14 Tips From Gynecologists That Every Woman Needs to Know

14 Tips From Gynecologists That Every Woman Needs to Know

 woman at gyno
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Aside from filing taxes and making unwanted visits to the dentist, we'll admit that gynecologist appointments are one of the things we dread more than anything. However, while these visits may seem awkward and definitely uncomfortable, there are ways to make your appointments as painless as possible.

And aside from better gynecologist etiquette, we asked our go-to pros to shed some light on some vaginal myths and rumors you've probably convinced yourself to be true. 'Cause seriously, there really is a lot of misinformation (ahem! douching!) going around. 

For better gynecologist appointments and improved vagina habits, here are 14 things your gynecologist wants you to know before coming into the office. Trust us: You may want to write some of these tips down.

  • Don't Downplay a Yeast Infection

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    "Any vaginal discharge, itching, or odor is probably a yeast infection," says obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Brandye Manigat. "However, a typical yeast infection involves lots of itching, very little discharge, and no odor."

  • Eating Yogurt Won't Cure Your Yeast Infection

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    "The general thought is that a yeast infection is due to a lack of bacteria in the vagina, and that consuming foods with bacteria like lactobacillus will help get rid of the infection," adds Dr. Manigat. "However, the only way that yogurt will cure a yeast infection is if you actually place it in the vagina."

  • Be Cautious of Inflammatory Foods

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    "To avoid inflammatory diseases like endometriosis, try to follow an anti-inflammatory diet (fish, greens, berries, whole grains) and avoiding inflammatory foods (i.e., sugar and gluten)," says board-certified reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Sheeva Talebian. "This may lower symptoms, and slow progression of this disease."

  • Avoid Processed Foods

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    "We know that processed and fried foods can cause thickening of your vessels and lead to heart disease and diabetes, but we don't think of the negative impact they may have on your reproductive system," says Talebian. “By causing weight gain and promoting inflammation, processed foods can make your periods heavier and more painful, and can fuel gynecologic conditions like endometriosis." 

  • No, Your Tampon Is Not Stuck Inside of You

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    "The vagina is a closed-ended pouch, and does not have a direct connection with the abdominal cavity,” explains Dr. Manigat. "Usually, when things are thought to be lost inside of the vagina, they are just at the farthest end of the pouch and difficult to reach."

    More from CafeMom: Would You Feel Comfortable With a Male Gynecologist? 

  • Always Be Prepared for Your Appointments

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    "Definitely come in ready to chat," says Jaime Knopman, a fertility specialist at CCRM New York. "We want to hear everything you have done, and everything you are planning on doing, so please bring a pen and paper so you can ask lots of questions." 

    More from CafeMom: Choosing an OBGYN: Which Sex Cares for You the Best?

  • Try to Come in Natural

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    "I recommend that women come into my office as natural as possible, as I want to see them in their most natural state to make sure everything looks right,” says Dr. Prudence Hall, MD, founder of the Hall Center in Santa Monica, California. "I also like for my patients to come in with a history of their menstrual cycle, which includes information on if their periods are regular and when their last cycle was." 

  • Seriously: Don't Douche

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    "If a patient has an infection or any kind of vaginal irritation or odor, do not douche before you come in," states Dr. Hall. "This will only wash away the vaginal secretion."

    More from CafeMom: Period Changes: What Is Your Body Trying to Tell You? 

  • You Don't Have to Shave Before Your Appointment

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    "I tell people that it's just us girls, so you really don't have to shave," adds Dr. Hall. "Don't worry! Your gynecologist is your friend. Go in as natural as you want." 

  • Please Keep Up With Exam Protocol

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    "If my patients need their blood drawn, they should only drink water the morning before they come in," adds Dr. Hall. "Similarly, if a patient has a mammogram scheduled as well, they should not wear any deodorant."

  • Yes, You Can Have an Exam During Your Period

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    "You can still have an exam if you are having your period," adds Dr. Hall. "However, make sure to ask your doctor if it's okay to get a pap smear on your period.  If we need to do STD cultures, we result to urine, rather than vaginal cultures." 

  • You Don't Have to Shower After Sex

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    "There's no reason to shower after sex at all," suggests Dr. Hall.   "However, if you are prone to urinary tract infections, a quick trip to the bathroom to urinate sometime during the night can help prevent it." 

  • Don't Freak Over Vaginal Noises

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    "There is nothing wrong with vaginal noises," says Dr. Hall. "Once women have had babies, their vagina tends to be a little bit looser, and air in the vagina can cause little burps as it's expelled. Even sometimes when women are doing vigorous exercise, the vagina can relax and basically expel air -- totally normal."

    More From CafeMom: What the Color of Your Period Blood Says About Your Health 

  • Keep Track of Your Vaginal Odor

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    "Vaginal odor is only not normal when it smells like fish or when it really smells like fecal matter," adds Dr. Hall. "It's also not normal when it's a greenish color or when it causes irritation (itching, stinging, or pain)." 

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