For many teens and women, seeing a gynecologist for the first time can be a daunting and fearful prospect. But the truth is, visiting a gynecologist isn’t actually a bad experience at all.
What’s a Normal Age to First See a Gynecologist?
Many recommend that girls see a gynecologist for the first time somewhere between the ages of 13 and 15. If you’re older and have never seen a gynecologist, don’t let this guideline put you off from making an appointment.
Will the Visit be Uncomfortable or Awkward?
While it’s completely normal to be nervous before your first gynecological exam, there’s really no reason to be. Most likely, the appointment won’t be nearly as awkward or scary as you might expect.
Your doctor will thoroughly explain everything and will likely be friendly, putting you at ease. You can expect to talk about things like your health history and your family and their health. Also, your menstrual cycle, whether or not you’re sexually active, whether you consume alcohol, and other personal topics. It’s important to answer honestly so that your doctor is able to get an accurate understanding of your health.
Can I Bring Someone Along for Support?
Most doctors will allow you to bring someone along to your exam.
What Should I Expect During My Exam?
When you visit the gynecologist, many doctors will want to run a few tests. These exams will vary depending on why you’re there, whether you’re sexually active, and how old you are. Height, weight, and blood pressure measurements are common, as are external genital exams, pelvic exams, breast exams and pap smears. However, a first visit may simply involve conversing with the doctor, and not include any tests. For young patients, a doctor may not perform a pelvic exam. Pap smears aren’t performed on women who are under 21.
What Should I Expect During an External Genital Exam?
During an external genital exam, a doctor will take a look at the area around your vaginal opening. This includes the labia, vulva, clitoris, and anus. Your doctor may even use a mirror so you’re able to see what these body parts look like.
What Should I Expect During a Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear?
A pelvic exam is performed yearly once patients hit age 21 or so. During this quick test that usually lasts little more than ten minutes, your doctor will look for signs of abnormalities and illness. They will look at body parts including the vulva, ovaries, cervix, uterus, and bladder. The doctor will also insert a metal device called a speculum into the vagina. The test may be a little bit uncomfortable and the speculum may feel cold, but it won’t be painful.
Your doctor may also do other tests such as check for STDs or perform a Pap smear. A pap smear is a gentle and pain-free test in which your doctor will scrape cells from your cervix to test for cervical cancer. For women who fall somewhere between 21- and 30-years-old, the test is usually performed every three years. For those above 30, the time period between tests may be longer.
Should I Shave or Wax Before My Appointment?
It’s not necessary to shave or wax around the vagina before your first visit to a gynecologist. However, you’ll want to shower that day, using a gentle soap to maintain proper vaginal hygiene.
Will the Doctor Keep Everything Confidential?
Conversations that take place during your visit will be kept confidential for patients who are older than 18. For patients younger than 18, some information may be shared with parents or guardians at your doctor’s discretion.
Is it OK to Ask Questions?
It is definitely OK to ask questions when you visit a gynecologist, in fact it’s encouraged. No topic is too weird to discuss so don’t hold back from voicing concern or seeking answers.
Should I Follow Up?
If your doctor performs tests during your visit, you’ll want to follow up about a week later to check results. With some doctors you’ll simply call the office, while with others you can check results within an online portal.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.