7 Questions You Need To Ask Your Gynecologist Before You Turn 18

If you’ve never been, your first trip to the gynecologist’s office can be intimidating for more than a few reasons. It’s just a doctor’s visit, sure, but it’s a doctor’s visit that marks a notable shift in your body and appearance. It also might be the first time you’re waiting for your appointment in a real, grown-up waiting room and not the one with toys and animal cutouts on the wall. And, uh, there’s that whole speculum thing, too.

With any–or all!–of these circumstances at hand, it might be easy to feel so intimidated that you forget why you even decided to visit a gynecologist in the first place, meaning that you forget to ask a single one of the questions you’d planned and you simply show up, nod along to what they have to say, and shuffle out a few minutes later. Or, it’s possible that you might feel a little awkward about asking some of the questions you have–what if it’s weird? What if they laugh at you? What if they kick you out? They, uh, won’t. So, check out these questions that every girl needs to ask the gyno:

When Do I Need To See A Gynecologist For The First Time?

Okay, technically this is a pre-visit question, but it's an important one. Most doctors suggest switching from a pediatrician to a gyno when you turn eighteen or start becoming sexually active. You can also go earlier, if you want--having a vagina can be weird AF, even if you're not eighteen or sexually active yet, and it can be nice to have someone to help guide you through the process. Do some research beforehand so you can find a gyno that suits you.

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What Are You About To Do?

Most gynos will walk you through their checkup process, but if you're feeling extra nervous you can definitely ask for a little more of an explanation. In any case, each visit varies, but chances are good that you will have about four types of examinations during your checkup. You will definitely have a general physical examination (measuring your weight, height, and blood pressure) and a breast examination (in which your doctor will check your breasts with their fingers to see if there are any abnormal lumps or discharge). You may also get a Pap smear (the scraping off of cells from the cervix to check for abnormal cells) and a pelvic examination (checking the inside of the vagina by placing your feet in stirrups an using a speculum to open it up and check for STDs and assess the womb, cervix, and ovaries). Some doctors wait until the patient is in their later twenties to do a Pap smear, however, and almost never do a pelvic examination unless you've had sex or are experiencing certain kinds of symptoms in the vagina.

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Why Does My Vagina Smell Like ____?

Got a weird smell down there? Ask about it! Chances are good that it's nothing in particular--all vaginas smell a little bit--but weird vagina smells can sometimes be indicative of illness. Either way, it's a good way to stay informed and put your mind at ease.

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What Kind Of Birth Control Is Right For Me?

If you're having sex--or thinking about starting soon--you need to be on some type of birth control. Ask your doctor what they've prescribed in the past and what they recommend for you, based on what they know. You can also ask for more details about each type of birth control if you're still not totally sold on one--a lot of people want to know if the birth control pill will make them gain weight, for example, or if an IUD will cause extra cramping or pain.Now's your time, so go ahead and ask.

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Why Does ____ Happen When I Have Sex?

If sex feels painful or uncomfortable in general for you, that's not something that you just have to accept. Anything that's happening during sex that you're not super into--whether it's pain (which is more common than you probably think, since one-third of women experience pain during sex), lack of orgasm, or anything in between--is a question that you can definitely ask your gyno. They can help you figure out a solution.

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How Can I Prevent Cramps?

Asking on ways to deal with period cramps might seem frivolous, but it's really not. Anything from a slight twinge to deep ache whenever you get your period is a valid thing to bring up. Plus, this is unlikely, but your cramps could be symptomatic of a larger issue at hand, like endometriosis cysts in the ovaries. Even though this is probably not the case, your doctor can help put your mind at ease.

Image source: iStock

How Do I Keep My Vagina Clean?

Apparently, a lot of people want to know the answer to this question, so chances are good that it's been on your mind at some point too. Different gynecologists have varying answers for this (some say you shouldn't clean it, others say you can clean it with soap and water), but your gyno will be able to give you a good answe based on what they know about you. (Also: Don't douche. Never douche. But you know that already.)

Image source: iStock

Have you visited a gynecologist before? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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