A trip to the gynaecologist can strike fear into the heart of even the most confident woman.
It can be a little bit anxiety-inducing to think about what’s going on down there and whether you need to seek help.
Luckily, Mamamia spoke to Dr. Joseph Sgroi, a Melbourne based obstetrician, fertility specialist and gynaecologist about what women most commonly see their gynaecologist for and what to expect during your appointment.
“We’ve seen it all before,” Dr Sgroi said. “We’re medical professionals and there’s nothing that you’re going to say that’s going to shock us.”
What do women go to the gynaecologist for?
"A lot of women come to me when they're experiencing vaginal discharge, itchiness, a rash or even discolouration of the vagina, which can be a symptom of an underlying dermatological condition," he said.
"After women have a pap smear, they might need their gynaecologist to perform a colposcopy - a microscope examination of the cervix to determine whether there are any pre-cancerous cells within the cervix."
In regards to the uterus, women should see their gyno if they're experiencing heavy bleeding, pain with sex or pain while passing a bowel movement.
While women who have cysts on their ovaries or suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) will also seek treatment from a gynaecologist.
What do women often think is normal - but could be cause for concern? And vice versa?
Dr Sgroi says the most important step women can take is seeing their gyno if they are worried about any symptoms they're experiencing.
While some period pain is normal - Dr Sgroi says it's not normal to have to take time of work due to period pain.
"Some women dismiss how much pain affects their quality of life," he explains. "Having to spend a day off work because of period pain is not normal."
"Not only does this impact on their quality of life but it also affects their relationships with their partner and the people they work with."
The gynaecologist says pain during sex is also something that women should not just put up with.
"Sex shouldn't be uncomfortable and it should be enjoyable," he says.
"Pain at the front of the vagina could be a sign of overactive muscles, while deep pain could be related to endometriosis."
Mia Freedman has a Mirena and she wants to tell us all about it. Post continues...
And if you experience bleeding after sex, Dr Sgroi recommends seeing a gyno ASAP as it could be symptom of pre-cancerous cells on the cervix.
As for vaginal discharge - sometimes it's normal and sometimes it can be a symptom of an underlying sexually transmitted infection.
"That's why it's important to talk to someone and get some swabs done," he explains. "So you'll know either way."
What if I'm nervous?
Dr Sgroi says there's no need to be anxious or nervous about your appointment. Most gynaecologists will have a midwife or a nurse in the room who will hold your hand, and the gynaecologist will go slowly and be respectful throughout the procedure.
"We're aware that women might be experiencing some pain and anxiety," he says. "And we don't want to make that any worse."
Do I need to shave or shower before my appointment?
Most importantly, Dr Sgroi says you don't need to do any special preparation before your gyno appointment. There's no need to shave your pubic hair or shower immediately before your appointment.
"Just come in your natural state," he says. "We're not here to judge people and we've seen it all before."