Whether you are preparing for a checkup, visiting to address something specific, or this is your first trip to the obstetrician-gynecologist (or OB-GYN), this will tell you everything you need to know about what to expect at a gynecologist appointment, and how to prepare for it.
The Basics of Preparing for a Gynecologist Appointment
Let’s start with when is the right time to schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN.
Doctors typically recommended that girls schedule their first visit to the OB-GYN between the ages of 13 and 15. But it is not uncommon for females to only consult with a gynecologist for the first time in their early 20s. Either way, if you are sexually active, you should be making regular trips to the gynae – by regularly, we mean annually.
During your first appointment, someone from the staff will take note of your height, weight, and blood pressure before you see the OB-GYN.
What To Expect During A Pelvic Exam
If this is your first-ever visit to the gynecologist, firstly: don’t panic! Here is what to expect during a pelvic exam:
- The doctor will perform an external examination to inspect your vulva (this includes your labia, clitoris, and the opening of your vagina).
- A vaginal and cervical exam (also known as a pap smear) will be done using a speculum (a device inserted into your vagina to get a better view). From there, a swab is used to collect a sample of cervical cells, which are sent away for testing to check for any abnormalities.
- Bimanual exam to examine your reproductive organs – a bimanual exam is performed with two hands, and the gynae uses this two-handed method to check the size and location of a woman’s pelvic organs (like the uterus and ovaries). This includes pressing down on your lower abdomen.
If you have any concerns about your pelvic exam, be sure to let your doctor know beforehand so they can walk you through the procedure and you know exactly what to expect.
Things To Keep In Mind Before Your Gynecologist Appointment
1. Know Why You’re Going To The Gynae
Before you schedule your consultation with your gynecologist, it’s important to understand why you’re visiting one in the first place. It’s a good idea to come prepared with a list of questions. This will not only help you feel prepared, but it will ensure you don’t kick yourself afterward for forgetting to ask that one question you’ve been itching to ask. Especially the embarrassing ones! Do not feel ashamed to discuss things with your OB-GYN that might make you feel uncomfortable – they hear these questions every day.
Some topics to cover:
- Birth control options
- Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Irregular periods or hormonal issues
- Fertility concerns
2. Don’t Worry About Appearances
While this is an intimate situation. It is not a date. So don’t schedule a bikini wax or other hair removal methods, since this can cause swelling and inflammation and make the examination trickier. Your doctor is not judging you for having hair down there. And the same goes for every other aspect of your vaginal region. While you may feel self-conscious it’s important to remember that doctors do this for a living. The entire purpose of your gynecologist appointment is strictly medical.
Also, don’t douche. While you may feel ashamed about vaginal discharge or odors, douching can cause more problems. Also, your discharge helps the gynecologist understand your hormonal balance, and helps identify issues such as bacterial imbalances or yeast problems.
If possible, shower and rinse your labia with water before your appointment.
3. Don’t Schedule Your Appointment During Your Period
It’s best to schedule your appointment before or after your period, since it can interfere with results you may need, such as pap smear tests. However, there are exceptions, such as if you are having heavy or irregular cycles, then you may have to schedule your gynecologist appointment during your period. If you are unsure, just ask your doctor what you should do.
4. Keep Track Of Your Cycle
Speaking of periods. You and your gynecologist will be speaking about it. So be prepared to answer questions like: “When was the first day of your last period?” It makes things easier if you have the answer to this question. Whether you use the calendar on your phone, a physical planner, or even a menstrual cycle tracking app – it helps to track your periods.
5. Don’t Have Sex The Night Before
Believe it or not, having sex before a pelvic exam may make your gynecologist’s job more challenging. Especially if you’re having a pap smear test. It is best to avoid having intercourse two days before your appointment to make sure the test results are as accurate as possible. The same goes for using any vaginal lubrication products.
6. Bring Your Medical Records
Make sure that your gynecology rooms have access to any previous medical records before your visit. It doesn’t help if you verbally tell your OB-GYN that you previously had an ultrasound or other tests done, and the doctor doesn’t have access to these.
The same goes for your general medical history. Understanding your family’s medical history can also help you prepare for your gynae appointment. So, equip yourself with information about your mother’s health history. For example, if your family has a history of blood clots, this may affect the kind of contraception your gynae prescribes.
Remember, You Are In Control
Before you arrive at your first appointment with a gynecologist, always remember that you are in control.
If it is your first appointment with an OB-GYN, let them know. You may also ask if you may have a close friend or relative in the room with you if you need support. And if you are nervous about specific procedures, simply ask the doctor to explain it to you step-by-step. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, simply ask your doctor to stop.
If you are looking for a professional gynecologist, our global network of qualified medical doctors can help you get the treatment you need. Simply download the Air Doctor app to book a consultation near you within as little as two hours.