What Should You Expect from a Gynecologist and When to See One?
A doctor who studies specialization in women’s reproductive health is called a gynecologist. Obstetricians are doctors who care for pregnant women and deliver babies. However, an obstetrician-gynecologist is trained for these things.
At what age can I see a gynecologist?
A gynecologist can be visited starting the age of 13 to 15 years. It is very important to build a relationship with your doctor as that will enable you to be more comfortable and ask whatever doubts or questions you might have about menstruation, women’s health, sexuality, etc.
The doctor also gets a chance to advise and guide you about your health and welfare in the long run, through counseling on vital health and lifestyle issues.
When to see a gynecologist?
Ideally, you should visit a gynecologist for annual screening and on other times when you are facing any issues or concerns about symptoms like vulvar, pelvic, or vaginal pain or you’re having abnormal bleeding from the uterus.
Conditions that are commonly treated by gynecologists are:
- Infertility, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause
- Advise in family planning like contraception, sterilization, or pregnancy termination
- Challenges with tissues that back the pelvic organs, like ligaments and muscles
- Sexually-Transmitted Illnesses (STIs)
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOD)
- Urinary and Fecal Incontinence
- Benign conditions in the reproductive tract like any ovarian cysts, fibroids, or issues like breast disorders, vaginal or vulvar ulcers, and other non-cancerous alterations
- Premalignant conditions like endometrial hyperplasia or cervical dysplasia
- Cancer in the reproductive tract or breasts, and any pregnancy-related tumors
- Congenital abnormalities in the reproductive tract
- Any emergency care needed relating to gynecology
- Endometriosis, a chronic condition affecting the reproductive system
- Pelvic inflammatory ailments like abscesses
- Sexuality concerns like health issues associated with same-sex or bisexual relationships
- Sexual dysfunction
Most of the gynecologists in the U.S. offer both gynecological and usual healthcare such as preventive medicine for females and diagnosis and treatment of issues like low back pain, mood swings, acne, etc.
You don’t need to clean up before your appointment
Some patients think that shaving their private parts is necessary before taking an appointment from a gynecologist and getting a check-up done. Vaginal grooming is your personal decision but the main thing before an examination is to simply be clean, hence, using a vaginal hygiene wash or wipe before your visit is advised.
Be prepared for an honest meeting
Patients who are visiting a gynecologist should prepare to be honest, open, and direct about any queries or doubts they may have regarding their health, sexual history, habits, fears, or any concerns that pop up in their minds.
A productive meeting, correct diagnosis, and effective healthcare only happen when there are clear lines of communication and most importantly, trust has been established. You need not worry about your private and confidential information being leaked out.
Your visit to a gynecologist is private, and whatever you discussed during that visit is always protected by privacy laws.
What to expect?
How your appointment goes with the gynecologist would totally depend on why you are visiting and what is your situation or condition.
If you are young and it’s your first visit, you might just have a chat with the gynecologist, clarify your doubts, get some health information, and find out what you can expect in the future.
However, before any visit with a gynecologist, you should remember:
- Be open as an honest account of your concerns, health, and lifestyle will provide the doctor with a clear picture and a better idea of your condition and enable them to assist you more.
- A gynecological examination or check-up, including a pap smear, could be uncomfortable, but generally, it is not painful.
- It is not compulsory to wax or shave before your visit.
- The bodily odor is very natural. In case, it indicates an issue, then the gynecologist needs to know that.
- If you are having your period when your gynecologist appointment is scheduled, you can go ahead with the visit. However, it’s always better to postpone it, unless you have any symptoms or conditions that need urgent attention or if the gynecologist has asked you to visit during the period.
- It is advised to avoid sexual activity, use tampons, or a vaginal douche for at least a couple of days before a gynecological examination.
- It’s always better if you can ask someone close to you to accompany you to the doctor; though that person can either wait in the room or be outside the door.