When to see a GP about ‘down there’
Women’s health can feel like an awkward subject sometimes, but it doesn’t need to be.
It’s totally understandable that you might feel a little bit worried about a GP looking ‘down there’, and it’s certainly something that we as gynaecologists hear every day in our line of work. It’s your (very) personal space, an intimate area that is difficult to talk about sometimes.
However, just like any other part of your body, your vagina needs to get checked by a GP occasionally, especially if it’s not feeling quite right. It’s better to sort these things out with an understanding GP or gynaecologist, and it’s something that almost every woman will have to go through at some point so you’re not alone. Here are some of the main reasons that you may need to see a gynaecologist about ‘down there’:
Discharge is a completely normal thing to experience, and most women get it to some extent. However, if you see a change in your discharge, or it has an unusual smell or texture, then seeing your GP is always a good idea. A lot of my patients are worried about general discharge, but it’s only really a cause for concern if it’s yellow or green in colour, it has a texture similar to cottage cheese, or it has a foul odour to it.
Soreness and itching
Itching and general discomfort when it comes to the vagina is another thing that I see in a lot of my patients, and whilst it’s something that all women experience occasionally, continued and persistent itching and soreness could be a sign of an infection, so if you suffer from this then visit your GP. This is also a side effect of some of the yeast infections that cause unusual discharge, so look out for multiple symptoms.
Another thing that causes a great deal of worry amongst my patients is unexplained and abnormal vaginal bleeding, and bleeding can be considered abnormal if it lasts for longer than 7 days, you get more than one period a month, or you’re bleeding in between periods. Whilst it could be nothing, you could have a thyroid problem, premature menopause, low egg reserve, an infection, a polyp or fibroids, so it’s worth taking a trip to the GP or seeing a private gynaecologist like me if it’s recurring.
Pain after or during sex
Frequent pain during or after sex is usually your body’s way of saying ‘something’s not right down here,’ so you should never ignore it. Talking about sex might feel uncomfortable but I can promise you, as doctors and gynaecologists, we’re completely used to dealing with problems like this every day of the week. Pain could be down to a number of factors including endometriosis which we can offer treatments for to relieve your symptoms so once again, try not to worry about coming to talk to us about this. The sooner we can find the problems, the better.
A strong vaginal odour is another common symptom ‘down there’ which I hear many women feel embarrassed about so put off seeing someone about it. But it can be something that really holds you back from carrying out those everyday commitments. Strong vaginal odour can be a symptom of bacterial vaginosis, which whilst irritating, is easily treated. If you’re worried about a strong odour, then visit a GP, and don’t try to fix it with excessive washing, which could make it worse.
I hope that clears up a few of the common concerns you may have about ‘down there’. They might seem like relatively minor issues for you as a busy mum or professional but they’re usually your vagina’s early warning system so take heed. Many of these problems can be sorted out quickly and efficiently, so that you can go back to leading a normal life, unbothered by these symptoms.
My final bit of advice is always to book an appointment with your GP rather than self diagnosis with ‘Dr Google’ – I can’t tell you the number of patients I’ve seen over the years who have worried unnecessarily because of reading something on Google that wasn’t relevant to their condition. And if you have any further concerns, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation with me at my private practice in Leicester.