Women’s Health: Just the Facts

PALLAVI KHANNA, MD, FACOG, NCMP

Photographs courtesy of Regional One Health

Dr. Pallavi Khanna
Women have unique health care needs and issues. Sometimes we are quick to dismiss something because we don’t think it is important, or we’re simply so busy we allow it to slip into the category of “I’ll look into that later.” We have all been there. When we are busy and focused on other things, it is also very easy to accept things we’ve heard as truth. Many women go their entire lives believing myths about their health that simply are not true. When I joined Regional One Health a few years ago, I saw that there was a need for more gynecological care in our community beyond obstetrics. For example, I often see women who are menopausal, and they have been told “to just deal with it.” Society tells them their issues are normal and natural, but I can help them. It is important for women to establish a relationship with a gynecologist. Annual visits to a gynecologist are vital for all adult females to maintain their health and to separate the fact from fiction. The following are a few examples of some of the myths women believe that could affect their health.
“I often see women who are menopausal, and they have been told “to just deal with it. Society tells them their issues are normal and natural, but I can help them.”

MYTH
I don’t need a gynecologist. I’m not pregnant, so a primary care provider can meet all of my health care needs.
FACT
Maintaining a relationship with a primary care provider is important, but regularly seeing a gynecologist in addition is essential for women. Your gynecologist will address concerns a primary care provider may not. Gynecological visits are not only for pregnant women or to have tests such as pap smears. In addition to necessary screenings and providing counsel on reproduction health and plans, the gynecologist bridges the gap between the primary care experience and the patient’s personal questions in life. There are questions and concerns women have that they are often not comfortable discussing with their primary care provider. You can and should discuss concerns related to sexual health and hygiene with your gynecologist. We understand those issues and want to help.

MYTH

I can’t always remember to take my birth control pill every day, but taking a daily pill is my only option.
FACT
There are safe and effective options that give women freedom from a daily medication. Patients can have a hormonal implant inserted under the skin of their upper arm. There are also intrauterine devices (IUD) that may be either hormonal or non-hormonal. These devices will prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years depending on the type used. They also are easily removed if you wish to discontinue earlier. Talk to your gynecologist about what option is best for you.

MYTH
Going months between cycles is just normal for some women. 
FACT
This is not normal unless it is medically induced. Menstrual regularity is important, and not having a monthly cycle could be a sign of a serious problem. It is very uncommon for women to stop having monthly cycles before the age of 40. Keep track of when your cycle starts and monitor their regularity. If you have stopped having a monthly cycle before 40, see your gynecologist for evaluation right away. While pre-menopause is a possibility, conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS could also be to blame. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to serious health problems including diabetes and cancer.

MYTH

Hot flashes, mood changes, difficulty having sex…there is nothing I can do about these issues during menopause!
FACT
Many women have been told they just have to “deal with it” when it comes to symptoms associated with menopause and pre-menopause. This is simply not true. A woman going 12
months since her last cycle signals menopause. Typically, in her 40s or 50s, women have a natural decline in reproductive hormones. However, it is not all about the hormones, and
checking hormone levels is not always the answer. Your gynecologist can perform tests to rule out other medical conditions that could be causing these symptoms. Whether it is caused by menopause or something else, there are treatments and medications that can help. You do not have to “just deal with it.

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Dr. Pallavi Khanna is an OB/GYN with Regional One Health. She sees women of all ages for their gynecological needs. Dr. Khanna has a special interest in menopause and recently achieved the Certified Menopause Practitioner designation from the North American Menopause Society. Dr. Khanna sees patients at Regional One Health East Campus at 6555 Quince Road, located at the Kirby exit of 385. To schedule an appointment, call 901-515-3100. Or visit RegionalOneHealth.org.

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