Visiting a new doctor for the first time can be a little scary, since you don’t know the physician or what to expect at your appointment. For young women in particular, seeing a gynecologist for the first time can be even more intimidating.
As a woman, it’s important that you keep up with your reproductive health throughout your lifetime—a journey that usually begins in your teens, anywhere from 13-15 years old. Knowing what might happen and how to prepare for your first trip to the OBGYN will help make your experience more positive and less stressful!
1) It’s okay to be nervous.
The first thing to know before you visit a gynecologist for the first time, is that it’s okay to be nervous about it! Any experience that is new and personal in this way can be scary. The important thing to remember though, is that you have nothing to worry about.
You may also find it helpful to talk to a parent, trusted friend or family member, or even your doctor at the beginning of your appointment to put you at ease.
2) Prepare ahead of time.
You’ll feel a lot more confident about your first OBGYN appointment if you walk in knowing why you’re there.
The reason for your visit doesn’t have to be anything more than to just start a good relationship with your gynecologist; but knowing the purpose of your visit can help you anticipate how it’s going to go.
Write down any questions or concerns you’d like to discuss with the doctor and bring them to your appointment. You don’t want to forget to bring anything up, which might happen if you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed. Feel free to ask or discuss anything you’d like to know about birth control, sex, your reproductive health, menstrual cycle, etc.
3) If you’re under 21, you won’t need a pelvic exam or Pap smear.
Your first gynecologist appointment might be nothing more than a 20-30-minute conversation with your doctor. They will likely perform a general exam to check your height, weight, blood pressure, and for any health problems you might have. It is also important for you to know that you do not need to have any exams in order to get birth control!
In some cases, if you’re over 21 at your first appointment, sexually active, or have other reproductive health concerns, your doctor will perform a pelvic exam and/or Pap smear test. It’s a good idea to know what that might entail, in case it applies to you.
What to Expect if you Need a Pelvic Exam:
There are typically three parts to a pelvic exam. The first is an external exam of the vulva. The doctor may use a mirror so you can see, or you may ask that they use one—this is a good opportunity to learn about your reproductive organs.
Following the external exam is a vaginal and cervical exam. Your physician will insert a speculum into the vagina to get a better view and, if you’re also having a Pap smear, collect a sample of cells to check for abnormalities. Finally, the doctor will perform a bimanual exam, in which they insert two fingers into the vagina to check your uterus and ovaries to ensure they’re healthy.
During a pelvic exam, you will likely feel a little pressure, cramping, or discomfort, but it should not be painful.
4) Be honest with your doctor.
The most effective way to develop a good relationship with your gynecologist and get effective reproductive health treatment is to be open and honest starting from the very first visit!
Don’t be afraid of giving full disclosure about your medical history, menstrual cycle, sexual activity, and more. Everything you say is confidential, and your doctor is not there to judge you.
Be sure to mention any mood changes, heavy bleeding, or abnormal pain or cramping you may experience during your cycle. Be completely honest about your sexual history and activity as well, to ensure you and your doctor take all the right steps to address your sexual health.
5) You’re in control.
Among all the advice and tips you’ll find on the Internet and hear from other women about your first visit to the gynecologist, your biggest takeaway should be that you are always in control. If you’re uncomfortable with your doctor or something that’s happening at your appointment, speak up! You can put a stop to anything you’re not okay with and ask your doctor any questions or for any explanations.
You can even bring someone—your mom, a relative, a friend, a nurse—into the room with you for support. You can also always have them wait outside during your exam.
If you need to make an appointment for your first gynecology exam, South Avenue Women’s Services is happy to provide confidential and compassionate care to meet your needs! We offer routine gynecology exams and Pap smear testing in a safe environment with a professional, experienced staff.
Give us a call at 585-271-3850 to book your appointment or speak with a medical professional to address any questions or concerns about your reproductive wellness!