There are many different ways in which you can maintain your health. Something that is strongly recommended for girls and women is to have regular visits with your gynecologist. Your gynecologist is a specialist doctor who will carefully assess and monitor your gynecological health, flagging up any issues that may develop so that they can be addressed early, hopefully before you experience unpleasant side effects or need invasive or expensive treatment.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that females first see a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15, regardless of whether or not they have started experiencing menstrual cycles. However, not all elements of gynecological care will take place at this time. For example, annual Pap screening tests for cervical cancer typically don’t begin until the age of 21.
If you have never visited the gynecologist before, the prospect can feel a little daunting. Knowing what to expect can help answer any questions that you have and put your mind at ease, making the entire process much less stressful. Here’s what you need to know about what will likely be included in your first visit to the gynecologist.
As its name suggests, this general physical exam is no different to any other type of physical assessment you might have when visiting your family doctor. It will usually include taking height, weight and blood pressure measurements and asking you if you have any concerns about your health. You will also be asked whether you have had any recent diagnoses and if you take any regular medications.
Most gynecologist visits involve asking you to provide a urine sample. This sample can quickly be tested by your gynecologist for any abnormalities that could suggest something like a bladder infection or diabetes. You may be asked to bring a urine sample with you, but in most cases, you’ll be given a paper cup to provide a ‘fresh’ sample when you arrive.
If your first visit to your gynecologist takes place before your 21st birthday, you are highly unlikely to need to have a pelvic exam – unless you are experiencing symptoms or a specific problem that causes your gynecologist to think that one would be beneficial. If you do need an internal pelvic exam, this is done carefully and slowly, using adequate lubrication. We will look at the area around your vagina, as well as inserting two fingers inside and palpating your abdomen to feel your uterus and ovaries for any abnormalities.
Every visit to the gynecologist involves questions – lots and lots of questions! This is because the more information you can provide, the better your gynecologist will be able to understand your health. Some of these questions may seem a little intrusive or embarrassing at first, but it’s important that you answer them as honestly as possible. Some of the questions you may be asked could include:
The date of your past period
How regular your periods are
Whether you experience any PMS symptoms, like mood swings or cramps
Whether you experience any uncomfortable itching or smells from your vagina
If you are sexually active
If you are having sex, what sort of birth control you currently use
If you have attended your appointment accompanied by your parent/guardian, we may ask them to leave the room so that you can talk to us confidentially.
You can make your first visit to the gynecologist easier by being fully prepared. Be sure not to schedule your exam for the middle of your cycle as you should not be menstruating at the time of your appointment. We recommend that for two days prior to your exam you do not:
Use any powders, creams or lubricants
Use tampons or put anything into your vagina
If you have any further questions about what to expect at your first visit to the gynecologist, don’t hesitate to speak to our discreet and friendly women’s health team. Call Partners in Obstetrics & Women's Health in New Lenox, IL at 815-240-0554 today to schedule an appointment.