When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, it can be hard to know what’s “normal” and what may be a sign of a potential health problem. Even if you feel embarrassed about certain issues, your gynecologist has seen and heard it all and is there to help you, not to pass judgment.
For many women, getting your period is an unpleasant time. Cramps, breast soreness and headaches are just a few of the most common menstruation symptoms. But for some women, period pain goes beyond cramps and can be incredibly severe. If your periods are very painful or have been getting worse over time, it can be a sign of endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
While vaginal odor can be an uncomfortable topic, it’s important to talk to your doctor if there is a foul or fishy smell, or if there’s a change from your normal smell that seems to be lasting for a few days.
It’s very important to talk to your doctor about sexual discomfort. You may be uncomfortable bringing it up, but your gynecologist can help explain and treat your concerns.
Immediately following your baby’s birth, your body will undergo a number of physical changes that will require special care.
Here is more of what you can expect during your postpartum recovery.
Abdominal pain. As your uterus shrinks back into its normal size and shape, you will feel pain in your abdomen (lower belly). These pains are called “after pains.” Most of these pains will be dull, but some will be sharp. You may feel more of these pains as you breastfeed your baby. That is because breastfeeding stimulates a chemical in your body that causes the uterus to contract (tighten).
Your abdominal pain should ease up over time. If these pains get worse or don’t let up, you should call your doctor.
Constipation. It is very common to be constipated in the days following childbirth. There are several things that could cause this. If you received any pain-relieving drugs in the hospital, they could slow down your bowels. If you had anesthesia (a pain blocker) for any reason, that also can cause it.
To help ease constipation, drink plenty of water and try to eat foods that offer a lot of fiber.
Hemorrhoids. You may have developed hemorrhoids (painful swelling of a vein in the rectum) during your pregnancy. If not, you may have gotten them from the strain and pushing during delivery. They can cause pain and bleed after a bowel movement. They also itch. You can get some relief from the pain and itching by applying witch hazel to your hemorrhoids. This is especially effective if you keep the witch hazel in the refrigerator. Your hemorrhoids should shrink over time. If not, contact your doctor.
Hormonal shifts. Besides fueling your mood swings, hormones are also responsible for other postpartum symptoms. You may be sweating more, especially at night when you sleep. Just make sure that your sweating is not accompanied by a fever.
That could be a sign of infection. Hormonal changes also cause hair loss for many new moms. This is only temporary. When your estrogen levels increase, your hair will return to its normal thickness.
Perineum soreness. The perineum is the area between your vagina and anus. Many times, this area will tear during childbirth. Other times, your doctor may have to make a small cut in this area to widen your vagina for childbirth. Even if neither of these things happened during your vaginal birth, you perineum will be sore and possibly swollen postpartum. You may feel discomfort in this area for several weeks.
Notify your doctor if your perineum area does not get less sore each day or you have any sign of infection.