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Gynecology: 12 Women’s Health Myths and Facts

Every woman deserves to know the truth about her healthcare. While the internet can be a source of knowledge, it can also be a source of misguided information doing more damage than good. 

In this article, we debunk 12 common misconceptions and myths surrounding women’s health, so you can start taking control of your health.

Myth #1: It is Not Necessary to Go to the Gynecologist Every Year

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One of the leading women’s health myths is that you do not need to see an OB-GYN annually; this is not true! You may not need a pap smear every year, but your OB-GYN will perform a breast and pelvic exam. Even if you don’t notice any symptoms or women’s health issues, your gynecologist will test everything from blood pressure to osteoporosis, and your yearly visit is a great opportunity to discuss any concerns you have about your body, including your sexual and reproductive health. 

Moreland OB-GYN offers preventative health care, pregnancy planning, and more! Schedule an appointment today to talk with one of our trusting providers and get more facts about women’s health. 


Myth #2: It’s Probably Just a Yeast Infection

Many different health concerns can cause vaginitis, including infections and dermatological disorders. Bacterial vaginosis, yeast and other vaginal infections, and trichomoniasis have very similar symptoms but have different treatments. Dermatological conditions can also affect the vulva or vagina, including contact dermatitis, Lichen Sclerosus, and Lichen Planus. 

Self-diagnosing and self-treating can make your symptoms worse or last longer than they need to. If you are experiencing symptoms like itching, burning, abnormal discharge, or pain and discomfort, schedule a visit with your gynecologist and get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Learn more about the different types of vulva and vaginal problems and the symptoms they may present.

Myth #3: You Should be Getting a Pap Smear Every Year 

A pap smear exam is a screening that can detect cervical cancer. It was standard to give women 21 years or older a pap smear every year in the past. However, guidelines have changed and you may be able to go longer between pap smears based on your health history. It is important to come to appointments every year to make sure that you are up to date on your screenings. 

Your health history also determines how often you should get a pap smear. If you have HPV, have a weakened immune system, or are HIV-positive, your doctor may increase the frequency of pap smear exams. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your body. 

To learn more about screening for cervical cancer, read our helpful information page.

Myth #4: Pap Smears Also Test for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs)

Not all gynecologists will test for STIs while performing a routine pap smear, so it’s important to be open and honest about your sexual activity and history. 

Make sure to ask any questions or talk about your concerns regarding STIs, and remember not all STIs will present symptoms. If you have multiple sex partners and are experiencing symptoms like odor, abnormal discharge, or itching, it’s crucial to speak up and ask to be tested.

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Myth #5: If I Don't Have Any Symptoms, I Must Not Have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

STIs like gonorrhea and HPV can often be present with no physical warning signs or symptoms. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs among women under the age of 25, and it is often referred to as the “silent infection” because up to three in four women will never show any symptoms. Even genital herpes can be present but lay dormant until an outbreak occurs. It’s important to get tested if you are sexually active or have multiple sex partners (even if you show no symptoms).

Myth #6: You Must be 21 Years Old to Begin Seeing An OB-GYN

Web page Images (3)Some facts about women’s health may surprise you! Including the myth that only adults should see a gynecologist. Girls as young as 13 can start seeing and developing a trusting relationship with a gynecologist. While a pap smear or pelvic exam may not be conducted for younger patients, a gynecologist can perform routine health screenings and educate young women on menstrual cycles, sexually transmitted diseases, sexuality, safe sex, and pregnancy prevention.

Myth #7: If You Are on Your Period, You Have to Cancel Your Gynecologist Appointment

Another leading women’s health myth: you can’t see your doctor if you are menstruating. But don’t fret! You do not have to automatically cancel your appointment if you are on your period. Keeping your appointment will depend on a few factors, including your comfort level, why you are seeing your gynecologist, and how heavy bleeding is at the time of the appointment.  

The best approach is to call your doctor’s office to discuss your options and decide together if you should keep or cancel your appointment. 

Myth #8: IUDs are Dangerous

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, t-shaped device inserted into the uterus to provide birth control. Modern IUDs have a low complication rate and a high satisfactory rate. 

There are some risks and concerns associated with IUDs, just like there are risks and concerns with all medications and devices. Still, there have been no recent FDA warnings or new data suggesting IUDs are dangerous or defective. 

Moreland OB-GYN offers a wide variety of contraceptives. Learn about your options here!

Myth #9: Breast Cancer Doesn’t Run in My Family so I’m Safe

Any woman is at risk of developing breast cancer, even if she does not have a family history. It’s strongly recommended women 40 and older get yearly mammograms. 

Finding breast cancer at an early stage reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25% - 30%. If you have a family history and are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, your doctor may start these screenings earlier.

Myth #10: You Lose Interest in Sex as You Age

Midlife couple cuddling on couchIt’s common for women to experience a loss of interest in sex, although it does not necessarily have to do with age. 

A lack of libido, also known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), can affect any woman of any age and result from many different causes, including:

  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Sociocultural influences and pressure
  • Illnesses like hypothyroid disorder or endometriosis 
  • Medications 

There is no “normal” amount of sex you should be having, everyone is different, and if you are happy with your sex life, there is no problem. Although, if the decrease in your libido starts to impact your life and causes distress, it’s important to talk to your gynecologist. You and your doctor can work together to find the underlying cause and create a plan to help boost your desire.

Myth #11: Douching Cleans the Vagina 

While douching may seem like a good idea to eliminate vaginal odor, it's doing more harm than good. 

Your vagina has a natural balance of good and bad bacteria. Douching disrupts this balance and messes with the natural acidity of a healthy vagina, allowing for an overgrowth of yeast and harmful bacteria. It can even push the bad bacteria up into your reproductive organs and eventually result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. 

The vagina is a "self-cleaning" oven, and it's best to leave it alone and let it do its job. To practice safe hygiene, wash the outside of your vagina with lukewarm water. If you notice any odor or discomfort, schedule a visit with your gynecologist. 

Learn more about safe personal hygiene practices!

Myth #12: If You Have HPV, You Will Get Cervical Cancer

HPV is indeed present in nearly every case of cervical cancer, although this does not mean you will get cervical cancer if you have HPV. 

In fact, many women will be exposed to HPV at some point in their life, but only a small percentage will develop cervical cancer. Pap smear tests and pelvic exams are important because they help detect these changes from the HPV virus early when treatment is very effective. If these changes are left untreated, these abnormal cells can eventually turn into cervical cancer. 

The key to preventing cervical cancer is early detection. Take a look here to learn more about cervical cancer screenings. 

Your annual OBGYN visit should provide a safe environment where you feel comfortable discussing any concerns or asking even what may seem like the most embarrassing questions. 

Moreland OBGYN has caring providers who will take the time to listen and develop a strong and lasting relationship, making sure you are living your best and most healthy life. Schedule a visit today!

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