Yesterday, I had my annual exam at the gynecologist’s office. Exciting stuff, right? Being newer to the Columbus area, it’s not always the best feeling to have to pick new doctors. And it’s not always the best feeling to invite a stranger to look at your vagina…
However, my visit was extremely informative. My doctor was straightforward and really told me everything I needed to know about my own personal health. I thought I would share some of her insight with you:
- Know the possible risks of taking any kind of contraception. I’m a true advocate for birth control and picking what is best for your body. It’s your health. It’s your sex life. It’s your flow. It’s important to have safe sex and to be aware of your options. However, it’s important to know possible side effects of taking any kind of contraception. My gynecologist said she has to inform patients that taking birth control pills increases your risk of having blood clots and a stroke. She’s not saying I’m definitely going to have a stroke, but it’s important to adapt to a lifestyle that won’t put you at a higher risk of getting a stroke. I’ve been on the pill since I was 16 years old. I almost ignored that key warning when I was that young because the likelihood of a stroke happening to me at 16 wasn’t very likely. But now at 23 years old, that information stuck with me. I’m still choosing to stay on the pill but I’m more aware of my overall cardiovascular health, especially since my father has a history of cardiovascular issues.
- You have more options about birth control than just the pill. Pick what is best for you. Exploring your options is important. There are pills, IUDs, shots, patches, condoms, emergency contraception, etc. You’re not limited to taking the pill. I choose to take the pill because it works with my routine and that’s what I feel the most comfortable taking. If you’re younger than 22 years old, find out more information with Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s BC4Teens awareness program and they break down options for you.
- Don’t forget diet and exercise affect not only your overall health but your lady parts’ health. Eating right and exercising regularly affect how everything “down there” functions. We can’t neglect our womanhood. Staying healthy leads to fewer complications down the road. I know I eventually want children so being aware of what I put in my body and how I treat it now is key for when that time comes.
- Genetic counseling may be something to consider. Since my dad’s mother passed away from ovarian cancer, it’s encouraged that I see a genetic counselor in order to find out if I hold a gene that puts me at a higher risk of getting cancer. If I do hold this gene, then I could be at risk of getting ovarian and/or breast cancer. If I know I have the gene now, then I can get examined more regularly to possibly prevent this from ever happening.
- There’s no such thing as a dumb question. If you have a question about your body, you have the right to ask a professional. They’re there to help you and give you answers to any concerns you may have. Don’t be afraid to ask.
This one annual checkup reminded me that knowledge is power. Knowing how you can help your body is crucial to leading a longer, healthier life.