FAQ’s related to Gynaecology and Obstetrics
- When should I have my first gynaecology examination?
Ans. Unless you have symptoms suggestive of a gynaecology problem, you should have your first pelvic exam at the age of 21 years, or sooner if you are sexually active.
- What is a Pap smear? When should I have it?
Ans. A Pap smear is a test done to detect cervical cancer or its precursors. It is an OPD procedure where cells are taken from the cervix and examined for abnormality. Women should start having Pap smears after they become sexually active and thereafter, regular Pap smears every 2 years.
- Does an abnormal Pap smear mean cancer?
Ans. No. A Pap smear is only a screening test for detection of cancer. While some pap smears may indicate cancer, sometimes, bacterial or fungal infections or inflammation may result in an abnormal Pap smear. Always follow up with your gynaecologist when you get an abnormal Pap smear.
- Till when do I need to get Pap smears?
Ans. Pap smears should be done every 2 years until the age of 70-75 years. Even after menopause, or after a hysterectomy, smears should be done regularly as cervical cancer can develop after menopause/hysterectomy also.
- Can I have a Pap smear if I am having my period?
Ans. If possible, postpone your appointment for the Pap smear until after your period. Blood from the period may alter the results. However, if that is not possible, you may have the smear provided the flow is not too heavy.
- What is the HPV vaccine? Do I need it?
Ans. HPV vaccine has been developed to prevent cervical cancer in women. It is recommended for women in the age group of 9-26 years, preferably before women become sexually active. It is not recommended to be given during pregnancy. It reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer by 70%. However, regular screening by pap smears is still recommended.
- What gynaecology tests do I need?
Ans. Regular Pap smears to detect cervical cancer, mammograms to detect breast cancer and bone density tests should be done in all peri-menopausal and menopausal women. Consult with your gynaecologist for any other additional tests you may need.
- What is a mammogram? When should I get it?
Ans. A mammogram is a radio-logical investigation of the breast to detect any breast cancer. Women over 50 years of age should have a mammogram every one or two years. However, the chances of breast cancer are more in women who have early periods, or late menopause, or a strong family history of breast cancer. Consult your gynaecologist for the frequency with which you should have a mammogram.
- How much calcium do I need?
Ans. Women under the age of 50 years need 1000 mgs of calcium a day. After menopause, the amount goes up to 1200 mgs. The best way to get calcium is through food but after 50 years of age, supplementation is also needed.
- I have vaginal discharge. What should I do?
Ans. Contact our office and make an appointment to see our consultant. Vaginal discharge may be due to a bacterial or fungal infection, or it may signal something more serious like a cancer.
- I am menopausal but have recently developed spotting/staining. What should I do?
Ans. Contact our office and make an appointment to see our consultant at the earliest. Spotting post menopause may be a sign of uterine/cervical/vaginal cancer.
- How safe are birth control pills?
Ans. Birth control pills or OCPs are the safest method of contraception in the market, if used correctly. There are no serious side effects associated with the used of OCPs. For nulliparous women (women who do not have children), OCPs are the best alternative.
- What happens if I miss taking my pills on one or more days?
Ans. If you miss your pill on one day, you can take two pills on the next day. If you miss taking you pills on two days, you can take two pills each on the next two days. However, if you miss more days than that, consult our specialist regarding your options and use another method of contraception simultaneously for that cycle.
- I am not getting pregnant. What should I do?
Ans. If you are having regular, unprotected sex for more than one year and still not conceiving, schedule an appointment to see our consultant. Both your husband and you will have to undergo testing to detect the problem and we will advise you based on your test results.
- When should I schedule my first antenatal appointment?
Ans. If you have missed your periods and tested positive for pregnancy on any home pregnancy kit, call our office to schedule an appointment. If you have not tested yourself after missing your period, schedule your appointment so that we can test for pregnancy for you and give you the good news and run some other tests to establish baseline levels to monitor as your pregnancy advances.
- What foods should I avoid during pregnancy?
Ans. The only food you need to avoid during pregnancy is papaya and pineapple. Under-cooked meat and fish, alcohol and oily foods are not to be consumed.
- Can I exercise during pregnancy?
Ans. Yes. It is safe to exercise in moderation during pregnancy. In fact, it is recommended to be as physically active as possible throughout your pregnancy unless you are specifically advised against it by your gynaecologist. Some exercises also help with childbirth. Contact our specialist for further details about these.
- Can I have sex in pregnancy?
Ans. Yes. Unless you have a high risk pregnancy and have been advised by your gynaecologist not to, your partner and you can have intercourse throughout the duration of your pregnancy without harming your baby.
- Can I travel while I am pregnant?
Ans. It is safe to travel till about 35 weeks of gestation. However, air travel beyond 32 weeks is not recommended. If you need to travel beyond that, check with your gynaecologist. To prevent blood clots, walk around and stretch your legs on the flight.
- Can I take medicines during pregnancy?
Ans. Please check with your gynaecologist about the medication that is safe to be taken during pregnancy. Do not self-medicate during your pregnancy as some over the counter drugs are harmful for the develop foetus.
- I am pregnant and spotting. What should I do?
Ans. Call our office and schedule an appointment to see our specialist at the earliest. While in most cases, it may be something insignificant, it may also indicate a threatened or missed abortion.
- I am having repeated miscarriages. What is the reason?
Ans. There are multiple reasons for you to have repeated miscarriages. Schedule an appointment with our specialist so that we can run some tests to detect the reasons.