Making that First OBGYN Exam a More Pleasant Experience

 Emma Kalman
  Oct 01, 2018

Many young women will have their first OBGYN exam while still in their teens, at which stage they are likely to feel embarrassed or even fearful, and certainly less able to ask questions. A recent survey found that nearly 40% of women felt concerned during their first exam about what to expect.

Now, experts are encouraging gynecologists to meet with girls and their parents before that all-important first examination, so that everyone can talk more freely about what will happen and why, and so a young girl can discuss anything that may be concerning her. By the time a young woman is about to receive an examination, they often feel too embarrassed and too uncomfortable to ask any questions. Many are also afraid that the examination will be painful, or even worse that something will be wrong with them. Most have no idea that they could have someone else in the room with them such as a trusted friend or family member.

It is an approach that can help to empower young women, so they feel more able to take control of their health, and most importantly they will know they have the power to stop an exam if they feel uncomfortable. Meeting with the gynecologist beforehand provides young women with a safe space to talk about their fears and is valuable in helping to build confidence. It also makes sense to help young women develop a relationship with their doctor and could help prevent them from the missing regular appointments and putting their health at risk.

Women who feel comfortable with their gynecologist are more likely to ask pertinent questions about their health, especially if they’ve noticed any symptoms that are out of the ordinary. Most doctor’s offices will be happy to make appointments for these pre-exam meetings.

What to Expect at Your Annual Gynecology Exam

The idea of an annual exam is to allow your healthcare provider to check that your female organs are healthy and to help maintain good ongoing gynecological health. The physical exam only takes about 10 minutes, and ideally, your healthcare provider will allow plenty of time for you to ask any questions both before and after your exam.

If it is your first examination, then make sure your gynecologist is aware of this. Most will go out of their way to help you relax and to feel comfortable, and they will understand that you are probably a little nervous. When you feel comfortable with your healthcare provider then asking these questions is a lot easier. If it helps, then don’t forget you can have a female friend or family member accompany you, or otherwise request a nurse chaperone.

Most women need to start having an annual gynecology exam between ages 18 and 21, or when they become sexually active. Women who notice any unusual symptoms should book an examination earlier. Unusual symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, pelvic or vaginal pain, any abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, or any swelling, sores, tenderness, itching or lumps. Women should also be aware of any changes to their breast tissue.

During your exam, your gynecologist will carry out a pelvic exam, and you can also have your Pap smear. It’s extremely quick to have a Pap smear as your doctor will take a small sample of cells from your cervix which can be tested to ensure they are healthy. It’s an annual exam that is extremely important, and you should always make an effort to have your Pap smear, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Cervical cancer is much easier to treat when detected early on, and a regular Pap smear can detect precancerous changes to cells.

Your exam also includes an examination to check the health of your uterus and ovaries, during which you might feel some light pressure because your healthcare provider will press down on your stomach with one hand, while gently feeling inside you with the other. It is over very quickly.

The examination of your breast tissue is also very quick and is to check for any lumps or thickened areas that shouldn’t be there. Your gynecologist can show you how to check your chests yourself, in between visits.

During your visit, your healthcare provider will want to ask other questions about your medical health and your family history. You might find some of these questions quite personal, but they only ask what is needed for your general health.

Making that First OBGYN Exam a More Pleasant Experience

Emma Kalman

Emma is a passionate writer with a love for health, research, and writing. Therefore, she strives to provide people with educational information for a healthier life.

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