Should I be going to a gynecologist?

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Leo_3
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Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Leo_3 »

Hi, I have a couple of questions about gynecologists.

I have a friend who mentioned that they go to a gynecologist. I've read a bit, but I don't know much about what OBGYNs do, or what an appointment looks like. My mother's never mentioned them or had an appointment as far as I know. (She's also from a small town in different country, so things were probably different there. For example, she's never used tampons, didn't introduced me to them, and was pretty skeptical when I asked to get some a the store. She's also never taught me about cup sizes, and I still have no idea how that works.)

What I'm wondering is this:
Who should see a gynecologist, and when?
Do you only need to go to one if you're sexually active? (If so, sexually active in what way?)
how do I know where I fall on the should-see-a-gynecologist scale? (Should I?)
If I fall into the "yes" category, is it important enough that I need to bring it up to my mother?

Oh, and now that I mentioned it, should I learn cup sizes? (Or at least learn my own?) And do I need to know how to check for breast cancer? (My mother and doctor haven't talked to me about that.)

Edit: On a somewhat related note, I've never had a sex-ed class/talk at school besides an ancient, online, half-semester health class last year, which was also about driving and drugs and diet and exercise. (I don't know if I was absent or the school system just chose not to provide that much information.) My mother talked to me a bit about puberty & menstruation some years ago, but I don't feel very comfortable talking to her.

I now it's broad, but is there anything I need to know? Or resources that have a helpful, non-overwhelming, amount of information that would be applicable for someone my age? (I don't need most of that knowledge now, but it would be good to know for future reference and for my own feeling of security.)
"We absolutely don't know what living is. Sometimes atoms arranged in a certain way just get very haunted. That's us. When an explosion explodes hard enough, dust wakes up and thinks about itself. And then writes about it." (cryptonature, reddit)
Nadine E.
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Nadine E. »

Hey there Atacatris,

Those are all great questions! You've asked about a few different things, so I'll split up the responses accordingly.

Seeing an OB/GYN:

Lots of people are unsure if, when, and why to see an OB/GYN. Generally speaking, if a person with a uterus has started menstruating, is sexually active, or has any sexual or reproductive concerns, it is advisable to see an OB/GYN, especially for preventative care. The extent of what that care would look like would depend on the person. We have a couple of resources specifically on whether someone should see an OB/GYN, and what a visit to an OB/GYN would typically consist of. I’ll share those here. Once you’ve read through them, I’m happy to answer any more questions you might have about this! You mentioned that you don’t feel very comfortable talking to your mother. How do you think she would react if you talked to her about possibly seeing an OB/GYN?

Breasts:

When you ask about cup sizes, I'm assuming you're referring to breast cups, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Assuming you are referring to breast size: it can be helpful to have a sense of your size depending on if you wear, or want to wear, a bra, and if so, what kind of bra. It’s completely up to you if you’d like to wear a bra, and some bras can work for different breast sizes, while others need very specific sizing.

In terms of checking for breast cancer: It is generally important for a person to get to know their breasts (and their bodies more broadly) to be able to tell if something feels or looks different as a way of tracking their breasts’ health. A self-exam is one way to do that, but not the only way.

I recommend checking out this piece ‘Abreast: The Basics of Boobies’ - it covers a lot of information on breasts, including size and health! And again, happy to answer any questions about anything you read.

General Sex-Ed Resources:

It’s definitely a shame that your school (like many schools, unfortunately) isn’t actually providing proper sex education. But it’s great that you’re trying to seek out some reliable information yourself! Our whole website is filled with many different resources on a wide range of topics that fall under sex-ed, but I totally get that it can be overwhelming! Here are some pages that could be helpful to start with: If there are other specific topics you'd like resources for, just let me know!
Leo_3
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Leo_3 »

"You mentioned that you don’t feel very comfortable talking to your mother. How do you think she would react if you talked to her about possibly seeing an OB/GYN?"

Honestly, I don't really know. My guess would be that she would say I should only go if I have a really bad problem with my period/extreme pain, or that it's only for sexually active women. (I've had my period for years, and it's normal enough as far as I know. I should probably keep better track of it.) I don't know how much my mother knows, considering her history. I was born in vitro, though, so maybe she knows more about doctors involved in the female reproductive system then I initially assumed?

As of now, I would be more comfortable waiting until I'm in charge of my own healthcare to go to a OB/GYN. I don't want to have that conversation with my mother unless she brings it up. I don't plan to become sexually active before then, so would that be okay?

"Assuming you are referring to breast size: it can be helpful to have a sense of your size depending on if you wear, or want to wear, a bra, and if so, what kind of bra."
I've worn bras for years, but I just guess and try them on without looking at the sizes. That's worked for now. I wondered if they would be more comfortable if I got them based off of size?

