The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Going to your first gynecologist appointment can be daunting. There are so many things that you may not be expecting, such as what the doctor will ask you, and what will happen during the visit. Since the reproductive system is so complex, it may be hard to formulate questions for your gynecologist, or identify the most relevant ones to ask. Once you get through your first appointment, you will have a better sense of who your gynecologist is and what types of questions are relevant to ask during an appointment. After the first appointment, then comes the even harder part: continuous or annual gynecologist appointments. As someone who eventually wants to become a gynecologist, and is a woman, there are so many things I don’t know about my body, and so many things I want to ask my gynecologist. I’ve created a list of questions based on ones that I have thought of in the past, and from my knowledge of the reproductive system as your friendly pre-med student!
Tip: Try to see your gynecologist at least once a year! It’s important that we as women take care of our bodies, and educate ourselves about them as well!
Here are a list of questions that you should ask your gynecologist:
1. Is it okay to have a fluctuating cycle?
This question should be asked to understand whether it is okay to have a cycle that varies in number of days. It can help identify abnormalities with your hormones or reproductive system.
2. IS it normal to have cramps on my period?
When you ask this question, make sure you describe the pain you are feeling, and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being minimal pain or no pain and 10 being the highest level of pain. If you describe the characteristics, it helps the doctor learn more about what pain you are experiencing.
3. What contraceptive method is best for me?
Every body is created differently, and every person has different priorities in their life when it comes to contraception. The most common type of hormonal contraception is birth control. Birth control can come in varying dosages, so it is best to talk to your doctor about which dosage you are ready to start on. If that dosage does not work, your doctor will be able to increase the dosage, depending on your consent and the circumstance.
There are other methods, such as vaginal rings, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and more that are worth asking your doctor about.
4. How can i protect myself against sexually transmitted infections (STI)?
STIs are very common, especially during your time in college. It is important to know how to protect yourself, so you don’t have to worry about this infection. STI screenings are another way to consistently and accurately check for STIs and see if you need to pursue further treatment or other prevention strategies.
5. What can i do to prevent myself from increasing my risk for breast cancer?
Breast cancer affects almost 1 in 8 women. Although breast cancer cannot be prevented, it is important to understand ways to detect it before it becomes advanced. Self-breast exams can be a great way for you to quickly notice any lumps or bruises. If you notice any changes in your breasts that are not due to your period/menstrual cycle, this is also something to bring up to your doctor.
Mammograms are typically recommended for women beginning at age 40, as age is a factor that increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
6. Can I test for BRCA mutations in my 20’s?
The BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are mutations that can increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Mutations interrupt the normal functions of the gene. In this case, the BRCA mutations will increase a woman’s chance for breast cancer or ovarian cancer (John Hopkins Medicine). If you have a genetic history, such as having a grandmother or mother with these genes, you should let your doctor know, in order to plan next steps.
Being open with your doctor is the best way to ensure that any signs or concerns are addressed in a timely manner. Because every woman is different, your doctor will give you recommendations based on your lifestyle, age, and genetic history.
Obviously, these questions I have included are not all encompassing, as they include just a few questions my friends and I have had before. If you identify as a woman, it is very important to ask your doctor any questions you do have, as they are the ones that know the reproductive system the best. To be honest, they have been in school for over 10 years studying this material!
Last, but not least, you have the right to be aware of your health! Never be afraid to voice your concerns, no matter how trivial you may think it is. I hope you have a great next gynecologist appointment, and feel more confident walking into that medical room.
P.S. Here are some other resources to help further educate yourself about your reproductive health:
*DISCLAIMER: This article is not medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, images and other material contained in this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.*