Your first gynecologist appointment can be a nerve wracking and potentially embarrassing experience. While most of us will have spent the majority of our adult lives trying to avoid being seen naked, at a gynecologist appointment we are now required to allow someone we've never met to examine our most private areas in detail.
Not all of us are entirely confident about how our private parts look, and some people will even find it difficult getting naked in front of their partners. At the same time there is the knowledge that this is health procedure, and many people are understandably concerned that the gynecologist could find something and that this might have implications for us. This all makes a gynecologist appointment, and particularly the first one, a very nerve wracking experience.
You may be unsure to go about your first gynecologist appointment – do you need one? Is there anything special you need to do? And what should you expect?
Words of Comfort
While this might feel like a terribly invasive and socially awkward experience, it is important to understand that it will only be awkward if you make it that way. Your gynecologist will do this as a living, and will be intimately familiar with the female anatomy. If you concern comes from being shy about your vaginal region, then it can help to bear in mind that your gynecologist will have seen so many that nothing is likely to surprise them. Vaginas come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes and you'd be surprised at what a variety they are used to seeing.
If you just act normal then you will find that it is surprisingly normal feeling, and in reality it is no different from having a tooth or eye exam. At the end of the day though the fact of the matter is that this is a highly important medical exam that will help you to avoid serious health issues. It doesn't last long so the only course of action is to grin and bear it. If you don't talk much then they will understand and you can get out of there as soon as the inspection is over.
What to Expect
When you head to the gynecologist for the first time you will discuss with a nurse or the gynecologist your health issue and any concerns you might have. You will also be checked for your weight and blood pressure, before being given a gown and a sheet to wear.
Next you will have a breast exam – and this is also part of a gynecologist's job. This way they can check for any unusual lumps or changes to the skin. After this comes the part that you may have been dreading – the 'pelvic exam'. Here you sit in an exam chair with stirrups to keep your legs open. They will sit at the end of the table and do the following:
• Inspect the vulva.
• Insert a speculum in order to inspect the vagina and cervix.
• Insert two fingers into the vagina with another hand on the stomach to feel the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
• They may then take cells from the cervix in what is called a pap smear. This is not painful.
• If you have concerns regarding STIs, the gynecologist can then take samples from the vagina and/or a blood test.
Following this you will have a discussion with the gynecologist who will talk to you about anything they found or give you the all clear. Results from the pap smear/STI tests can take around a week. They may also prescribe you with medication.
Before a visit to the gynecologist you should avoid having vaginal intercourse, using vaginal creams or suppositories for between 24-48 hours prior. This is important as a way to avoid your vagina being unpleasant for the gynecologist and to avoid interfering with the examination – much as you would brush your teeth and avoid garlic before visiting a dentist.
You should also take the time to note anything that has been worrying you and to consider if you have any other relevant information such as medication or family history.
Who Should Go?
The following are all causes to make an appointment with a gynecologist:
• If you have any concerns regarding the appearance of your vagina, pain or other aspects.
• If you have unusual bleeding or irregular periods.
• If you are under 21 when you become sexually active.
• If you stop having periods.
• If you suspect or know that you're pregnant.
• If you are unable to get pregnant.
• When you get your first mammogram referral between the ages of 40 and 50.
• After menopause.
• To learn about birth control.
• If you are concerned about STIs.