Going to the gynecologist (OBGYN) as an adult is a routine part of staying healthy, but when it is your first visit it can be unnerving unless you know what to expect. These feelings are very common when trying something new. To overcome them, it helps to understand what happens in an exam in order to feel more comfortable with it. Also, remember that your gynecologist is there to help you stay healthy.
“The average woman should visit a gynecologist at least once per year.”
What Age Should I Have My First Gynecological Visit?
Doctors typically recommend that girls have their first gynecological visit around 18 years old, or even younger if you are sexually active and/or have an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s normal to feel apprehensive and nervous, but your doctor should be able to help you feel comfortable. Many OBGYN’s will get to know you more before beginning, establishing rapport and trust. If you are nervous, it is good to let them know directly and they will accommodate you.
What to Expect?
The first exam may just be a conversation with you and the doctor. They should tell you what to expect and how to stay healthy. They may discuss some personal questions about your period and sexual activity. If you are worried about the doctor telling your parents something you don’t want them to hear, don’t worry. Much of these conversations are confidential.
If you do have an exam on your first visit, your doctor should be communicating every step of the exam and why it’s important. If they don’t, ask them to. Typically, there are 2 exams that will be performed in your first few visits: The general physical and pelvic exams.
“Your OBGYN will be someone that you should be able to trust and develop a relationship with. The more they understand what you are going through physically and mentally, the better care they can provide you going forward.”
The General Physical Exam
A general physical is fairly common across all ages and genders. The doctor will examine and measure your height, weight, blood pressure and discuss how you are generally feeling. It may include exams for your eyes, ears, heart, abdomen or any number of health checks that the doctor deems important.
The Pelvic Exam
The pelvic exam includes three steps. First, the doctor will examine your external genitalia, or vulva. Then, using a speculum, he or she will inspect your vagina and cervix. Finally, your physician will check the internal organs with gloved, lubricated fingers while the other hand is pressing on the abdomen. It may be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t cause any pain. It helps to know that this part of the exam is rather quick. Typically, the doctor won’t put you through a full pelvic exam on your first checkup.
What Can I Discuss with My OBGYN?
Your OBGYN should be someone that you should be able to trust and develop a relationship with. The more they understand what you are going through physically and mentally, the better care they can provide you going forward. Sometimes they can be a good outlet to talk about sex and other things that you may be uncomfortable talking about with your parents. You can and should discuss any of the following with your doctor:
- Sexual activity
- Birth control
- Alcohol, drugs, and smoking
- Emotional ups and downs
- Premenstrual symptoms
- Problems with menstrual periods including cramping
Be sure to bring up your concerns with your doctor. It may be uncomfortable to discuss sensitive issues, but your health is no laughing matter.
A Continuum of Healthcare
The entire reason for your first gynecological visit is to set a pattern for healthy living going forward. Get used to regular visits (at least once per year) in order stay on top of any health concerns that may arise. While a change of OBGYN is possible based on life changes, it is best when you continue care with the same person over an extended period of time so that they can have a better understanding of your physical and mental health. This can lead to much better diagnosis should a problem arise.
Choosing a healthcare professional is an important decision. Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A. has been serving the northern Orlando area for over 21 years. If you are interested in a consultation, contact us today.
*This blog is for general informational purposes only. Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A. does not distribute medical advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute a patient-client relationship between the reader and Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A.