I have once written about a friend of mine, who, while we were in the University, terminated a pregnancy. When she got married and found it difficult to get pregnant, she thought that God was punishing her for what she did. She never imagined that she had a physiological problem and proceeded to worry and hate herself, and then worry some more. The day she finally decided to go to the hospital with her hubby, the doctor asked for her history and when he asked if she had ever undergone a surgical procedure, she replied no. It took her kind husband’s piercing eyes and silent nod, before she stammered to the doctor about having undergone an evacuation in the past. “But it was really long ago” she added, guilt washing over her again. The doctor’s face bore no judgment as and proceeded with his investigative tests and scans, and after a few months of treatment, she was able to get pregnant.
We all keep secrets, but besides your Lawyer and Priest, the one person who needs to know all your embarrassing medical secrets is your doctor. A lot of times, we women do not help ourselves when we keep vital information from our doctors. The reason they always ask for our history is to link all factors…sort of like a jigsaw puzzle…in order to identify the root cause and, hopefully, proffer solutions. A problem you consider as simply embarrassing, or too private, may be a symptom of an undiagnosed medical condition…most likely treatable. As a guideline, I have outlined some seemingly embarrassing secrets that you have to tell your doctor; if you have them, and are hoping to get pregnant.
1. Excessive body or facial hair
You would not think that something like unusual hair growth is something to tell your doctor, right? It is even very likely that shave or wax every morning, and no-one notices that you have excessive hair growth. However, if you do, and especially if you are undergoing fertility investigation, it is imperative that you mention this at your next appointment. Why? Because excessive facial or body hair growth is a possible symptom of hormonal imbalance, and could signal a possible problem with your androgen levels. PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is often the culprit, but other possible causes are ovarian or adrenal tumors, Non-classical hyperplasia (NCAH) or hyperandrogegism, all of which can cause infertility and also affect your general health. Be sure to tell your doctor about that excessive hair growth but there’s no need to stop shaving or waxing though.
2. Painful Intercourse
I have met many women who complain about experiencing severe pain during intercourse, but yet do not see any reason to tell their doctors about it. Occasional discomfort is pretty normal, but severely painful sex all the time is an indication of a problem. Sex should not be painful, and painful sex is caused by a number of conditions that affect fertility. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), pelvic adhesions, fibroids and Endometriosis can all cause pain during sex, all of which are indicators of infertility. And even if none of these conditions is prevalent, if sex is too painful for you to enjoy, it might lead to you having less of it, and thus further hampering your conception chances. Some women will experience pain due to dryness of the vagina, which not only can make sex uncomfortable but also harm your odds of getting pregnant. So your doctor definitely needs to know if you have any of these.
3. No wetness during sex
The fluids that are secreted when a woman is aroused make sex more comfortable, and also provide a healthier environment for sperm. Often times, when women experience vaginal dryness, we attribute it to a lack of sexual arousal, and proceed to have painful sex or make use of lubricants. Shame, embarrassment for not ‘getting wet’ or ignorance that it could mean a problem, prevents those women from saying anything to their doctors. What most of us do not know is that vaginal dryness can be caused by vaginal infection, hormonal imbalance or as a reaction to some medication. If you are already trying to conceive with Clomid, vaginal dryness could result. Even at that, it is still important to mention it to your doctor. If the vaginal dryness is as a result of medication, such medication can be replaced with another alternative. For example, a lot of us have had to replace Clomid with Femara because of the vaginal dryness experienced. If you also have to make use of lubricants, your doctor can advise you on sperm-friendly options, because some lubricants contain spermicides. If the dryness is as a result of hormonal imbalance, your doctor may prescribe supplements/medication to counter this.
4. Lack of sexual interest
“I don’t feel like having sex” sounds like something you might say to a Psychologist, not your Gynaecologist, right? However, a lack of sexual desire could be physiological, not just psychological. When your sexual desire dwindles, it could be a sign of a medical issue. Granted, you can get tired of timed sex and going at it for months on end without getting pregnant, and then get put off at the though of a romp, but sexual desire is rooted in the biochemistry of our bodies. You could be experiencing an imbalance with your hormones, and should tell your Gynaecologist. When females approach ovulation, the hormones connected to our sexual desires increase…which is nature’s way of ensuring we have sex during our fertile window…so if you are not experiencing that ‘horniness’ then, your doctor should be in the know.
5. Painful Bowel Movements
We all know that bowel movements can be uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be painful. I’ll never forget a friend who would practically pass out when defecating. She never told her doctor about the pain. She thought it was just something weird about her body that she had to deal with. Now, if you experience pain during a bowel movement, then your doctor should know about this, because Endometriosis can be the cause. Research shows that patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are more likely to later be diagnosed with Endometriosis than those without.
So ladies, make sure you share that embarrassing secret you are holding on to, with your Gynaecologist immediately!!! It could just be hindering your baby-making dreams! God speed to us all.
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