Your next pap smear will go a lot more smoother if you stop doing these things.
Even though most of us don’t look forward to our annual visit with our OB/GYN, we’re all craving assurance that everything “down there” is working like a fine-tuned machine. Still, the few minutes (at most) that you’re allotted with your gyno each year—that is, once you’re settled out of the stirrups—doesn’t always allow for you to ask every question you might have about your lady bits. So we reached out to top OB/GYNs to find out some of the habits they want us to stop doing for the sake of our sexual and reproductive health.
Slacking on your health
Of course any doctor is going to expect that you’re on top of your game when it comes your health and well-being—and there’s no exception when it comes to reproductive health. “A balanced diet, exercise in moderation, adequate sleep, and stress reduction all improve one’s general reproductive health and may even improve the chance for pregnancy,” Alison Zimon, M.D, a top reproductive endocrinologist and co-Medical Director at CCRM Boston, said. Alcohol and smoking also both have a negative health impact. “Alcohol can affect the early development of a baby during pregnancy, and so any woman who is trying to conceive should abstain from alcohol as much as possible to avoid inadvertent exposure of the fetus during early pregnancy.” Smoking is an obvious don’t, whether or not you’re TTC, as it also has been shown to negatively affect developing eggs and is associated with higher chances for miscarriage and infertility,” Zimon explained.
Not filling your doc in on your medical history
Your health records and medical history, from doctors you’ve seen previously, are very important for any new health care provider to understand. “This allows him or her to fully assess your risk factors and best determine steps in evaluation and treatment,” Zimon said. “For example, sometimes patients will not disclose that they had a prior miscarriage or termination, or that they had a prior STD such as chlamydia.” Because all of those situations can be associated with complications, it’s vital that you give your doc a proper update.
Forgoing condoms with new partners
“Condoms are the best way to help prevent sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and HIV infections,” says Sherry Ross, M.D., OB/GYN and women’s health expert in Santa Monica, California and author of She-ology. “Using condoms also helps prevent HPV-related diseases such as cervical cancer.” Though they’re not 100% effective against all infections, they do give you the best shot at preventing problems.
Despite what you may have heard or read, douching is a definite don’t, experts say. It might sound like something that will “clean you out” or make you smell better, but the active ingredients used in most douches can actually upset the healthy vaginal discharge and pH balance, creating a yeast or bacterial infection instead, says Ross—and no one wants that!
Taking supplements without consulting your doc
These days, you can take almost anything via an over-the-counter supplement—and you don’t even have to go to a drugstore to get them. In fact, even your local bodega might sell a product that “claims” to be a supplement. But not all supplements are created equal and many are combined with filler ingredients that you’d probably prefer not to swallow. Additionally, many supplements are not safe during preconception and early pregnancy, Zimon added. Thus, it’s really important to review all medications with your doctor to be sure that the supplements are not associated with risk or harm.
Thinking you can’t get pregnant during your period
News flash: It might be rare, but it’s totally possible “If you have a short interval between each period, meaning you ovulate early in the cycle, you can still get pregnant on your period,” Ross said. “For example, sperm lives for around three days, so if you have sex on day six of your period and ovulate on day nine, you could get pregnant.” Now you know!