Talking about genitals is awkward. You don’t often come across conversations about STDs, or discharge, or sexual lifestyles. But people need to realize all of the above are totally normal.
So no need to feel ashamed. Checking your reproductive health is just as important as checking your teeth. Women’s bodies are different from men’s, so it’s essential we take proper care of them and protect ourselves. It’s recommended that women get yearly gynecological exams and STD testing. But what can you expect from your first visit? I recently had my first experience with an OB/GYN, so I’ll be talking about my experience and what you need to know before going to yours. Let’s get started!
What is an OB/GYN?
OB/GYN stands for obstetrics and gynaecology, and it’s the field of medicine that focuses on female reproductive health. Obstetricians work with pregnant women, whilst gynaecologists look at the reproductive system and work on preventive care, such as pap smears, ultrasounds, and pelvic exams.
How can I find a good OB/GYN?
When it comes to finding the right doctor, there are *so* many factors to consider: the specific type of care you need, convenience, the doctor’s experience and manner, your preferences, and whether they accept your healthcare plan.
Before starting the search for an OB/GYN, ask yourself what you need. Do you have any concerns you want to go over? Any questions about something specific, such as birth control? Or do you just need a regular check-up? If you don’t have any major medical conditions and just want a general visit, any doctor with experience works fine. But if you have particular concerns or are high-risk, then a specialist provider is the best option.
How should I schedule my first appointment?
It’s scary to make the first call to the doctor’s office, but all you have to let them know is why you’re calling, what your insurance is, and when you’re available for the appointment. Not sure what you need? Ask if you can talk directly to the doctor. You can also ask more about their experience, build a foundation of trust, and let them know your preferences—such as having a female doctor rather than a male.
What should I expect in a general exam?
As per any doctor’s visit, you’ll get checked in at reception with a form of ID, fill in the paperwork, present your health insurance, and then wait for the call. In a general check-up, some of the procedures you may expect include a mammography, a pelvic exam, and STD testing. It might be uncomfortable, since you’ll be lying naked on a bed—but the doctors’ and nurses’ job is to make sure you’re healthy, and they can’t do it from afar. That’s why it’s important to build trust with your doctor.
Once you’re in, the doctor will typically ask why you’re visiting, and about your health, medical conditions that run in your family, your lifestyle (whether you exercise, are on a particular diet, and whether you’re sexually active), and any medications you’re on, such as birth control. The only way they can do their job properly is if you answer them as honestly as you can.
After a few minutes of Q&A, they’ll begin with a mammography, which means they’ll feel around your breasts for any lumps or signs of breast cancer. Then, they’ll check your vagina by doing an ultrasound and swabbing a sample of your fluid for STD testing. After this, the doctor will complete a pelvic exam. This may all feel uncomfortable, but the best way to make it less awkward is to communicate! Talk to them, ask them how long they’ve been in the field, and so on.
Before I went to my first OB/GYN appointment, I was scared. I didn’t even tell my parents because I was worried what they’d think of me. I had no idea what to expect. After leaving the clinic, however, I felt relieved. The whole process only took 20 minutes, and the doctors were incredibly welcoming and professional.
So if you haven’t done so already, go ahead and make that appointment.