Regardless of where you grew up, you definitely sat through a Human Sexuality class in middle school. You labeled the diagrams of the reproductive organs. You giggled. You blushed.
But did you actually learn anything? That’s up for debate.
Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones of Novant Health Mintview OB/GYN shares six things that she that she wishes Charlotte women knew about birth control and their health. Below are her responses.
(1) Your birth control can mess with you.
Universally, the most common and easiest form of birth control that women use is probably the birth control pill.
We know more about it than nearly any other medicine on the market. It’s safe and effective.
But there is often not a discussion about how the birth control pill can affect your sexual functioning. You need to be on the lookout for that. In some women it can cause painful intercourse, low libido, and mood issues. I don’t think that’s talked about universally.
(2) Herpes is more common than you might think.
As far as STDs go, I’ve probably seen more herpes than I’ve seen anything else.
If you go to the health department they’ll talk about gonorrhea and chlamydia being on the rise. I don’t see as much of that, and we definitely screen for that.
(3) No, your doctor isn’t judging you when you’re getting an exam.
I do not say anything about their hair. That’s preference to me. I usually ask about partners. Current partner, how is your sex life?
But the concept of judging is unfortunate, because it makes patients maybe not tell us what we really need to hear.
I really wish I could reassure women that, you know, we’re human beings too. We’re not judging, we’re trying to take care of you.
(4) Many women don’t know their own anatomy.
Patients will refer to their vagina and they really mean their vulva. They don’t know their own anatomy. I did a TedX talk about that. How we don’t even know the names of our body parts, but we nickname them very freely. We say “hoo ha.” What is a “hoo ha”?
Most women also don’t know their clitoris is actually about 18 centimeters long. We didn’t discover that until the last 20 years, which is crazy. It’s like a wishbone that goes all the way back to the bones that we sit on.
(5) Besides STDs, there are a few diseases you need to be aware of if you’re of reproductive age.
We’re seeing a ton of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and that’s because, I think, we have a diet that’s rich in carbohydrates from a really early age now.
There’s a genetic component to that, but I really feel like young people are being exposed to different diets way earlier. I think PCOS is one, and then endometriosis is underdiagnosed and untreated too.
PCOS can cause weight gain, hairiness, irregular periods, and infertility. With endometriosis, you get pain with your period, pain with intercourse, and pelvic pain outside of your normal menstrual cycle.
(6) There are some steps you should take before you’re ready to try to get pregnant.
Have a preconception visit three months before you’re trying to get pregnant.
We review family history, we look and make sure your immunizations are up-to-date, and we look at blood work to make sure your vitamin D levels are good.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant within the next year, then I think that visit could happen any time.
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