Kathryn Lindsay
August 30, 2015 6:00 am

Going to the doctor’s office can be overwhelming and scary and uncomfortable. By the time you get into the examining room, all the questions you have just fall away, because you’re nervous and just want to get it all over with. It helps to make a list, which is not the most fun activity in the world. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here’s a list of some important basic questions that you should bring to your doctor or OBGYN whether you’re sexually active, pregnant, or closed for business. Women’s health is always relevant and always important.

What are the warning signs for breast and cervical cancer?

Let’s just get the biggie out of the way. While all warning signs for women are different, lumps, swelling, itching or pain in the breast are some of the things to look out for. When it comes to cervical cancer, is your discharge irregular? Do you have painful or frequent urination? Pain in your pelvis, back, or during sex? Bottom line, if there’s anything making you uncomfortable or unsure, it’s better to be safe than sorry and bring it up to a professional.

How do I take care of things down there?

Contrary to popular belief, for the most part, your vagina takes care of itself. Things like douching can actually throw off the pH of the bacteria and acidity down there. But if you feel like you want to give your vagina some TLC, stick to the basics. Always use a condom and get regular exams. That’s just a starting point, your doctor should have some really helpful information to dole out.

How do I know when my period has gotten bad enough that I need help?

Periods suck, period. But it’s important to be able to recognize when they suck so much that there might be a medical issue. If your period is extremely heavy (if you’re losing more than five tablespoons of blood) then you need to make sure there isn’t an issue like uterine fibroids that might be the cause. This could also be causing excessive pain, or it could be something like endometriosis. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or things are getting irregular, call your doctor. Nobody should have to suffer through it.

What kind of birth control is best for me?

If you choose to be sexually active and you’d like to use some form of birth control, it’s important to consider your options. Take a look at this list so you can get an idea of what to discuss with your doctor.

I think I might have an STD—what’s next?

Don’t be ashamed and don’t just cross your fingers and hope that it will go away. Getting an STD is scary, but it happens to a lot of us. If you’re feeling a little off, experiencing things like pain and itching where you don’t want to experience pain and itching, consider some of the possible causes and just breathe. It sucks, but it’s not uncommon or shameful.

What side effects should I expect during pregnancy? 

For those who just need a cursory look as to what to expect, here’s an A-Z guide to the miracle of life. But if you’re about to embark on what is arguably the most fascinating and intense thing that the female body is capable of, you should get an idea of what you’re about to go through. Get a rundown of the timeline, and stay in the know about how to care for your body.

What side effects should I expect after pregnancy? 

So you’ve had your baby—yay! But the side effect fun still isn’t over. Your body is still going feel all outta whack, but that’s because it’s recovering from something incredible. There are things like postpartum depression and your post-baby bod, but then there’s a whole host of unexpected things that you don’t want sneaking up behind you.

What can I do to stay healthy overall?

You can never go wrong with this question. Maybe there’s a supplement your doctor recommends or an exercise regimen that is totally doable. Don’t be afraid to go deep, get real about some of your unhealthy habits and ask for help on how to change them. That’s what your doctor is there for!

This can feel like a lot, and that’s because women’s health is a wide and complicated issue. But it’s important to not avoid awkward conversations at the expense of your health. Odds are, you need answers to at least some of these questions. Why not make sure you nail it like the badass woman you are?

(Image via iStock)

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