Top 6 Questions To Ask Your Ob/Gyn

The average doctor’s visit is about 15 minutes. In that amount of time, it’s nearly impossible to address all of your health concerns!  Going in with a plan and with a list of questions can help you get the most out of your next visit.  

1. Are there any tests I should have?  

This question prompts your doc to look at any past labs and also helps them quickly think about your current situation and any diagnostics that are appropriate.  If you have specific tests in mind, list them out and ask about them specifically. 

 2. Is there anything I can do to manage “XYZ” about my menstrual cycle, if you still have a cycle?   

If you are concerned about your cycle, the amount of flow, pain, PMS, or any other symptoms associated with menstruation, ask!   

 3. I’m experiencing some discharge/odor/itching/discomfort… is this normal?   

It may feel awkward, but you need to know that your doc has heard and seen it all.  If you’re concerned about your vagina, you should discuss this with your OB/GYN.    

4. What are my options for birth control, if you are still menstruating?  

Birth control options can be confusing! Your doctor will help you determine the method that is a good match.  

5. My sex drive is low. What can I do about it?  

Libido issues can result from a variety of factors.  If your sex drive or issues with sex are impacting your life… talk about it! Your doctor will help you get to the bottom of it so you can get back to a more comfortable place.    

6. I no longer have a menstrual cycle and am in menopause. When it comes to sex, it feels uncomfortable because it’s very dry down there. What can I do to fix this?  

If you have not had a period for 12 months, you are in menopause and the drop in estrogen and progesterone hormones can cause vaginal dryness. There are natural options such as dietary adjustments. Keeping your blood sugar low, taking probiotics, vitamin D3, the herbs black cohosh, dong quoi and red clover are also effective.  

If considering any herbs, speak with your doctor and also a reputable herbalist. Herbs can have interactions with certain medications so always check with your doctor first and do your due diligence. Organic virgin coconut oil is a natural lubricant that helps with dryness. There are drug store lubricants but I recommend getting to the root of the issue and possibly doing a hormone test to check what your levels are. The Dutch test is a good at home test you can order online. You can then discuss your results with your doctor or seek out a functional medical doctor who is more well versed in holistic options for a variety of conditions and situations.  

5 Signs You May Have a Hormonal Imbalance

Abnormal levels of hormones during menopause can wreak havoc and have a negative impact not only on the person suffering from such a condition, but also to the people who are near and dear.  Mood swings, are one of many symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Remember the classic old horror film, “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde?” Dr. Jekyl is a scientist who drinks one of his potions and is then transformed from neighborhood nice guy into a raging half man half beast. A beast that’ll go ape on anyone or anything in his way.

Perhaps, this describes your mood swings where one moment you feel happy and confident and the next it’s all gloom and doom. It’s important to have an understanding of the root cause of any hormonal imbalance, including what approach to take. If any unusual symptoms have lasted beyond eight weeks, it’s a good idea to seek professional help from a reliable source (typically an endocrinologist).  An endocrinologist can give you the present status of your hormone levels so you have a proper baseline of what’s going on in your body. This knowledge will enable you to explore the safest and best options to reclaim your hormonal health.  In many cases, lifestyle changes can make an incredible difference. 

#1 Consistent Weight Gain 

Are you engaged in a strict diet and exercise routine, but don’t see any positive changes? There are many possible reasons, but if you’re packing on the pounds in spite of your disciplined efforts, there’s a strong chance it could be a hormonal imbalance. Your metabolism dictates how much weight you will lose and if your hormones are out of order, it negatively impacts your metabolic furnace. During menopause, fat storage is more common, especially in the midsection, which makes this area harder to tone. Not impossible at all, but that’s another blog post where I will discuss why it’s essential for women in menopause to build muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active tissue that burns fat, gives your body shape and increases your confidence just to list a few of the many benefits.

