When to Go to the Gynecologist

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Obstetrician-gynecologists, or OB/GYNs, are doctors who are educated to provide medical care to women. While obstetrics focuses on pregnancy care and delivery, gynecology is the part of the specialty that focuses on women’s health and the female reproductive system. OB/GYNs can provide a number of services gynecological to women, so if you’re wondering when to go to the gynecologist, use the following guide.

Annual Visits

If you need to know when to go to the gynecologist, remember you should always go once a year for a well-woman exam. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women should start seeing the gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.  The types of examinations included in a well-woman visit can vary based on a woman’s age and medical history. But these exams frequently include general physical exams, pelvic exams, Pap tests, or HPV tests. You can also use these visits to discuss birth control and family planning, depression, weight management, and other health issues.

Changes in Your Period

Not every woman’s menstrual cycle runs like clockwork. Some women may have slightly irregular periods for different reasons without there being a medical concern. But if you notice a big difference in how often you menstruate, how long your period lasts, or how much cramping and bleeding you have during your period, make an appointment with your gynecologist.

Family Planning

Another time you should go to the gynecologist is to discuss family planning. Your doctor can counsel you on birth control options and even fertility. Your gynecologist is uniquely qualified to provide guidance on how to prevent pregnancy as well as how to improve your chances of conceiving. 


When you’re pregnant, you will need obstetric care rather than just gynecological care. But if you suspect you may be pregnant due to a missed period, you can ask your gynecologist to give you a pregnancy test. Plus, your gynecologist should also be a board-certified obstetrician so you probably won’t have to switch doctors when you get pregnant.

Pelvic Pain

It is normal to experience some cramping or discomfort during your menstrual cycle. Cramping just before and during your period is common and some women may even have some discomfort during ovulation. However, if you are experiencing chronic pelvic pain that is out of the ordinary, you should see your gynecologist. Pelvic pain may be a symptom of something simple like a urinary tract infection or something more serious like pelvic inflammatory disease, so you should get it checked out.

Intimate Pain or Discomfort

Vaginal itching, dryness, discomfort, or pain can be symptoms of several different conditions. These conditions include yeast infections, urinary tract infections, bacterial infections, and certain sexually transmitted diseases. If you have had yeast infections in the past and are familiar with the symptoms, you may not always need to see the gynecologist. But if you haven’t had a yeast infection before or have additional symptoms, this is when to go to the gynecologist.

Sexual Dysfunction

If you are experiencing problems with sexual intercourse, then your gynecologist can help. Issues can be related to sexual response, desire, painful intercourse, or other aspects of sexual function. Most people will experience one or more of these issues at some point, but if the problem is recurrent and persistent enough to be interfering with your life, seeking medical advice from your gynecologist is recommended.

STI Screenings

Your gynecologist can perform tests to screen for sexually transmitted infections. You can talk to your doctor about when and how often you should be screened, but if you have multiple partners, new partners, or have symptoms of an STI, contact your doctor to get tested.


If you have trouble with bladder or bowel control, you can consult your gynecologist about these problems. Incontinence can be a symptom of a larger problem so having symptoms evaluated is importance. If a pelvic floor disorder is diagnosed, your gynecologist may be able to perform surgery to treat urinary incontinence.

Menopause Management

You shouldn’t stop going to see your gynecologist because you’ve stopped menstruating and are in the menopausal period. In fact, seeing your gynecologist for menopausal care can be extremely beneficial. Many gynecologists are well-versed in menopause management through hormone replacement therapy, other medications, and lifestyle changes.

If you have health concerns and are wondering when to go to the gynecologist, Kernodle OB/GYN can help. Our experienced physicians and staff provide patients with compassionate and comprehensive gynecological and obstetric care. Call us at (336) 538-2367 to make an appointment.

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