The end of the year (and the beginning of the next) is the perfect time to head to your gyno for a check-up, if you're due for one. Think of it as getting a clean bill of sexual health as you enter 2009. Here are five things that you should consider asking your gyno about in your 20 minute visit:
(1) STD testing. Don't assume that you'll get tested for "everything." Your gyno can do cervical (or urine) cultures for chlamydia and gonorrhea, vaginal tests for trichomonas, and blood tests for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis--all upon request.
(2) Pap smear need. Unless you've had a recent abnormal pap, you can ask your gyno if you really need one. The latest recommendations call for a pap with HPV testing every two to three years.
(3) Period relief. If you're beset with awful cramps or heavy bleeding every month, ask about ways to improve your periods. It may be a birth control prescription, or as simple as a high-dose anti-inflammatory medication.
(4) Contraception. Ask for a prescription with enough refills of your pill, patch or ring to last you the entire year. Your gyno can give you a script for a three-month supply at a time that you can mail in to save money, if your insurance company offers this option.
(5) Prescriptions. If you have herpes or recurrent yeast infections, you can get an advance prescription for acyclovir, Valtrex or Diflucan to have on hand for your next infection.
And if you have a lot of questions, bring a written list. It's normal to completely forget your concerns once you're shivering in that thin gown.