaecologist as soon as possible. Common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge include bacterial infections, STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, vaginitis and even more serious conditions like cervical cancer.
7. Sex is uncomfortable
One in ten women in Britain experience pain during sex, according to research. Whether it’s pain at the point of penetration, a burning, aching, throbbing or pain deeper inside the vagina, it’s important to get this checked out. STIs, thrush, endometriosis, PID and menopause are some of the most common reasons for pain during sex. Another possible reason is vaginismus, a condition where the muscles around the entrance to the vagina involuntarily tense up at penetration. This affects a surprising number of women and can even affect their ability to use tampons. Sex is an important part of any relationship and all women should be able to enjoy it. If you’re suffering with vaginismus, we provide a highly effective treatment in the form of Botox injections which you can read more about here.