Preparing For Your Visit To The Gynecologist
Many women dread gynecological checkups, even though they recognize the importance of these examinations. A woman may fear being touched by a stranger in an intimate part of her body, be frightened something will hurt, worry her anatomy is unusual (dollars to doughnuts, it’s not), or may be unsure she’s prepared properly for the visit. It can help a great deal to have a bit of a checklist of what to do and what not to do before your next visit to the gynecologist.
The first thing you can do to make your visit to the gynecologist smooth-sailing is to arrange your appointment so that you’re not menstruating during your exam. The best possible timing is to schedule your appointment so that it occurs mid-cycle, around two weeks from the start of your menstrual period. In the two days just prior to your appointment, you should avoid having sex, using a douche, or placing anything inside your vagina, such as, for instance, a tampon. During this time, you should start making a list of questions you’d like to ask your gynecologist. For example, it may be time to reassess your chosen method of birth control.
When the day of your appointment arrives, there’s nothing much you need to do to get ready. Take a shower or a bath and clean yourself with soap and water, as you would on any other day. Avoid creams or talcum powder since these may affect the gynecologist’s ability to get a good view of your vaginal area and may also interfere with test results, should tests be performed. It’s a good idea to wear clothing that is easy to remove for your exam and easy to put back on after your checkup. Pantyhose can be tricky, for instance.
Be prepared to answer your doctor’s questions. He is likely to ask about your family history for specific medical conditions and about any past surgeries you may have experienced. The doctor will want to ask questions relating to your menstrual cycle. He may want to know when you experienced your first menstrual period and whether your periods are regular. He may want to know about your menstrual flow: heavy or light, painful or lengthy? Your doctor may also want to know if you are sexually active.
The questions work both ways and once your doctor has finished examining you, feel free to ask whatever you like. If your doctor says something you’re not sure you understand, tell him so and make sure you don’t leave his office until you fully understand his explanations and instructions.