Once a girl goes through puberty and gets her period, it’s essential to see a gynecologist regularly. Not only will the doctor perform an exam to ensure her reproductive system is healthy, but they can also answer questions about birth control, changes in the menstrual cycle, STD prevention and more. Still, many won’t know what to do before a gynecologist visit.
And there’s another problem: Many women — both those who are new to the gynecologist and those who see the visit as old news — don’t like to see the gynecologist, period (Ha, get it?). Even women who’ve had many exams can feel nervous or uncomfortable when stepping into the waiting room. And for a first-timer who’s worried about what’s to come, it can be easy to stew in anxiety. Here are some tips for women in either scenario.
What to Do Before a Gynecologist Visit
If you want to know what to do before a gynecologist visit to ease your anxiety, follow the six tips below.
- Find the Right Gynecologist
The right doctor can make all the difference. If someone is especially nervous, the best thing to do before a gynecologist visit is to look for a specialist known for being friendly and accommodating. Ask a trusted family member or friend for recommendations or search online for reviews of gynecologists in the area.
Someone who is new to the whole experience may not know what makes a gynecologist good. A great doctor is one that listens to concerns and takes them seriously. They’ll lay out all of the facts so women can better understand and decide on the best treatment options.
- Learn More About Yourself
One thing a woman should do before an exam is to learn more about her reproductive system. Understanding the body and how it works is a great way to feel empowered and boost confidence. It will also help her feel more comfortable when communicating with the doctor.
Women should take the time to look at photos and diagrams or even examine themselves with a handheld mirror. Understand how healthy vaginas function and what can be expected as far as odors, sensations, periods and more. Learn about common female reproductive problems and symptoms. The more someone learns about their own body, the less nervous they’ll feel.
- Know What to Expect
If a woman wants to know what to do before a gynecologist visit to ease anxiety, she should learn what to expect. Luckily, she can learn about the steps of an exam without ever having to step foot in the doctor’s office.
Plenty of valuable resources are available online. There’s in-depth information regarding physical exams, screening tests, preventive health and more. By knowing what to expect during an exam, women can feel more at ease when everything goes as planned.
- Keep a Notebook
One important thing to do before an exam is to keep a notebook with concerns and questions. This prevents women from forgetting anything they wanted to bring up during the visit. She can also get more out of her exam by being clear about wants and needs.
A woman might worry about her period being irregular. She might be unsure if she has a yeast infection, perhaps due to unusual discharge. No matter the concerns, it’s OK to voice them to a doctor. It can also help to bring a notebook to the appointment and jot down answers and recommendations.
- Schedule an Early Appointment
Sometimes, sitting in the waiting room can induce more anxiety than the exam itself. So cut the wait by scheduling an appointment several months in advance and requesting the first one of the day. There’s no backlog of patients, and women can typically see the doctor right away.
If a mid-day appointment is unavoidable, take steps to make the wait more tolerable. Women can stimulate their senses by squeezing their fists very tight for a few seconds, then releasing. Deep breathing exercises can calm nerves and regulate the heart rate. Remember, wait times can be unpredictable, so it helps to bring along something like a handheld videogame or book.
- Dress for Maximum Comfort
It’s hard for a woman to feel comfortable while laying on a table with her feet in stirrups. As a not-so-nice bonus, she’ll also be down to just a hospital gown and socks. Make the experience a little better by wearing comfortable clothes that are easy to take on and off. For max undressing ease, wear slip-on shoes that don’t have laces.
One tip for those who are extra nervous and want to know what to do before a gynecologist visit — bring along a pair of knee socks. This is a simple way to cover half the legs and feel a bit more comfortable.
Preparing for a Gynecologist Visit
Many women don’t like to visit the gynecologist. It’s often perceived as awkward, uncomfortable and cold. However, it’s recommended to see one regularly — at least once a year — to discuss any concerns and maintain reproductive health. Luckily, by following the tips above, women can feel more comfortable and confident during the experience.