We’re not saying we’re getting any older, but even if we’re not, a number of women on our team are finished having babies, so we were wondering: What now? When it comes to the gynecologist, periods, hormone changes, and long-term contraception – what do we need to know? We teamed up with the experts at Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates to get the answers to some of our questions.
If I’m not having any more babies and I’m healthy, do I still need a gynecologist?
Every woman should still see their gynecologist annually, even if they’re healthy. While some women may only require a pap smear every 2 to 3 years, others are recommended to have the test once every year. Every woman should have a pelvic exam and a breast exam annually, in addition to performing self-exams every month.While your primary care provider can certainly provide those things, it’s gynecologists who have specialized training that allows them to deal with anything abnormal that may arise and can even provide additional testing in-office. Read more about this procedure HERE.
Do I have to keep my periods? (You know since I don’t need them anymore.)
Not necessarily. There are a number of options to help alleviate period symptoms or even stop your period altogether:
- Birth Control Pills: The options are numerous and no one-size fits all. Our team are experts in providing available options and helping you decide what’s best for you.
- Intrauterine Devices: An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy that can remain in place and function effectively for many years. When a mom no longer wants or needs and IUD we can remove or replace it right in the office.
- Endometrial Ablation: This procedure destroys the lining of the uterus for the purpose of lessening flow and should be reserved for very heavy or very long cycles. Once we understand your specific concerns and the health of your uterus, we can determine if an ablation makes sense for you. Some ablations can be performed right in the office. Read more about this procedure HERE.
Couldn’t I just have a hysterectomy?
Nope. A hysterectomy is a major surgery and is reserved as a treatment option only when others have failed.
What about long-term contraception? What are the best and safest choices?
Lots of moms who know they aren’t looking to get pregnant again for a long while choose Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC for short). In most cases, moms will choose an intrauterine device (IUD) with hormones or without. There also is a small implant (the size of a matchstick), the Nexplanon, that can be placed under the skin in the upper arm. All of these are safe and can be as reliable as a tubal ligation. Any of these options should be discussed at length with your physician. Read more about these options HERE.
If you’re looking for permanent birth control, you might consider a minimally invasive procedure like Essure. This is something that can be done right in the office. Essure® uses a tiny coil mechanism that the doctor inserts it through the cervix and uterus into the fallopian tubes. The coil causes scar tissue to develop in the tubes, sealing them shut. Read more about this procedure HERE.
What sort of hormone changes are normal? When should we be concerned?
After having children, women will certainly experience changes in their hormones; some are good and some are frustrating.
- While it’s reasonable to expect that your cycle would take some time to regulate itself, or that it would change altogether, if the symptoms are unmanageable (excessive bleeding or pain that can’t be managed with an over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol) then it’s something we’d love to chat about.
- Other things like the health of your skin, your weight, your sleep, and your mood may all change as well. We often hear from patients who think it’s “normal” to feel angry or restless all the time, that it’s “normal” to struggle with anxiety or depression after babies, or that it’s “normal” to add pounds and not be able to get them off with healthy diet and exercise. While any of these symptoms individually or on a short-term basis could be nothing to worry about, we’d love to talk to you about what you’re experiencing and see what we can do to help. Healthy moms mean healthy families, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Bottom line: Every woman is different, so it’s best to have a trusted expert to help you manage this next season. Let’s chat.
If you’re asking these questions (or others) about this next season, Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates would love to help!
Special thanks to Dr. Ian Foley for his expert input on this post.