Everything I Learned After Working at a Gynecologist Office for a Year

Some days I would come home after work and wonder if this is what I signed up for. Whenever I asked my coworkers if I was crazy for being stressed out after one day, they would tell me that it’s just a normal day at the office. 

After a couple of months, I realized my coworkers were right. In fact, the beginning was the easiest part of the job.

I thought I would know a lot about the topics I had covered while working the job — such as birth control, menstruation and women’s health — but after the first day I realized that I knew nothing.

My job title in the office was a phone operator, so I was supposed to just handle phone operations and speak to customers to schedule appointments, send medication to the proper pharmacy, ask the doctor questions or simply advise on any patient conflicts through my written protocol. 

However, after I got the hang of things, the overflow of patients would catch up to my job’s duties.

I would be sent to the front desk to check in and check out patients, perform cardiac evaluations on patients, send medications to their pharmacy, write mammogram orders and send patients to the lab. If I was not at the front desk, I would work in the back of the office to organize medical records or verify insurance plans.

The first thing I learned in a gynecologist office is the different brands of birth control, how each one can affect you differently, different methods of birth control and how forgetful most patients are regarding birth control.

I would get a call every day from a concerned patient who forgot her birth control. Sometimes the patient forgot it after she went on a plane to a business trip, sometimes the patient forgot a couple days and would take three pills at once, or sometimes the patient even forgot to replace her IUD.

The best advice I have for these patients who forget their birth control is to simply call the office the day you forget before taking any drastic actions. For example, taking three birth control pills all at once is not the best idea, and forgetting to replace an IUD can be painful after a while. Before you take drastic actions, call the office and ask what you should do (and please do not take three pills at once). Also, if you realized you are late in replacing your IUD, make an appointment immediately to check and make sure everything is okay, depending on how long you forgot, and consult your doctor to get the procedure done as soon as possible.

Along with the birth control methods, I noticed another constant problem with every patient: the annual exam.

Pap smears are normal for every patient who is over 21 years old and sexually active, so don’t worry about it. I have had so many patients who freak out and worry if it will be painful. The majority of appointments that happen each day are pap smears, so the doctors are extremely experienced in doing it. Along with that, it is very quick, so it will be over before you know it.

If your results in the pap smear are abnormal and the doctor requests for you to do a colposcopy or a biopsy, do not immediately worry. Abnormal pap smears do not mean that it is the end of the world. Sometimes it can mean the sample was faulty (so you are fine) or the doctor just needs to take a closer look at your cervix to confirm that everything is fine. In case treatment needs to occur, the doctor will guide you through that.

Another common instance I encountered at the gynecologist's office was a missed period. Let me tell you this right now: Missed periods are not the end of the world.

I can go on about the everyday calls of women crying to me about a missed period. After I ask how many days late they are, I can tell what the situation is.

A missed period should only be addressed by your doctor if it is 14 days late. Along with that, missed periods do not always mean that you are pregnant. If you are a week late on your period and you have no symptoms of pregnancy, such as tender breasts and increased nausea, you are likely fine. 

Missed periods are extremely normal and can occur because of changing birth controls, medications, heavy exercise and the most common factor: stress.

Believe it or not, stress is one of the biggest reasons for people missing a period. If you are stressed out from a missed period and immediately freak out because you think you are pregnant, the increased stress will not help.

If you are still worried anyway, just try out a pregnancy test from your local pharmacy,

Another thing I learned from working at the office was how commonly people would overreact to yeast infections or urinary tract infections.

Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. Vaginas already have yeast normally to balance out the pH, so an overgrowth would cause irritation and itching. The most common reasons for yeast overgrowth is a pH imbalance, increased estrogen and antibiotic use.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can occur in any part of your urinary system, most commonly in the bladder or urethra. The famous UTI is very common in the office, especially in teenage girls. Some symptoms of the UTI include a constant urge to pee, a burning sensation while urinating and a strong smell. 

It is very normal to get either a yeast infection or a UTI, so if you do have one, just have an appointment as soon as you can to get it treated. By all means, do not let it linger for weeks because it will get worse if untreated. However, if you need to wait a couple of days for your appointment, there are many ways to alleviate symptoms, and it is not the end of the world.

Wearing cotton underwear will help with yeast infections since cotton is a lot more breathable. Also, do not go out on a hot and humid day if you have a lot of itching because it will be a lot more intense if you do.

There are also different ways to alleviate the yeast infection at home with over-the-counter products. Out of all of them, do not use the oral pills in the pharmacy since they usually do not help. Yeast infections are best treated through intravaginal products. For example, boric acid is a great way to help maintain the pH balance in the vagina, so putting boric acid intravaginally every night may help. Also, vaginal creams can help alleviate the infection. However, you should only do these methods in extreme cases and if you are advised by your doctor. 

If you have recurrent yeast infections, talk to your doctor about it so you can figure out why it keeps reoccuring. 

No matter what, do not douche! I have spoken to so many people who douche using water and vinegar, and as much as you may feel better after, it will not benefit you, and it can actually make your symptoms worse. Only douche if the doctor advises you to do so, but besides that, do not even attempt it.

Overall, do not be afraid to make an appointment at a gynecologist office to address any concerns you have. If you are having issues feeling intimate during sexual intercourse, trying to have a baby, trying to find birth control that works for you, having an issue that feels strange regarding menstruation or vaginal health or any questions for the doctor, go ahead and ask. They are there to help you, and the staff is also well-aware of the common problems that occur.

If you are worried about a sexually transmitted infection, make an appointment to the doctor immediately. STIs are extremely important to address because it can cause a lot more issues regarding vaginal health. 

Along with this, if you are looking for counseling because of issues with sexual intimacy, issues regarding pregnancy or issues regarding STIs, the doctor is likely to have very good recommendations for you.

Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor because they are there to help you and not hurt you, and that was the most important lesson I learned.