We know: Your gyno gets you. But some symptoms require outside help
She knows the things you tell only your mates – and some stuff you’ve never even shared with them (um, that STI you got last year). And unlike your besties – or even some boyfriends – your gyno’s seen you naked under harsh fluorescent light. It’s no wonder that you two share an intimate bond and when it comes to anything medical, she’s your ideal first call.
In fact, she may be all her patients’ ideal first call: nine in 10 women aged 18 to 44 want the option of having an obgyn as their main doctor, according to a recent survey.* 70 per cent of women say they’re more likely to be ‘open and honest’ with ladypart docs than with their GPs (because, really, why hold back when you’re already stripped down and spreadeagle?).
Part of this stems from sheer frequency. Many women in their twenties see gynos more than any other doctor, for birth control, STI testing, and Pap smears. And if they’re strapped for time or have skyhigh insurance deductibles, they may try to pack as much into one visit as they can (e.g., asking a gyno about all sorts of nonvagrelated issues). In some rural communities, a gynaecologist may literally be the only doctor available, through free clinics and Family Planning Australia.
‘We tend to be the sole healthcare provider for young, healthy women,’ confirms gynaecologist Dale Bearman. And that’s cool... well, most of the time.
While gynos are typically happy to stray a bit outside their medical specialty, there are some things their training just doesn’t cover. Follow our handy guide to what they can and can’t treat.
Gynos can handle UTIs, strep throat, and sinus infections and other upperrespiratory problems. ‘We are able to prescribe medication for these uncomplicated conditions,’ says Dr Bearman.
BASIC MENTAL HEALTH
They are trained to screen for postpartum depression, but many obgyns are also versed in issues like mood disorders and domestic violence. ‘We vary in what we feel comfortable with,’ says obgyn Dr Tamika Auguste, ‘but we often discuss things like stress and depression with our patients’. If a case seems serious, Dr Auguste will refer to a specialist.
‘We can determine if a patient needs to see a neurologist,’ says Dr Bearman. ‘Migraines are often menstrualrelated, and we can treat them with birthcontrol pills.’
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT, SMOKING, AND DRUG USE
Gynos often provide tips on healthy behaviours or recommend addiction treatments. ‘Patients are sometimes surprised when they come in for a breast exam and I start asking them how much they smoke,’ says obgyn Dr Raegan McDonaldMosley. ‘But we may be the only one who sees a young woman in a given year, so we try to address her health needs holistically.’
CHRONIC CONDITIONS Reproductive disorders aside, you’ll want a specialist for longterm issues like allergies or irritable bowel syndrome. If you feel something brewing, your GP can screen you and suggest the right doctor.
GENERAL DISEASE PREVENTION Most major diseases – aside from gynaecological cancers – are out of gynos’ expertise. To prevent diabetes, heart disease and more, you’re better off seeing a GP at least every few years in your twenties. ‘We really focus on catching a broad range of diseases at an early stage,’ says Dr Sharon H. Bergquist.
For shortness of breath, heart palpitations and major allergic reactions, don’t wait for a callback from any doctor’s office. Get to the hospital, stat!
TIME TO STEP AWAY FROM THE STIRRUPS?