There are a lot of things you do once a year – celebrate your birthday, renew magazine subscriptions, make New Year’s resolutions, oftentimes break those resolutions and, if you’re a woman, you’re *supposed* to go to the gynecologist for an annual check-up.
I’m well aware that many young women have not been to the gynecologist before. Maybe they aren’t sexually active, don’t have problems with their period, are nervous to go… the list goes on. But if you’re a college-aged female, there are many reasons you should start going to the “lady doctor.” Here are just a few:
1. You’re 15+.
The experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women should start making annual trips to the gyno somewhere between the ages of 13 and 15. For many women, that’s around the time you start menstruating. Maybe your period has been smooth sailing, but just to make sure everything’s working, you should continue to go in for an annual check-up.
2. Your monthly mensies are making you miserable.
Whether you have crazy cramps or mood swings that have you using the hashtag #sorrynotsorry, going to the OB/GYN would be a good start to finding out what could have changed. There are a lot of hormones involved in keeping your reproductive system running. Stress, weight gain or loss, and several other factors can throw that off balance.
3. You’re having sex.
OCPs*, STIs**, HPV*** – Oh my! Navigating birth control options and methods for preventing sexually transmitted infections** can be overwhelming. And whether you’re sexually active in the context of a relationship or not, it’s important to think about these things. Finding out how to prevent pregnancy and STIs (or get tested for them) are all important things you can talk about with your gynecologist.
*oral contraceptive pills
4. You think you might have a yeast infection, but don’t really know…
Talking with the ‘lady doctor’ about your symptoms can help you rule out what’s going on and how to treat it. There are a lot of the over-the-counter options, but it’s good to go the doctor in case you have something that requires a prescription medication.
5. Taking care of yourself couldn’t be cheaper.
Almost all health insurance plans are now required to cover the cost of annual visits to the gynecologist under the Affordable Care Act. If you’re a full-time BU student or have the Aetna Student Health plan, you can setup an annual check-up at Student Health Services at no charge.
If you’ve never been to the gynecologist before, check out this article from Women’s Health that offers a pretty good run-down of what to expect at the gynecologist. Or for a more humorous depiction of what might happen, check out what the ladies at MTV’s Girl Code have to say (cue the video the clip at 10:24). It’s a little less rose-colored, but I think they ultimately drive the important message home: Don’t be afraid of the gyno!
SPREAD THE HEALTH: If you’re a college-aged women, it’s time to add the gynecologist to your annual routine of doctor’s visits. An OB/GYN can help with miserable mensies, mood swings, birth control options, STI testing, and more.