#2 Desire to Eat More

Another sign of a hormonal imbalance is your appetite can increase. Even after a full course dinner, there’s a strong desire to raid the refrigerator in pursuit of last nights’ left overs. Pushing your plate away feels like some herculean effort. Will power? Gone.  “What’s happening to me?” you ask. During menopause, there’s an increase in the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin, and there’s a decrease of the hormone, leptin, which is responsible for the feeling of fullness after you eat. Menopause, in an odd way, is like having a second adolescence minus the pimples. In addition to persistent hunger, you may also have some unusual cravings similar to pregnancy. When I was pregnant, I craved lemons and steak. I think the pickles and ice cream idea comes from Hollywood movies. I never knew anyone that ate that during their pregnancy. The desire to eat more doesn’t describe all women who go through menopause, but it can affect a good percentage. Look for future blogs about how to balance ghrelin and leptin and get control of your appetite. 

#3 Lack of Sex Drive 

Let’s face it, sex is a normal part of an adult’s life and when you suffer from hormonal irregularities, it’s not unusual to find your mojo M.I.A. Comparing my sex drive in my twenties to my fifties, is like comparing a Porche to a Mercedez Benz. I may not be speeding down the highway at 75 miles per hour like I did as a millennial but I find a slower speed in a luxury car is equally, if not more than satisfying. It’s quality over quantity.  Regardless of whatever your partner does to ignite your fire, the answer is more complex.  Abnormal levels of estrogen, thyroid, and cortisol, which are all essential hormones in a woman’s body, can create vaginal dryness which makes sex painful. If something is painful, the tendency will be to avoid it or do less of it.  Extra weight gain from menopause can do a number on a woman’s physical image of herself. That alone can make her want to avoid nocturnal action. No matter how much your partner compliments you, it's important for you to believe it yourself.

#4 Mood Swings 

Mood swings are another strong sign something is off. Especially, if you’ve always been pretty even-tempered. One moment you feel happy and filled with gratitude and then, “Wham!” out of nowhere, sadness smacks you upside the head. Your eyes even well up with tears. The smallest things cause you to explode and you often feel irritable. You may experience that friends, family and co-workers seem to avoid you because your mood swings make them feel uncomfortable. This can lead to depression and the unnecessary over prescribing of anti-depressants that many doctors dole out to menopausal women, which is like putting a band-aid on a broken bone. It’s necessary to get to the root of the problem and dig. Many mood issues can be corrected by addressing the gut which is where the majority of serotonin lives. A majority of women I know have digestive disorders from constipation, bloating, SIBO, to IBS which affects your mental and emotional state. Changes in mood can also be the result of your monthly cycle, if you still have a cycle. Women with balanced hormones are less prone to experiencing extreme highs and lows of their emotions. Your mood swings can especially peak, if you're already in menopause.

#5 Fatigue

The last sign is daily fatigue. Even if all you did was buy groceries, check your email and binge watch your favorite Netflix series for three hours, you may feel wiped out. Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning?  Do you find yourself wanting to take a nap at least once a day? That sounds like fatigue. Cortisol is the hormone that’s released when we are under stress and if your levels are elevated that can cause tiredness. Menopause can also cause sleep disturbances because of the imbalance of cortisol. Cortisol should be elevated in the morning and low at night. If cortisol is high at night, then you’ll feel wired and energized.  Hot flashes and night sweats also negatively impact sleep making the ability to concentrate a challenge. 

If you said yes to one or more of the five signs of hormonal imbalances described above, a functional medical doctor that specializes in women’s health can be an excellent resource. Functional medicine takes the WHOLE person into consideration and the consultation is often longer compared to a regular general practitioner. You may be asked to fill out a five-day food journal, bathroom habits (Bristol Stool Chart), along with an extensive health history time line from child hood to your present age. It truly is personalized and will get to the root cause of your situation. 

As you can see, optimum health depends on advocating for yourself so you can have a life that thrives and be the vital woman you’re meant to be.