If you’ve never been to the gynaecologist, scheduling your first appointment can be a bit scary. Even scarier is your fear of the unknown. You’re probably wondering: what exactly will the gynaecologist do during the appointment?
These fears are very normal, but as you must realize, regular visits to your gynaecologist are part and parcel of being the healthiest woman you can be. Experts say that women should start seeing a gynaecologist annually, as soon as they become sexually active, while others state that even if a woman is not sexually active, she should begin scheduling annual gynaecology appointments when she turns 18. However, if there should be any problems with the reproductive system, a girl or woman should see her gynaecologist, no matter her age or her sexual activity status.
Since most of the fear surrounding that first visit is due to not knowing what will be done, we’ve outlined the details here so you can come to your appointment with a calmer frame of mind.
When you arrive at your doctor’s office, the nurse may request blood and urine samples. She will also weigh you and measure your height and blood pressure. Next the doctor will ask about your own and your family’s medical history and about any surgeries you may have had. He’ll ask when you had your first period, when your last period occurred, if your flow is heavy or light, if your periods are long or short, how many days elapse between periods, and what your periods feel like. He will also want to know if you are sexually active.
The doctor will then leave you to change out of your clothes. There may be an examining table that can be curtained off from the rest of the office area. You can pull the curtain closed while you undress. In other cases, the doctor leaves the room, so you have privacy to undress. You’ll be given either a hospital gown or a drape sheet with which to cover your body so you won’t feel self-conscious. You’ll then be asked to sit down on the examining table, where you’ll see stirrups for your feet.
The gloved doctor will feel all around your breasts to check for suspicious lumps. He will also palpate your abdomen. Next, your doctor will look at the outer portion of your genitalia, your vulva. None of these examinations should be painful. However, if you feel pain, you should tell the doctor, since this may be a symptom of a condition.
Next, you will lie down and place your feet into the stirrups. Your doctor will insert a lubricated, small metal instrument called a speculum into your vagina. Sometimes the doctor will first check your vagina with his finger so he can locate the opening of the uterus (cervix) and determine the angle of your vagina. At this time, your doctor may take a Pap smear, which involves swiping the cervix with a spatula or brush. Samples will also be collected to test for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).
None of these procedures are painful, but if you breathe slowly and try to relax, you will eliminate any possible discomfort.
The doctor may then do a bimanual exam. This involves the insertion of two lubricated fingers into the vagina. The doctor’s other hand is placed on your abdomen where he palpates the area to check for swellings or abnormalities.
That’s it! You can get dressed, listen to your doctor’s report of his findings, and ask any questions you may have about your gynaecological health, including birth control questions.
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