All my sports bras are painful to wear after a while. I still use them, because I want to run comfortably. My shoulders and back are often sore anyway, so maybe that contributes to it?


Thank you for the links! I'll read them more in-depth when I get the chance, but I already found some answers to questions I didn't even realize I had about breasts.


I actually have another question:

Should my breasts be uncomfortable? I don't mean that there's discomfort in my chest area; I'm just uncomfortable with them being there.They're in the way of my movement. I can't run comfortably without pressing an arm (or both) against my chest. And my arms can't reach across my body as easily as I want them to. I feel conscious of my chest's movement when I walk, and I don't like it.

And I dislike their size. I remember already knowing in 5th grade how large I wanted my chest to be. (There was a teacher I really idolized and thought was very pretty. I wanted a chest like hers.) If my memory is correct, I wanted them to be smaller. That's definitely true now.

I also dislike the weight of them. (I'm not sure if back/shoulder pain contributes to this or is contributed to by this.) Like their movement, I'm just really uncomfortably aware of it. Even when I'm not consciously thinking about it, I lean on surfaces a lot to try and minimize the weight. (I realized that my posture when I'm sitting at a desk specifically allows this.)

And since I'm on the topic of breasts: I don't want to wear padded bras (I already dislike their size), but I hate that the shape of my nipples are sometimes very defined through my shirt. Is there any solution?

I'm also uncomfortable with their shape. I always thought breasts with a straight-ish/slight curve towards the body on top were beautiful. (Along with small breasts too.) Mine feel too round and bulky and visible. I don't know what is the public/media depiction of beauty for breasts. This is just my own opinion. (I know there's no "solution" for breast size and that breasts come in different shapes and sizes, but it's still bothering me.)

I would typically assume that most of this is only the discomfort of change, but I've felt this way for quite some time.

I've considered that a chest binder might help with a couple of these issues, but my parents would definitely freak out if I asked to get one or if they noticed I had started wearing one.

I'm also only 15 (although I'm not too far from my 16th birthday). If what most sources on google say is true, breasts don't stop growing until you're 18. Does that mean that my discomfort with my chest is going to get worse?

I know that's a lot, but I would really appreciate information and thoughts on these different discomforts around my chest. Is there anything I can do to to help with some of these issues? Anything that I'm just going to have to get used to?

Edit: I wanted to add that the feeling of skin against skin under my breasts when I don't have a bra on is also frustrating and uncomfortable.
"We absolutely don't know what living is. Sometimes atoms arranged in a certain way just get very haunted. That's us. When an explosion explodes hard enough, dust wakes up and thinks about itself. And then writes about it." (cryptonature, reddit)
Leo_3
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Leo_3 »

Hey, I don't know if this was unnecessary, but I moved the "I actually have another question..." part of my reply to another post, since it had a different topic. I thought I would still be able to edit & remove the question from this post, and only just realized it isn't possible to edit that out anymore. I just wanted to apologize for the mistake!
"We absolutely don't know what living is. Sometimes atoms arranged in a certain way just get very haunted. That's us. When an explosion explodes hard enough, dust wakes up and thinks about itself. And then writes about it." (cryptonature, reddit)
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Leo_3,

No worries, it's okay to continue with that additional question here!

On the topic of gynecologist visits, since you're not noticing any issues that are concerning you and you're not currently sexually active (and it sounds like not planning on being so any time soon), I think it's okay to table this for now. Of course, if you decide you'd rather still go ahead and get one before you're sexually active, or you notice issues that should be looked at by a gynecologist, we're happy to help you figure out how to have that conversation with your mom.

In terms of those feelings about your breasts, I think frustration or discomfort with them is more common that a lot of people realize. And it also makes sense that you're noticing more discomfort with them now, since you're in the midst of puberty and are having to get used to a body part that's gotten far more noticeable in the last few years. It also sounds like the size of your breasts is causing you some physical issues such as back pain, which I imagine is only adding to your discomfort with them.

It's possible that some of your discomfort could be addressed by finding styles of bra that work for you. You mentioned before that running bras are uncomfortable, but I'm wondering if finding a properly-sized (as in not digging into your skin) Frog Bra or other good quality athletic bra would be the way to go; that would offer you more support and is also a favored approach by people who would prefer to minimize their chests but can't or don't want to use a binder.

Too, there are other non-sports bras out there that could be a good fit for you, as there are options between "padded and not what I want" and "too thin to be helpful." Have you ever hunted around for bra recommendations for people with large chests that are actually written by people who have them? If not, that could be a starting place to find out what people who are dealing with similar issues to yours have found worked for them.

