You’re a grown-ass woman, so you’re generally pretty good about scheduling your yearly gyno appointments and staying on top of your health. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for improvement. Here, eight things your gynecologist would really (really) like you to stop doing.
1. Buying products that you don’t need
“Stop using feminine hygiene cleansing products,” says Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, an obstetrician-gynecologist in California. “Your vagina has a delicate mucous membrane with a perfect microbial balance, and when you disturb that, you increase the risk of infections.” You heard the doctor—keep that special soap away.
2. Avoiding sex before the day of ovulation or insemination
Trying to conceive? Don’t hold off having intercourse until the big day (whether that’s the day you’re ovulating or the day of insemination for those couples going through fertility treatment). “Studies show that frequent ejaculation leads to better quality sperm, and that means a healthier pregnancy,” reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh tells us. “I advocate for frequent ejaculation for heterosexual couples trying to conceive in order to make sure that they’re ‘cleaning out the pipes’ every few days.” Duly noted.
This one’s a huge no-no, says Dr. Jessica Shepherd , OB/GYN and women's health expert. “Do not treat your vagina that way—let it do its natural thing.” Yep, unless there’s an underlying medical or health issue that needs to be addressed, your vagina does an excellent job of keeping pH levels balanced and cleansing itself. It’s basically the bodily equivalent your self-cleaning oven.
4. Saving all of your concerns for your annual visit
“Stop waiting for your annual visit to tell me that you hate your birth control or that the remedy we discussed at your last visit didn’t work or that you’ve been ignoring some other health concern or symptom all year,” says Dr. Gilberg-Lenz. Like all good relationships, communication with your gyno is key. “Don’t sit on stuff that is worrying you, even if it seems minor.” Especially when it comes to pain or discomfort—make a call or an appointment while it’s happening, she advises.
5. Pulling out (because… come on)
Sorry, but you really cannot (and should not) use the “pull out method” for birth control. “Pre-ejaculate fluid may contain sperm cells that can cause pregnancy, and it may also contain organisms that cause sexually transmitted infections,” Dr. Shepherd tells us. (But you knew that one already, right?)
6. Worrying about your unshaved legs
Trust—your doctor definitely, genuinely does not care.
7. Being too embarrassed to speak up
Look, we get it—talking about your sex life or bodily fluids can be awkward. But this is definitely the time to bring up any issues (however cringe-worthy it feels to say them out loud). “Don’t be afraid to talk about pain or discomfort during sex and leaking urine—these are probably the top two hidden concerns that I encounter,” Dr Gilberg-Lenz reveals. Why bother? Because your gyno can help. “If the response is ever ‘there’s nothing I can do,’ then look elsewhere,” she cautions. Find a provider here.
8. Canceling because it’s your time of the month
“Most times, the amount of blood cannot hinder the cells collected on a Pap smear,” Dr. Shepherd explains. If bleeding is very heavy, then it could be an issue but don’t just automatically cancel your appointment because Aunt Flo is in town. Give your practice a call first to explain the situation, and then take it from there.