10 Things Your OB/GYN Wants You to Know
The hospital gown, the stirrups, the questions about your cycle and sex life. I get it. There can be a lot of anxiety that comes with your annual OB/GYN visit. And while that visit can be uncomfortable, it’s important. Even more important is a healthy relationship with your provider.
It all starts by asking questions. But how many times have you left an appointment wishing you would have asked something you didn’t? How many times have you failed to ask something simply because you were too embarrassed?
Hopefully this list will serve as a starting point. Not only in addressing some of the questions you may have, but also in creating more trust and openness. I’m not here to pass judgement, but rather provide the best care and treatment possible.
1. If you’re 21 or older and haven’t seen me yet, it’s time.
The desire to start birth control tends to bring in a lot of women. But your first Pap smear should be done at the age of 21, regardless of when you become sexually active.
2. I will ask questions that may make you uncomfortable.
Most physicians do. But I will specifically ask about topics you may consider private – topics you may have never discussed with anyone. And while I certainly don’t think you’d intentionally withhold useful information, it’s natural to sometimes leave out details you feel are insignificant. Trust me: Any and all details could impact your care.
3. There is one thing I absolutely must know.
Are you sexually active? Sex can impact your health in a variety of ways. For example, it’s possible to have an STD and not even know it. If left untreated, it can cause further health problems – in some cases, infertility. If I know you’re sexually active, I can offer STD testing and give you the best advice for your particular situation.
4. Ditch the douches and similar products.
The vagina is “self-cleaning.” It doesn’t need anything extra to make it clean. A mild, fragrance-free soap and water to the outside is sufficient for hygiene. Some women feel best if they can wash after using the restroom. Using fragrance-free wipes are fine (don’t flush them), but I definitely recommend avoiding sprays, douches and other similar products available in stores.
5. It’s OK to see me when you’re on your period.
No need to cancel your appointment. Most exams can still be done. Menstruation does not interfere with STD testing, ultrasounds and, in most cases, Pap smears.
6. Speaking of your period – some symptoms are normal. Some aren’t.
Every woman has some symptoms during her cycle, but how disruptive they are to you is very subjective. If you’re missing work and life events, for example, what you’re experiencing is not normal. Menstrual cycles should not be disabling. We can talk about treatment options available.
7. I’m actually OK with you doing a Google search before our visit.
I know. You don’t hear this often from doctors, but you’re always welcome to do your own research before coming to me with an idea of what you think may be happening. I appreciate you taking initiative in your health care. I do, however, want to provide you with my expertise from formal medical training and practice. I’ll even give you more online resources so you can continue to learn on your own after your visit.
8. I don’t care whether you practice any grooming habits – really!
Whether you choose to shave, wax or do nothing at all before your appointment, I’m not even thinking about it. Hair removal techniques, including laser hair removal, really depend on your skin type and personal preference. None are necessary, but most are not dangerous.
9. I do have an opinion on piercings.
I don’t recommend them. I think piercings can lead to long-term disfiguration and painful intercourse if scarring occurs.
10. There’s no “one size fits all” in terms of how often you should see me.
Most women should come see me every year, but this can depend on several factors including age and health history. You should, however, be tested for sexually transmitted diseases with each new partner.
Have you thought of another question? Let's talk. I want to address all your concerns.
Is it time to schedule an exam? Make an appointment with a Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center OB/GYN provider today.