Maybe you and your gynae are pals and you tell her all the dirty details of your sex life, whether it’s recounting your youthful days as a siren who conquered her own manifest destiny of bedding all of the eligible bachelors in your city or sharing every step you and your husband have taken while working your way through sex therapists’ suggestions.
But, realistically, that’s probably not the case, and you’re more likely to approach your annual gynae visit with trepidation, viewing those stirrups as a symbol of torture. And perhaps you don’t like talking about vagina, viewing it as something you only look at when you insert and remove a tampon. But your annual gynae appointment is not the time to hold stuff back! In fact, the more info you share, the better – and these are some things you should never, ever lie about to your doctor.
1. What’s really going on with your sex life
Although it can be hard to remember all the pleasurable things that happened to your vagina mid-pap smear, don’t forget what your lady parts do when they’re not freezing up while your feet are awkwardly positioned in stirrups. Think about what they’ve been doing since the last time you saw your gynae. If your vagina has seen more suitors in the past year than usual, then you should tell your doctor. If you’ve been only with one guy forever, you should fill your gynae in on that, too. Why? It’s not so that you can come batting averages or to make you feel ashamed or to remind you about that annoying dry spell. It’s so that your gynae can know what to screen you for.
‘First and foremost, you have to share your number of sexual partners,’ says gynaecologist Laurie Birkholz. “Just so we can help a patient regarding to assessing risk – including common things like HPV, and more significant things, or more serious things like HIV. I’m always encouraging patients to be open. They may be a little embarrassed depending on that number, but believe me, as physicians we have heard it all.’
Not all gynaes want graphic specific, though – they just want to know if you’ve had anything risky happen recently.
‘I don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details,’ says gynaecologist Laurie Streicher, ‘but if you did have unprotected sex and you are worried, don’t lie.’
2. Who exactly you’re sleeping with
No, you don’t have to fill your gynae in on your secret tryst with your coworker, it’s to keep things accurate and, frankly, to not waste your or their time. For instance, gynaecologist Alyssa Dweck says it’s important that a woman inform her if she’s only sleeping with women – Dweck says she could be going on and on and on about putting the patient on birth control, when she doesn’t need to be on it at all.
3. If you smoke
You showered seven times to rid the smell of smoke off your body after chastising your drunken self’s logic that cigarettes totally go with martinis!!! Don’t tell your judgmental yoga buddy, fine, but tell the truth to your gynae.
‘Never lie about smoking,’ Streicher says. ‘A lot of times, if someone wants birth control and I’m deciding if it would be safe,’ she’ll ask them that. She says some people might be scared it will change her decision to prescribe them birth control or not, ‘but the truth is their risk is going to change based on that – with increased risks for blood clot, heart attacks, stroke.’
You should also be honest about how much you’re drinking – it’s important to know if you’re usually having, say, seven drinks over the course of a night versus just one. Knowing about a patient’s drinking habits is crucial, Dweck says. (For example: if you’ve had a few drunken Saturday nights and missed your 10pm pill, your doctor might want to suggest a different kind of birth control is best for you.)
4. If you’re taking vitamins or supplements
Don’t let any lore fool you. Even if you’re taking supplements a local wizened sage made from scratch from the dirt of the Earth, tell. Your. Gynae. And if you are the kind of woman who’s a ~casual ibuprofen user~, let your gynae know that, too.
‘A little pet peeve of mine is not knowing what supplements people are taking,’ says Dweck, ‘You ask them about medications, and they say, “I just take paracetamol,” and they fail to tell you they’re taking five over-the-counter herbal supplements things that could interfere with fertility or cause bleeding.’
5. If you’re experiencing any violence at home
Birkholz advises women to disclose if they’re experiencing any domestic violence, regardless if you’re pregnant or not, although pregnant women, she says, can be especially vulnerable.Why tell your gynae? Well, a recent study found that partner violence is one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths. If you’re not pregnant, your gynae can connect you with someone who might be able to help.
6. If you’re scared about missing the boat for having kids
So you’re flying your single lady flag high and have chosen to suppress your desires to have kid some day, but you’re telling your therapist about how you secretly doodle stick figure mothers and daughters on the back of your business cards. While you can keep your Freudian art between you and your therapist, you should tell your gynae that you might want kids someday – even if it’s something you feel can’t happen right now.
‘I think one thing patients never bring up is their time line,’ says Dweck. ‘We don’t want to miss the window of opportunity. We should start asking questions about child planning desires because fertility does decline.’ For example, a doctor could advise you about freezing your eggs if you want to have kids but motherhood seems like galaxies away.
7. If you have *any* questions
Sugarcoating your sex life when your hairdresser implores you for gossip? Fine. But if you have any questions about your sex life or anything vagina-related, ask you gynae.
‘I always encouraging patients to ask questions about sexuality if they’re having painful intercourse, if intercourse isn’t enjoyable, or if they’re thinking about using a vibrator or bringing some other item or idea into their sexual relationship,’ says Birkholz. ‘I think those are also important to speak with your doctor about, so we can help and provide resources and education.’
Once again: gynaes can’t read your minds or see into the past and future of your sex life by sticking a speculum up your vagina. They need guidance so they can provide you with what you need for your own health.
Bottom line? ‘We just want to know the truth,’ Dweck says, ‘there’s really no judgment.’
From Redbook US