Women’s reproductive health

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When I got medical insurance, I decided to check on my reproductive health.

I am a former refugee who came about 6 years ago to the USA with my family. After getting my medical insurance, and finishing all required medical papers that included TB tests and some vaccines to apply for my Green Card, I decided it was time to check my women’s reproductive health.

I didn’t speak English very well at that time so I asked my family doctor to make me a referral to a gynecologist who can speak my language. (Americans often spell out the letters “OB-GYN” instead of saying gynecologist. It is the same kind of doctor.) They found me one, and I got the referral and made an appointment for a well-woman checkup. The gynecologist spoke in four languages, which can serve many patients who speak these languages and are not perfect in English.

My first day there was a little long. It was so crowded and I arrived early to fill some of the papers that all doctors need before seeing their new patients.

When it was my turn to get in, they asked me many questions regarding my reproductive health, such as:

  • How old are you?
  • Do you have any illness?
  • Tell me about your family’s medical history.
  • Do you plan to be pregnant?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Are you on any medicine?  
  • When was your last menstrual period?
  • How long it is usually?
  • Are you married or not?
  • Do you have children or not?
  • How many children do you have?
  • How old are they?
  • Did you do any kind of surgery before?
  • Do use any birth control? 
  • How many times you usually have sexual relations?
  • Do you have any illnesses?
  • When was your last women’s reproductive health check?  
  • Do you smoke or drink alcohol?

I answered all the questions, and then the physician assistant did some wellness tests for me, and the doctor checked my IUD.

You may ask why you need to go to this doctor.

It is a kind of preventive care, to stop illnesses before they get to be dangerous to your health.

During this visit, women are able to talk to their gynecologist about birth control, or STD test. Women under 18 years old can go and get HPV vaccine. Usually, women who are about age 21 need to do pelvic exams, Pap tests, and breast exams. And as women get older in age, there are more tests and exams that may be applied regularly such as mammograms. Then later, when you are over a certain age, you do not need all the tests so often.

Some tests results take a few days, and some can be done at the same day. Ultrasound is a very important machine that most of gynecologists use to look at body organs or tissues, identify pregnancy, and check if there is any illness. It depends on the situation, but it  is usually used for the pregnant women to check for the embryo, the sex of it, the expected date of birth, and to make sure everything is going right.

Most of my visits were to check my IUD, which I used as birth control. My last visit was to remove it. And I am planning to make an appointment with my gynecologist this year for the annual exam, which is the well-women checkup that I explained to you above.

I will go just to do some tests and make sure that I am well.

Here are some useful things to remember:

  • It is very important to speak to your gynecologist if you have any concerns.
  • If you are not able to go to a male doctor because of shyness, religion, or cultural issues, ask your family doctor to give you a referral to a female gynecologist.
  • Make sure that they will provide you with an interpreter if you don’t speak the doctor’s language. It is your right.
  • Always give clear and honest information to help the doctor find out if there is a serious issue you are suffering from.
  • Remember that you are free to change your gynecologist any time you like if you don’t feel comfortable.

A healthy life means a happy life, so stay healthy!

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.