As a woman, an annual gynecological exam is just part of life. It’s an annual ritual that helps to keep you healthy and identify potential issues early on.
To put it bluntly: an interesting chat, then an exam. Your OBGYN doctor will want to know all about you before beginning an examination. You will discuss a wide range of uncomfortable topics, including the age at which you got your first period, sexual activity and history, family health history, the Pap smear procedure, and what kind of tests they may need to run and what those entail. All of this can be a bit awkward or overwhelming, but just relax and be honest – remember, this is your doc’s area of specialty and they are here to help you stay healthy, so the more they know, the better.
From there, the exam begins. You will have to undress completely and put on a robe. The doctor will perform a pretty extensive exam which may include checking your neck for Thyroid issues, a breast exam, and a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, your doctor will feel your internal organs using 1-2 fingers inside the vagina and one hand on top of the belly, in the pubic region. The doctor may also examine your cervix using a speculum to hold the walls of the vagina apart and possibly take a specimen with a swab. It is important to relax during this exam. It may be uncomfortable, but is certainly should not be painful. Relaxation methods for this exam include slow, deep breathing, allowing your legs to relax open as far as possible, and not clenching your buttocks.
It’s good to know ahead of time what you should talk with your OBGYN Doctor about at your appointment. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are an uncomfortable, but necessary topic that will most certainly come up. It is important for your overall health that you speak with your doctor openly and honestly about this subject, as awkward as it might be. Be sure to bring up any aches, pains or concerns you may have, but also include important details like the frequency and severity of your symptoms. Also, never hesitate to call your OBGYN outside of your annual gynecological exam if you are having any issues at all, including non-gynecological issues. It is not uncommon for women to see their gynecologist for overall women’s health and no one else. Some doctors and their staff can even screen you over the phone to determine if an office visit is necessary. Either way, your gynecologist is an essential part of any woman’s healthcare team, and knowing what to expect at the gynecologist’s office can be really helpful.