In terms of the overall discomfort, would you say the bulk of it is coming from your breasts not looking how you hoped they would or expected them to? Or have you been getting comments or other treatment for people outside yourself that's also making you feel discomfort?
Leo_3
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Leo_3 »

Great! I just wanted to make sure it was okay to not be going to a gynecologist.

Yes, I quite dislike the extra weight. My back's already messed up (youth scoliosis with an s-shaped curve) and my backpack is pretty heavy (I've done what I can to lighten it up), so I'm not in a great position to be putting extra stress onto my back & spine. If I could exercise more and strengthen my back it would probably help, but I'm very busy with classes and extracurriculars.

I looked up the Frog Bra, and the Titlenine site said they were discontinued. Additionally every bra I found that had a similar design seems especially expensive, and my mom will definitely not approve of paying more (as I found out the last time I went shopping for bras). I can pay for it myself, but my mom would probably still make a big deal out of it once she saw how much I was spending.

I'll stay on the lookout for recommendations on affordable bras that might work better for me.


I would say that I never really "expected" my chest to look any certain sort of way. I just didn't think about it. (I occasionally noticed something I thought was preferable, pretty, or just plain convenient on others, but I didn't think of it in terms of what I would end up with.) I guess I just assumed I would slowly get a chest like my mom's, since we share a lot of other body features.

What I didn't expect was the weight, the limitation in movement (such as running/jerky movements), the self-consciousness, and how unlike me my chest feels. I don't think my breasts are ugly (I take some issue with my stomach and thighs, but what can you do?), they're just uncomfortable? I can't think of a better way to describe it right now.

Sometimes I don't even realize that the weight is bothering me until I lean on a table or use my hands to support my chest. Then, I feel a sudden relief on my back as the weight is lessened. I also think that the weight might be negatively impacting my posture?

I don't like that other people can see the shape and size of my chest, but I don't think it's because of anything someone's said. I just like my privacy and feel uncomfortable with the idea of people noticing my chest. I'm not sure if that's because I haven't adjusted to seeing myself with breasts this size? I haven't thought about it in a while, but my chest started to grow maybe 3 to 4 years ago? So, it's not like having breasts is sudden or new.

Also, I really don't know if my chest would be considered on the larger side? Definitely not on the smaller side, but maybe in the middle? I really have no idea. I'm not sure wether that matters to this conversation or not.

Thank you so much for responding!
"We absolutely don't know what living is. Sometimes atoms arranged in a certain way just get very haunted. That's us. When an explosion explodes hard enough, dust wakes up and thinks about itself. And then writes about it." (cryptonature, reddit)
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Nadine E. »

Hi Leo_3,

It's totally possible that you haven’t yet adjusted to seeing yourself with the breasts you have. I remember when I went through puberty I was really uncomfortable with my breast growth - both in terms of size and shape - and it took me a while to accept them.

As we go through puberty, our bodies start to look and feel ways that we just aren’t used to - so it can create this kind of disconnect between how we see ourselves and what we actually look like. I think part of getting reconnected to those changes can be to notice and pay attention to how those changes are impacting us and what might help us feel better and more at peace with our bodies, so it’s great that you’re doing exactly that. I do think it can take some time and getting used to, and your feelings about your breasts will possibly change over time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take whatever steps you can to cope with some of the discomfort now as well. I definitely second Sam W’s recommendation to try to find a bra that fits and functions better. That could potentially help address both the physical and psychological discomfort you’ve been experiencing. If you’re finding that you’re continuing to experience back discomfort or even pain, though, then it might be worth seeing your doctor about it.

I don’t think knowing your exact breast size is necessarily important for this conversation, but as we mentioned, it can be helpful to figure out your breast size to make sure you’re getting well-fitted bras. You can usually ask wherever you buy your bras for help with sizing, or you can use how-tos like this one to try to measure them yourself.

In terms of visibility, could you share a bit more about your discomfort with people noticing your chest? Has that already been happening? How has that made you feel? And/or what concerns you about people seeing your chest?
Leo_3
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Leo_3 »

I can't think of any specific event where someone noticed my chest, or said anything about it, I'm just really self-conscious. I wish I knew why people seeing my chest bothers me, but I can't think of any reason why it should.
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Sam W »

If you're really self-conscious in general, then that may be the main thing at play here, rather than you having interactions that lead to you feeling a certain way about your chest. Would it be helpful to talk about some ways to maybe dial down those self-conscious feelings so they're not getting to you as often?
Leo_3
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Leo_3 »

Yes, that would be very helpful!
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Re: Should I be going to a gynecologist?

Unread post by Heather »

I'm sorry that this sat from Friday without an answer, Leo.

Can I ask if you already have anything that you do to help yourself feel better with something else, besides your chest, that makes you feel insecure or self-conscious? For example, like if and when you maybe mean to say one thing but say something that comes out totally wrong to someone whose optinion you care about?
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