I’m going to the gynecologist for the first time and I’m nervous. What should I expect? Is there anything your doctor wants you to know before you go? Should I do anything to prepare?
Going to the gynecologist for the first time can definitely be intimidating – even seeing your general practitioner can be scary, and you don’t need to get naked for that! Contemplating an office visit where you’re not only naked, but laying under a thin paper gown with your legs spread and a metal instrument going into your vag while a stranger puts her/his fingers there is nerve-wracking, but trust me: it sounds a lot worse than it is. Going to the gyno is never a walk in the park or something you look forward to, but it is (usually) quick and less painful than you think. Seriously! But, to soothe your nerves a bit more, I went to my friend Dr. Sherry Ross for advice. She’s from the site HelloFlo (a monthly period package you need in your life ASAP). She’s also a real doctor, meaning she can tell you exactly what to expect and how to prepare.
Dr. Ross said, “I hope this information will ease your nerves and even motivate you to make your first gyno appointment. It’s recommended that girls ages 13-15 years see their gynecologist to start and build a relationship to discuss sexually transmitted infection screening, prevention, and other health care advice.”
So what will the appointment be like? Dr. Ross says, “The good news is your first visit may be only a conversation and/or an external examination to make sure everything is normal with your female parts. Unless you are sexually active or have vaginal discharge or other complaints down south, you will not need an internal pelvic exam. A pap smear testing for cervical cancer involves an internal exam and does not start until you are 21 years old.” Great news! Most people are worried about the gyno because they’re scared of the pap smear (which involves a cold medical instrument going into your vagina and scraping your cervix) or worried about having a stranger, even a doctor, peering around down there. But if you aren’t sexually active, you might not even need to take your clothes off!
Even if you are sexually active and your doctor needs to do a pelvic exam, it’s not as bad as you might imagine. The doctor will have you strip down privately and put on a paper gown. When he/she comes back in, they will check around down there to see how everything looks. This doesn’t take very long at all, and they usually have a conversation with you while they’re down there to make things less awkward. Plus, since they’re a medical professional, you tend to feel a little less uncomfortable with the whole thing.
What do you need to keep in mind? Dr. Ross says, “The most important part of making your first gyno appointment is to develop an open and honest relationship with your gynecologist. There is nothing to worry about if you are in the capable hands of a doctor who regularly sees first timers.” You have to learn how to talk to your gyno honestly. Don’t lie to him/her about your sexual experience or how you feel down there. If you can’t be honest, there’s no point in even going, because then they can’t really help you. So, the most important thing to remember is this: you have to tell the truth. And don’t worry – thanks to doctor/patient confidentiality agreements, your doctor can’t tell your mom what you say behind closed doors.
At the end of the day, here’s the truth: the gyno is, and always will be, a little awkward. But it is also fast and doesn’t always involve pain (and even if it does, it’s not that bad), and it’s helpful. So, take a deep breath, relax, and get through it. You’ll be okay!