If you are on the verge of scheduling your first appointment with a gynecologist, you might be wondering what to expect. We understand! This first visit can be very intimidating—and for some, anxiety and concern can be enough to avoid that uber-important appointment altogether, and we don’t want that!
Dr. Evans is a board-certified OBGYN in Houston and has been practicing gynecology for nearly 20 years. To her, how her patients receive their treatment matters the most. Her skill, experience, trust, and personal attention guide every appointment—especially a patient’s first. To prepare you for your first appointment with your gynecologist, Dr. Evans wants to help by giving you 11 things you should know or expect beforehand.
1. It’s okay to be a little anxious about your appointment.
Every gynecologist understands (or should understand) that a first visit can be an intimidating thing. Many of the patients Dr. Evans sees for the first time express anxiety about the visit. And it’s okay to be a little nervous—these appointments are personal and involve the most private areas of your body. However, she has found that much of this stems from either misinformation or confusion about what actually occurs during gynecology appointments. If you are feeling anxious about your first appointment, let your gynecologist know. Most doctors are careful to fully explain what will happen during the appointment before doing anything. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, ask your doctor to stop.
2. Be open and honest with your gynecologist.
If you are nervous or anxious, tell your doctor. If you are sexually active, tell your doctor. If you are concerned you have an infection, tell your doctor. See where we’re going with this? It is important that you are open and honest with your gynecologist about everything, so they can provide you with safe and effective care. Remember, anything you tell your gynecologist is private and protected by privacy laws, so you should feel safe and comfortable talking to your doctor about your fears, questions, and concerns.
3. Write down your questions ahead of time.
This is a good habit for women of any age. Writing down the questions you want to ask your doctor beforehand will help you remember to discuss every last thing that has popped into your head in the days leading up to your appointment. And don’t be shy! No question is too intimate or shocking to your doctor. You should always feel comfortable asking your gynecologist your questions. We assure you, it won’t be the first time they’ve heard it, and you deserve to know the truth about the things that concern you or that you are just plain curious about.
4. If you are anxious about your first appointment, you can bring someone with you.
Remember, this first appointment with your gynecologist should not be one that breeds fear. And if you’re worried or nervous about it, consider bringing someone you trust with you to the appointment. It could be your mother, your sister, your aunt, or even a trusted friend. If you want, your companion can stay with you during your exam, but remember, as a general rule, there is always another female assistant in the room if a pelvic exam is required. This provides protection for both patient and doctor. Gynecologists like Dr. Evans want every patient to feel safe, comfortable, and in control of their care and appointment, empowering them to make the most suitable choices for their individual needs.
5. First appointments are not all the same.
Oftentimes, patients expect that their first appointment with a gynecologist will require a pelvic exam and a whole host of tests. However, what you can expect from your first appointment will depend on your age and your specific needs and concerns. If you are experiencing a gynecological health concern, chances are you will need to have a pelvic exam. However, if you are merely interested in discussing sexual health, birth control, or you are interested in getting the facts about what your vagina should look like, how it should smell, or what your periods should be like, then you will likely not need any exams or tests at your first appointment.
6. If you are under the age of 21, you are not required to have a pelvic exam.
It is a misconception that every appointment with a gynecologist involves a pelvic exam. In truth, if you are under the age of 21, you don’t necessarily need a pelvic exam. If you are not having any issues or problems from a gynecological perspective, you will likely be able to just talk with your gynecologist. If you have questions about sexual health or gynecological health, don’t be afraid to schedule a consultation with your doctor. It is important that you know the facts about things like sex and your vagina instead of relying on rumors or ideas from your friends or social media. If you are in the Houston area, call Dr. Evans for a consultation. She is a gynecologist focused on both sexual health and aesthetics, which means she is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to these topics.
7. If you want to get on birth control, a pelvic exam is not required.
If you are interested in birth control but have been hesitant to make an appointment with a gynecologist for fear of a pelvic exam, set aside those worries now. You can talk to your doctor and receive a prescription for birth control without having a pelvic exam. Your doctor will need to discuss your sexual habits with you to help you know when the right time would be to start your contraception, as a negative pregnancy test might be required if you want to start your prescription right away.
8. If a pelvic exam is required, this is what you can expect.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are three parts to a pelvic exam. Your gynecologist will first perform an external exam to check that your labia, clitoris, and the opening of your vagina look healthy and normal. The next part of a pelvic exam is a vaginal and cervical exam. To do this, your doctor will use a speculum, which is inserted into the vagina and slightly expanded to allow the doctor to fully see the vaginal walls and cervix. While the speculum is inserted, your doctor will then perform a pap smear test by carefully sampling the cervix with a soft brush to collect samples, which will be checked for sexually transmitted infections and abnormal changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer. And finally, your doctor will check your reproductive organs. He or she will do this by inserting one or two fingers into the vagina while simultaneously applying gentle pressure to your lower abdomen to check that your uterus and ovaries are healthy. While there are three separate parts to this process, the good news is that the entire exam will take approximately 2-3 minutes to complete!
9. If you are on your period the day of your scheduled appointment, call your doctor to reschedule.
Don’t worry—your doctor isn’t afraid of a little blood. However, when it comes to pelvic exams, blood can make the process a bit messy. Additionally, being on your period can cause inaccurate results for your pap smear and possibly disguise other underlying issues. Beyond the pelvic exam, your breasts will likely be more sensitive during your period, so your breast exam might be more uncomfortable than it would at another time. And don’t worry about rescheduling! Your doctor will understand and be happy to take care of finding a time that works better so you can have an optimal experience and accurate results from your exam, although individual experiences may vary.
10. Shaving or waxing isn’t necessary.
How your vagina looks should not be a concern. Everyone is unique, and your gynecologist knows that. Again, they’ve seen it all, so whether you wax or shave before your appointment truly does not matter to your doctor. It’s your personal preference. The purpose of your exam is to evaluate your medical health. Normal daily bathing is appropriate.
11. You don’t need to have a gynecological concern or condition to schedule your first appointment with your gynecologist.
It’s a good idea to start seeing a gynecologist before you need medical treatment. In fact, many doctors recommend girls between the ages of 13-15 start visiting their gynecologist for yearly consultations in order to develop a solid, trusting doctor-patient relationship. Even if you are past this age but you have yet to have your first exam, call your gynecologist to set up a time to talk and discuss any concerns or questions you have. You don’t need a medical reason—your gynecologist wants you to be healthy, and information is the first step in making sure that happens.
Hopefully, this list has helped prepare you for your first gynecological appointment. If you have any other questions or concerns that were not covered here, do not hesitate to call your gynecologist—they will be happy to answer any questions you have. If you are located in the Houston area, consider contacting Dr. Evans for your initial appointment. Under her care, you can be assured that your well-being, safety, and comfort are her foremost priorities.
You can reach her office by calling (281) 277-7721 today!