Your annual OBGYN appointment is coming up and by this point in your collegiette career you probably feel like a pro. You’ve driven to the office a handful of times, chatted with the receptionist, and waited patiently while flipping through the latest issue of Glamour. When your name is called, you confidently walk into the examination room like you have done each year before.
For such a routine appointment, it is surprising how many college-age women aren’t familiar with the dos and don’ts of visiting the gynecologist. Not only are there tips and tricks when it comes to preparing for the appointment, but there are certain things to know while you are meeting with your gynecologist. It is always better to be well informed to the point of over preparedness than left in the dark, so here are some dos and don’ts to consider the next time you see your gyno.
DO find a gynecologist who you are comfortable with.
This is probably the most important tip when it comes to your gynecology appointment. If you aren’t comfortable talking with your gynecologist, then it is time to do some research and find someone who meshes better with your personality. You want to find a doctor who you will be comfortable talking to because let’s face it – OBGYN appointments can get pretty awkward. If you are more comfortable with a female, then find a female gyno. If you would feel more at ease talking to someone closer in age to you, then look for a younger doctor. It is all about making the appointment as comfortable as possible because let’s face it – the more comfortable you are, the more likely you will be to open up to your OBGYN!
Jessica, a junior at Ohio University, is a big advocate of finding a gyno that you can talk to without feeling judged. She shares, “The doctor I see is always open to any of my questions and always tells me what she’s about to do and why, which I really appreciate. It makes an uncomfortable process a lot less nerve racking.”
Along the same lines, Kathryn, a senior at University of Tennessee-Knoxville, shares, “I’ve never felt judged by my OBGYN, only understood. If you aren’t comfortable with yours, find one that you can be honest and open with. You should be able to ask questions and be honest. That’s so important for your health as a woman!”
So where should you look if you are on the market for a new gynecologist? First of all, ask around. Most collegiettes have a favorite OBGYN whose name they will love to pass around. If word of mouth isn’t unveiling any fabulous doctors that fulfill your criteria, then check out www.healthgrades.com. All you have to do is enter the specialty (Obstetrician and Gynecologist) and your zip code. The result is a list of doctors with credentials, experience, contact information and patient reviews.
DO keep track of your monthly cycle.
Life can get pretty busy and doing something as simple as keeping track of your period might slip through the cracks. However, it can be extremely beneficial to monitor when your cycle arrives each month, how long it lasts, and anything out-of-the-ordinary that occurs. Dr. Sara Gottfried, a Harvard-trained gynecologist, explains, “It’s important to get in this habit so that you know if your period is regular. The timing tells you a lot about whether your hormones are in balance or not.”
Technology has made tracking your cycle that much easier. Using iCal is one effective method, but there are also a host of iPhone and smartphone apps. My personal favorite? Period Tracker Deluxe. It not only has a feminine and girly interface, but it allows you to track your symptoms, mood, weight, and other potentially important factors. The deluxe version is $1.99, but there is a free lite version available for any frugal collegiette trying to save her hard-earned money.
If you aren’t super techy, you can always keep track of your cycle the old school way like Jessica, a sophomore at Hobart and William Smith College. Jessica shares, “I have a mini calendar that I keep in my sock drawer so every month when the time comes I mark down the day I got my period.” This guarantees privacy whereas there is always the possibility of a little sibling playing with your iPhone and maybe seeing something you don’t want them to see.