Gynaecologists are doctors who specialise in women's health, mainly focusing on the female's reproductive system. Gynaecologists deal with a variety of issues in a women's reproductive system such as puberty, menstrual disorders,fertility issues, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hormone disorders, fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menopause, etc.
When is it necessary to see a gynaecologist?
You may visit the gynaecologist anytime you have female reproductive system concerns. These can be pelvic, vulvar or vaginal pains, abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, etc. It is recommended that all sexually active women go for an annual pap smear. If a pap smear is done and the virus that causes cancer of the cervix called HPV is found to be absent, then you are at low risk for cervical cancer and can have your pap smear repeated in 3-5year intervals.
At what age can I visit a gynaecologist?
A gynaecologist treats both girls and women at any age. It is therefore recommended that females start visiting a gynaecologist from the age of 13 years if there are any issues with their menstruation or may have severe acne. Having a relationship with the gynaecologist enables a girl or woman to be comfortable enough to ask questions regarding menstruation, sexuality and anything that has to do with a woman's body. It also enables the gynae a chance to guide the woman or girl's overall welfare in the future, through counselling with regards to important health and lifestyle issues. Dr Diale recommends that women from the age 21 should visit the gynaecologist for a pap smear and other screening, whether or not they are sexually active.
What can be expected during my Gynae visit?
What happens during your gynaecological visit depends entirely on the reason for the visit and your individual situation. If it is your first visit, Dr Diale will make you feel comfortable and ask routine questions with regards to your menstrual cycle, your sexual activity and general medical history, to aid her to assess your health and lifestyle.
Dr Diale will proceed with a general check-up where she will check your heart, lungs, chest and thyroid gland and perform blood pressure and urine tests. And yes, Dr Diale will have to look "down there" also to check and examine if your reproductive organs are healthy. She may have to insert a surgical tool called a speculum, into your vagina to check your cervix and make sure that the uterus and ovaries are of good health.
Dr Diale will talk you through the entire examination and make sure that you are at ease and comfortable. You may have a pap smear done. Pap smear is generally a procedure that is done to take a swab or sample of your cervix cells from your cervix area to be tested for any abnormalities in your cervix. A pelvic ultrasound is done to get images and assessment of your womb and ovaries.
What happens after the consultation?
Dr Diale may schedule an appointment, or a follow up to let you know of the pap smear test results and any other results for other tests that could have been done. She may prescribe medication for you, depending on what the results reveal.
What are the common procedures that gynaecologists can perform?
Certified gynaecologists are trained to perform certain diagnostic and surgical procedures.
Diagnostic methods include:
- Pap smear tests
- Ultrasound scanning
- A microscopic examination of the cervix called a colposcopy
- Take samples from the lining of the uterus, also known as endometrial biopsy
- Use an endoscope to view inside the uterus, through a procedure called hysteroscopy
Surgical methods and procedures include:
Laparoscopy - An abdominal keyhole procedure called a laparoscopy for both diagnostic and surgical purposes.
- Minor Laparoscopic Procedures: Removal of cysts, testing of fallopian tube patency (chromopertubation), sterilization, etc.
- Major Procedures: Removal of endometriosis, removal of fibroids (myomectomy), Removal of womb (Hysterectomy).
Hysteroscopy – A vaginal procedure performed with an endoscope camera and instruments through the vagina to diagnose and treat intrauterine abnormalities.
- Minor Hysteroscopic Procedures: Polypectomy, removal of IU, etc.
- Major Hysteroscopic Procedures: Removal of fibroids (myomectomy), resection of intrauterine septum, Resection of adhesions (adhesiolysis), etc.
A transvaginal ultrasound is not usually painful but can be uncomfortable for some women. Because the vagina is surrounded by muscles, relaxing during the process makes it less uncomfortable.
A pelvic exam typically takes a few minutes to complete, depending on whether or not Dr Diale identifies anything unusual.
A pap smear is generally not a painful procedure. There is no cutting or pinching involved. For some women, a pap smear can hurt slightly. Usually, however, the procedure is mildly uncomfortable.