Every woman should have an annual wellness visit. These appointments provide essential preventive care, from physical exams to screenings, to help you maintain your best health.
But along with routine well-woman exams, you should stay in tune with your health throughout the year.
Your body and your vagina go through numerous changes over the course of your lifetime, and while many of these changes are completely normal, some might indicate underlying health issues that require professional attention.
Michael Coppa, MD, and our team specialize in gynecology, and we strive to create an environment where you feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly. Here are five vaginal changes that you should never ignore:
1. Unusual discharge
Vaginal discharge is a normal part of your body's self-cleaning process. Healthy discharge is typically clear or white, and consistency changes throughout your menstrual cycle.
But certain changes in color, consistency, or odor could be indicative of an infection or other health issue. Watch for discharge that is:
- Green or yellow
- Accompanied by itching, burning, or discomfort
If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a gynecologist appointment. We can help determine if these changes are due to an infection, a hormonal imbalance, or another underlying cause.
2. Vaginal itching or irritation
Persistent itching, burning, or irritation isn’t just uncomfortable — these symptoms could also indicate an underlying condition that needs treatment. A few possible causes include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
If you have any of these symptoms, we recommend making a doctor’s appointment for a full assessment. Over-the-counter treatments don’t always address the underlying issue, and self-diagnosis can just prolong your discomfort.
3. Changes in your menstrual cycle
It’s normal for your menstrual cycle to vary slightly from month to month. But if you notice significant changes, like irregular periods, heavy bleeding, or missed periods, bring it up with Dr. Coppa.
These changes could be linked to hormonal imbalances, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid issues, or even pregnancy. A thorough evaluation helps identify the cause and ensure your reproductive health is on track.
4. Painful intercourse
Pain during or after sex isn’t normal. The medical term is dyspareunia, and it can be the result of a variety of factors, including infections, vaginal dryness, endometriosis, menopause, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or even psychological factors.
Don’t try to endure painful intercourse. We’re here to help you find a resolution. We diagnose your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatments to improve your sexual health and quality of life.
5. Vaginal prolapse
Vaginal prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues that support your pelvic organs weaken. This muscle weakness causes organs like the bladder, uterus, or rectum to drop or protrude into your vaginal canal.
Common symptoms of prolapse are discomfort, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence. If you notice a bulging sensation, pressure, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, discuss these symptoms with Dr. Coppa to get a proper diagnosis to relieve your symptoms.
Why go to the gynecologist?
Discussing your reproductive health can be embarrassing, and it’s tempting to try to self-diagnose your symptoms without talking to a doctor. But while the internet provides a wealth of information, remember that every woman's body is unique.
Self-diagnosing based on online resources can lead to misinformation and unnecessary worry. Dr. Coppa and our team have the expertise to accurately assess your symptoms, perform necessary tests, and provide personalized guidance tailored to your health needs.
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to discuss vaginal changes with a gynecologist. In fact, doing so is the best way to make sure you receive timely and appropriate care.
Learn more about caring for your reproductive health by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Coppa. Call our offices in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island, or request an appointment online now.