Visit To Gynecologist – Are You Asking All The Important Questions?
Gynecologist is a doctor who has specialized in the female reproductive health. Some gynecologists are referred as “ob-gyn” (obstetrician-gynecologists), which means that these healthcare professionals underwent training to treat women from adolescence to pregnancy and child delivery. Many people don’t know what to expect from their visit to the gynecologist or what kind of examination/screening will be done, which makes them nervous or uncomfortable. One should stay calm and use this ob-gyn visit as an opportunity to learn about their reproductive health. Through gynecological screening you may:
- Learn how to prevent against sexually transmitted diseases
- Get screened for possible STDs/STIs
- Learn about different birth control methods in order to choose the best option that is most suitable for you and your partner
- Get screened for reproductive organ cancers
- Annual pelvic examination
- Learn about human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines
- Learn how to take care of yourself and baby during pregnancy
How Frequently Should You See Your Gynecologist?
Now the question arises, when to see a gynecologist? Here are some basic guidelines. It is important to speak to a healthcare professional in order to make the right decision.
- At age of 21
- Below 21 if you are sexually active
- Pregnant or in doubt of being pregnant
- Problem in conceiving
- No menstrual period for 3months or more
- Pelvic pain
- Women aging between 40 to 50 should get their mammogram referral to rule out breast cancer suspicion
- Referrals for bone density screening after reaching menopause
How To Prepare Yourself For A Gynecological Visit?
- 24 to 48 hours prior to examination, avoid having vaginal sex, do not use vaginal suppositories, douches, and creams.
- Note down all problems that need to be discussed with gynecologist.
- Bring list of all medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements taken so that gynecologist can review it and make decisions accordingly.
- Gather information about your family’s reproductive health history.
What To Expect?
When visiting a gynecologist, following things should be expected:
Health history: Upon visiting gynecologist, the nurse or assistant would take personal and family health history. This history may include questions such as drinking habits, smoking, drugs, and sexual lifestyle. Some people might not like giving answers as they are too personal questions but, everything shared is confidential and is used for health purposes only.
Measuring vital signs: Nurse will measure weight, blood pressure and other vital signs.
Pre-screening: Pre-screening requires removal of all clothes and undergarments. For covering, a gown is given which will be open from front along with a sheet to cover your legs.
Pre-screening Discussion: Before starting examination, gynecologist explains the process and asks about patient’s concerns. This is the best time to clear all doubts or questions in mind.
Breast screening: To detect abnormal lumps or unusual changes in skin and tissues, gynecologist uses fingers in a specific pattern on breast and nipples.
Pelvic examination: Pelvic examination is pain-free but it can be uncomfortable for people either because of instruments used or embarrassment of being exposed. It involves visual screening of vagina, vulva, and cervix for which patient is laid on table with legs apart. The gynecologist will insert two fingers in vagina and place other hand on abdomen to examine fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. For collection of samples from cervix, an instrument called speculum is inserted inside the vagina so that it is slightly stretched and sample can be taken easily.
Pap smear: This test is conducted for screening precancerous changes in cells of cervix.
STD screening: On patient’s request or doctor’s recommendation, STD screening can be done. It may be conducted via blood testing or vaginal samples.
Post-screening Discussion: After screening gynecologist, will discuss all evaluations in detail. If something unusual is detected, patient may be asked for some additional tests such as, blood tests, mammograms, and bone density screening. The results for STD screening and pap smear test won’t be available immediately but, if any medication including birth control is required, doctor may write prescription. Patient may ask questions during this discussion.
Although, gynecological examination sounds little discomforting and a person may feel shy but, think about your health!