Kristen Bryant-Winky Face With Pills

Going to the Gynecologist: Don’t be Scared, Be Prepared

On average, after you turn 18, you should see your gynecologist about once a year. For a lot of college aged women who have just moved out, this can be daunting. Some women put off their reproductive health until later in life and this can cause serious medical issues, so here are some tips to help you prepare for that dreaded visit.

Plan something fun after! 

This is hands down the most important tip. Do you remember when you were little and your parents used to take you to go get ice cream after a visit with the dentist? This is exactly like that. Going to the gynecologist can be very emotionally taxing so it’s important to set up something that will keep the day bright!

Don’t look online for support. 

Now we’re not advising against reaching out for help or suggestions, but when you start looking on social media platforms, you’re only inviting people to share their worst experiences, and not their best advice. Not to mention the embarrassing replies you could receive from family members. It’s best to save any leering questions you have for a close friend or the doctor themselves.

Don’t be afraid to request a specific gynecologist.

Doctors offices and clinics tend to be accommodating towards patient preferences, so if you really find yourself uncomfortable with the prospect of having a male doctor, you can always request a female! The most important part of going to the doctor is to monitor your health without causing you any trauma. It’s also important to be prepared to wait a little longer if you have to switch physicians. 

If your gynecologist makes you feel weird, get a new one. 

Your comfort is a very important part of your health, and if a physician does anything to make you uncomfortable, then it’s time to find a new one. This goes for all your medical needs, don’t settle for subpar medical treatment. 

Take a friend or family member.

At times when you are scared or concerned it’s good to remember you’re not alone. If you’re super close with your mom, ask her. If you feel more comfortable around friends, ask one that you know you can trust and rely on for support. Either way, take advantage of whatever support system you have.

Be prepared for baby overload. 

Instead of fun graphs and informational posters like most doctors offices, the gynecologist is littered with pictures of babies. Babies on the walls, baby footprints on the floors -- I’ve even seen them on the ceiling!  New mothers often send pictures or cards of their newborn little ones to their OB/GYN. If you’re not prepared it can be a lot, but whatever you do, don’t catch baby fever!

Write down everything.

If you have a specific reason for going to the gynecologist you should write down your symptoms as you experience them. Relying on your memory alone sometimes just isn’t good enough -- it can leave you at a loss for words or even potentially being misdiagnosed.

Get a basic knowledge of your vagina and how it works. 

This is the time when the internet is your best friend. Look up some key terms about your reproductive system. Going into your appointment with this basic knowledge will help you communicate better and help your gynecologist better understand what may be troubling you. 

The gynecologist is not some looming monster. They’re just people and they’re people who happen to be vital to your reproductive health. Take advantage of any advice they offer you and most importantly, just remember to breathe. If you find yourself feeling nervous, don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that. Sometimes simply addressing that you’re feeling anxious is helpful, and it will likely make your doctor a bit more empathetic. Check out the website for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for more resources before your next appointment!