Discover five tips that can help you prepare for your next visit to help maximize the experience for the benefit of your good health.
More than half of all women consider their gynecologists to be their primary care providers and rely on them as their main sources of care.* That means for the majority of women, an annual gyno visit might very well be the only contact they have with a physician all year.
Considering its importance, women should take every opportunity to make the most of their appointments. Here are five tips that can help you prepare for your next visit and maximize the experience to the benefit of your good health.
Most doctors agree that the best time to undergo an exam is mid-cycle, a week or two after your period. Your breasts aren't as swollen then, making exams and mammograms a little easier for your providers (and a lot more comfortable for you).
Moreover, the absence of blood makes it easier for a Pap smear to detect the possibilities of cancer, precancerous cells, infections or sexually transmitted diseases. If you're seeing a doctor because of a vaginal discharge problem, the presence of blood can also interfere with tests.
On the other hand, if your problem is irregular or heavy bleeding, your doctor may prefer to see you while you're on your period.
When it's time for your appointment and that time of the month hits, call your doctor's office to determine the best course of action.
Also, never worry about shaving your legs or pruning your "ladyscape." Doctors don't look to see whether or not you've shaved your legs and waxing your bikini area or trimming your pubic hair isn't necessary or recommended. Waxing is particularly risky as it can cause ingrown hairs or lead to bacterial infections. Remember, pubic hairs are there for good reason—to protect the sensitive genital area.
Before your next visit, summarize any problems and write down all your questions in advance. Then take your notes in with you and ask your most important questions at the beginning of your visit.
While you're at it, write down the first and last days of your most recent period, list any menstrual symptoms you want to discuss with your physician, and record any medications, over-the-counter supplements, vitamins and herbs you're taking. Then keep your notepad handy to jot down answers and other helpful information your doctor shares during your visit.
Most importantly, tell your doctor if there's been a change in your sexual relationship or if you suspect your partner of having multiple partners. Screenings for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) may not be a standard part of your annual visit. But by honestly sharing concerns about sexual activities, your doctor can conduct the necessary screenings to give you peace of mind. If you don't feel comfortable being open and honest, it might be time to find a new doc.
Remember it's your body and your responsibility to care for it.
*American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Before going to your first appointment, learn more about what you can expect and how you can prepare.Learn More
Learn more about why vaginal and reproductive health is just as important as any other aspect of your physical wellness.Learn More
Learn the signs your body is giving you so you know when an irregular period is more than the body making a normal adjustment.Learn More
This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.
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