There comes a time in every gal’s life where she has to bite the bullet and schedule her first gynecologist appointment. And chances are, if you’re a woman and are reading this, you SHOULD be seeing a gynecologist. We know, we know- it can seem terrifying, awkward, or embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be!
In fact, can you imagine not relying on sketchy Googled articles about your period, discharge, or your sexual health? You can form a relationship with your doctor where you can ask anything about your health that you want- with no shame! You don’t have to whisper at the brunch table with your girlfriends or rely on a random stranger’s input on internet forums. Pretty great, right?
And if you have been putting off that gyno appointment for a year (or 2 years, or 5 years…) we are here to help! I’m going to try to answer some of the most common questions our clients ask us, because if they are wondering, you probably are too.
It is recommended that unless you are having a problem and need to go sooner, a girl should see a gynecologist for the first time between ages 13 and 15. That’s right- if you are reading this, are over 15, and have not yet been to the “lady doc”, find a doctor (select specialty- obstetrics + gynecology) and make an appointment!
If you are not having any problems and are not sexually active, many times at your first visit you will simply talk to your doctor. You can expect the doctor to ask you about you and your family’s medical history. Your doctor will also ask you personal questions about your period and if you are sexually active. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Your doctor is required to keep most things you share with him or her confidential, so if you are worried about that be sure to talk about what he or she is and isn’t allowed to share.
Aaaand, sometimes, you will have an exam at your first appointment.
We promise that for the majority of women, the exam is a breeze. And your doctor will put your comfort and privacy first! If you would be more comfortable with a family member or friend present, be sure to voice that. The doctor may also have a nurse present while he examines you. Usually at the first visit you can expect a general physical exam and an external genital exam done. Unless you are having problems such as pain or abnormal bleeding, you usually don’t need to have an internal exam done.
A general physical exam
A general exam will include your height and weight. The doctor will also listen to your heart and lungs and stomach.
An external genital exam
In an external genital exam, your doctor will examine your vulva. The vulva is the outside opening of your vagina.
An internal genital exam
An internal genital exam includes a pelvic exam and a Pap test. You probably won’t have this until you are 21, but it is still good to know what this is. A Pap test checks for changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer. During this exam, the doctor will look at your vulva, look at your vagina and cervix with a speculum, and check your internal organs with his hand (he will have on a glove). To do this, he will insert his finger up to your cervix and press on your abdomen with his other hand.
You should come ready to discuss any special concerns or questions you have with your doctor, such as:
- Your period
- Feeling sad
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Your sexual activity
- Birth control
- Alcohol, smoking, and drug use
- If anyone is abusing you (verbally, physically or sexually)
And we know you might also have some questions you may be too shy to ask. Maybe we can help:
- What if I am on my period? If you are on your period, it is probably a good idea to reschedule! If your periods are regular, you should try to make your appointment during a time when you won’t be menstruating.
- What if I smell bad? Your doctor is a medical professional. They are concerned with your health so the only way they would be paying attention to your odor is if you bring up a change in odor or if they think your odor could be a sign of a STI or Bacterial Vaginosis. (p.s.- it’s totally normal to wonder if you are normal down below!)
- Will I have to tell my doc about my sex life? Your doctor will ask questions about your sexual activity and you should be totally prepared to be 100% honest. They are not there to judge you! Plus, as mentioned above, you are in control who is in the room with you during your visit.
- Will my internal exam hurt? You will likely feel pressure but should not feel pain. If you do experience discomfort, speak up!
- Do I need to wax or shave? Just be clean and don’t worry about the rest!
Knowledge is power, and I hope that by answering some questions about your first trip to the gynecologist, you feel a little bit more comfortable about making that first very important appointment.
Until next time ❤️️