As we grow older, our bodies change, meaning our needs change as well. With time, young girls will need to visit an obstetrician-gynecologist, or ob/gyn. These doctors specialize in women’s healthcare.
Doctors suggest that girls attend their first ob/gyn appointment between the ages of 13 and 15.
It’s completely normal to feel nervous about your first visit. Learning a little more about what to expect before your first gynecologist appointment can help put your mind at ease.
Here are nine things you should know before your first appointment. By equipping yourself with this information, you won’t have to worry about any unexpected surprises.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before your first gyno appointment!
1. Understand Why You’re Going
Before you schedule your first appointment, it helps to understand why you’re going to an ob/gyn in the first place.
Our bodies start changing while we’re in our teens. During your first gynecologist appointment, you can ask questions regarding these questions. A few topics to cover include:
- Birth control options
- Testing for sexually transmitted infections
- Period or hormonal issues
Before you head to your first gyno appointment, write out a list of questions. This will help you feel prepared. Having a list in hand will also help you avoid forgetting anything.
By reviewing all of your concerns during your first appointment, you can leave the doctor’s office with peace of mind. This prep can also help you become a better advocate for yourself.
For your first gynecologist appointment, you’ll probably have 20 to 30 minutes to discuss your concerns. Preparing yourself beforehand will help you maximize your time. Instead of letting pre-appointment jitters distract you, writing out your thoughts will help you stay organized.
2. If You’re Under 21…
During your first appointment, a medical professional will note your height, weight, and blood pressure before you see the ob/gyn.
If you’re under 21, however, your doctor likely won’t perform a pelvic exam during your first visit. Were you stressing out about that? Don’t worry!
Your ob/gyn will only perform a pelvic exam if you’re under 21 and:
- Sexually active
- Want STI testing
- Have specific health concerns (abnormal bleeding, painful periods)
If you’re over 21, however, your ob/gyn will probably recommend a pelvic exam and/or Pap test.
During a Pap test, your doctor will swab the lower part of your uterus, or cervix, which connects to your vagina. This will allow them to collect a sample of cervical cells. Then, they’ll send the sample for testing to check for any abnormalities.
A positive test could indicate cervical cancer. Don’t stress, though; it’s treatable and usually rare.
During your first gynecologist appointment, your doctor might also perform a breast exam. Most young women are at low-risk for breast cancer. If you’re not comfortable with a breast exam during your first gyno appointment, let your doctor know.
3. What Happens During a Pelvic Exam
Here’s what to expect if you request a pelvic exam during your first gynecologist appointment:
- An external exam to review your vulva (labia, clitoris, and opening of your vagina)
- A vaginal and cervical exam using a speculum (a device inserted into your vagina to get a better view)
- A bimanual exam to study your reproductive organs
The pelvic exam allows your ob/gun to determine if your uterus and ovaries are healthy.
If you have any questions about your pelvic exam, let your doctor know beforehand. They can walk you through the procedure so you can avoid surprises. The more you know beforehand, the less anxious you’ll feel.
4. Birth Control
You can still ask your doctor to prescribe birth control during your first visit (even without receiving a pelvic exam).
Your ob/gyn will ask questions based on your lifestyle and medical history. They might also ask if you have a preference regarding various birth control options. For example, if you’re forgetful about taking pills, a doctor might recommend an IUD instead.
5. Don’t Worry About Appearances
Don’t worry about pubic hair, the length of your labia, or any other aspects of your body. While you might feel self-conscious, remember: doctors do this for a living. The purpose of your gynecologist appointment is medical.
If you can, shower and rinse your labia with water before your appointment.
6. Prepare to Get Real
Your doctor is going to ask a lot of personal questions regarding your period and sex life, so get ready.
Before you head to your first gyno appointment, make sure you know the first day of your last period. Your ob/gyn might also ask about:
- Heavy bleeding
- Mood changes
Your ob/gyn will also ask about your sexual activity. Remain honest as you answer their questions; otherwise, they won’t have the right information to support your health. Your doctor won’t judge you based on any answers you provide.
7. Know Your History
Understanding your family’s medical history can also help you prepare before your first gyno appointment.
Equip yourself with information about your mother’s health history. You’ll also want to know if your family has a history of blood clots. If you do, your doctor might suggest an alternative to contraception that contains estrogen.
Your doctor will also ask about your personal medical history, including past surgeries and any medications you’re on.
If you’re nervous about your first gynecologist appointment, write all this down beforehand.
8. You’re In Control
Before you even arrive at your first appointment, remember: you’re in control.
Let your ob/gyn know it’s your first time. You can also ask about having a close friend or family member in the room with you if you need support. If you’re nervous about a specific procedure, ask the doctor to explain step-by-step.
9. Schedule Your Next Appointment
Before you leave, make sure to schedule your next appointment. You’ll need a pelvic exam every three years. You can also visit annually for a review or to renew your birth control.
After you leave, expect a call from the doctor’s office with any test results.
Preparing for Your First Gynecologist Appointment: 9 Things to Know
Feeling ready for your first gynecologist appointment? Now you can head in with peace of mind that you’re prepared for anything!
Contact us today to schedule your first gyno appointment!