A watchful eye and a quick response are the best defense against serious health issues, but it isn’t always easy to tell when it’s time to schedule a medical appointment. While women are advised to consult with a gynecologist at least once per year regardless of age or sexual activity, some symptoms can be a warning sign that it’s time to call your OB/GYN right away. Below are some of the common signs that it is time to speak with your gynecologist.
Serious or Abnormal Pain:
Pain and discomfort in your abdomen or pelvic region can be a red flag for a number of serious medical issues. A sharp or sudden pain may indicate infection, or the possibility of a ruptured ovarian cyst. In pregnant women, severe pain may be the result of an ectopic pregnancy, a rare condition which requires emergency attention. Long-lasting pain or soreness is a symptom of dryness, bacterial infection, and uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths which often disappear on their own.
Some spotting between periods is nothing to be alarmed about, but it is time to schedule a visit with your gynecologist if you are experiencing a heavy flow after your cycle has ended, especially if pain is involved. While bleeding can be a symptom of vaginal injury or dryness, it is also a warning sign for cervical and uterine cancer, which means it should be reported to your gynecologist as soon as possible. Uterine fibroids, thyroid problems, and hormone imbalances may also contribute to excessive or unusual bleeding.
Swelling, Itching, or Burning:
Swelling, itching, redness, and burning around the vagina are symptoms shared by a variety of illnesses, including endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, urinary tract infections, and most sexually transmitted infections. See your gynecologist for diagnosis and treatment if you encounter these symptoms, especially if you have a history of sexually transmitted illnesses, suspect a sexual partner of having an STD, or if you experience pain during urination or bowel movements.
The color, consistency, and odor of vaginal discharge can often serve as early warning signs for more serious complications. Discharge that is green or yellow, or which has a strong odor, is typically a sign of a yeast infection or bacterial illness. If there is a sudden change in the consistency of discharge–especially if it is accompanied by itching or burning–speak with your gynecologist about vaginitis, a painful inflammatory condition usually caused by irritation or a change in the natural balance of vaginal bacteria.
Many common and relatively harmless issues share symptoms with serious health complications, which can make it difficult to know when it’s time to see a professional. While you shouldn’t panic if you experience any of the symptoms above, they may be a warning sign for an underlying issue, and it is worth scheduling a visit with your gynecologist to secure some peace of mind.