I remember the first time I visited a gynaecologist. I had developed a vaginal infection and it hurt to even pee. Honestly, even now, a decade later, I still feel the experience was worse than the pain. The entire process was so uncomfortable (in my head) and what added to it were people making such a big deal about me having to visit a gynaecologist, I didn’t go back for another two years.
While my experience certainly goes up on the uncomfortable gyno experience storyboard – from being subjected to an uncomfortable test which was administered in the presence of two male nurses to being forced to get on the pill – here are five things I wish someone had told me so that my experience was comfortable and helpful instead of scary and scarring.
The only times I went to one in my 20s was when I had a seeming “problem”. Vaginal infection, irregular periods… all my problems went to the gynaecologist’s table. However, I wish I knew that it is okay to go visit one just to check if everything is okay. We associate going to a gynaecologist with such negative thoughts and uncomfortable experience. From “You have a vaginal infection. Wow, are you having sex already?” to “Why are you visiting? Planning a baby?” I’ve heard it all.
Doctors recommend that girls should have their first gynecologic visit between the ages of 13 years and 15 years. Once you are over 21 it is advisable to visit one at least twice a year and line up regular checkups. So there you go.
I mean you are lying there with your pants down and your legs wide open – of course, it’s awkward. But guess what: gynaecologists see a lot of vaginas on a daily basis and they don’t really care all that much about yours. Also while it’s great to go clean shaven down there before your visit, it’s okay if you don’t as well. Trust me, that’s the last thing your gyno is worried about. Just lie there and let her do what she knows best.
Like any other doctor, your gyno is going to ask you a lot of questions and you need to answer truthfully. The last thing on your doc’s mind is judgement so go on tell her about that crazy thing you did one night in college that you’d rather not tell anyone about. She’ll tell you if that was safe or not!
I totally wish I knew this beforehand. My gynaecologist was adamant on putting me on birth control pills claiming it was “the only way to have a healthy sex life”. I really wish I knew that I could say no and ask her for other alternatives. Remember no matter what the doctor prescribes, it’s your body and you get to take the final call.
There is going to be a level of discomfort associated with the tests, however, everything else is meant to make you feel at ease. Right from the questions the gyno asks you to the people present in the room while you are being checked, you get to choose. I was checked while there were two male nurses in the room and that certainly didn’t help me relax. I wish I had asked them to leave but I was afraid that my doc would think I was being stupid. I certainly wish my gynecologist had explained why they needed to be in the room – because I certainly couldn’t see why. So if something feels odd or makes you uncomfortable, speak up and tell your doctor about it.
At the end of the day, it is okay to feel nervous before your first visit. As long as you are comfortable with your doctor and able to talk to her you are good.