Everything you need to know about your first visit
What can I expect to happen during my gynecological exam?
Before we get started, it’s important to note that you should always schedule an exam for a day when you don’t have your period. If you unexpectedly get it, it’s not a big deal, just reschedule.
At the beginning of your gynecological exam, they’ll get the routine stuff out of the way first, like height, weight and blood pressure. There’s a chance they might also ask for a urine sample – it’s totally normal. Then be prepared to answer a bunch of general questions like your medical history, any recent changes in your health and the first day of your last period (try to remember! Or don’t and just use a period tracker like the Tampax period calendar). Before the doctor comes in, you’ll be asked to change into a gown so that the doctor can do a full exam. Just an FYI, the gown is a total fashion fail.
When the doctor comes in, the questions may get a little more awkward. But just remember: the doctor isn’t there to judge you; his or her sole purpose is to take care of you in the best way for YOUR body. He/she may ask basic questions about your overall health such as whether or not you’re sexually active or if you’re experiencing irregular periods. The conversation should open up so that you can ask anything that’s on your mind.
The doctor might start the gynecological exam by listening to your heart and lungs. Next, he/she may examine your abdomen and then your breasts. Yeah, it can be a little strange at first, but it only lasts a few seconds, so just hang in there.
Take a deep breath. It’s time for the next part of your gynecological exam, the pelvic exam. The doctor will ask you to lie on your back and put your feet in stirrups (kind of like bike pedals!). Then he/she will take a seat down near your feet. Awkward, yeah, but the doctor has to be able to see what’s going on to make sure you’re healthy.
Here are a few things you can do to ease your nerves:
- If the stirrups are hard, cold or bothersome, put your socks on or ask for a cover to place over them.
- Some girls like to bring a mirror with them so they can watch and follow along.
- Ask your doctor to explain what he/she is doing at every step so nothing takes you by surprise.
- The doctor does this type of exam ALL the time, so if you’re embarrassed, it’s okay to let him or her know that.
- Bring headphones! If you’re really stressed, listening to your favorite tunes during the exam might do the trick.
While you’re keeping your cool, here’s what’s going on: After looking at your vulva, the doctor will insert a speculum to begin the pelvic exam. A speculum is nothing fancy. It’s just a tool to help him or her see your vaginal walls and cervix. It can be plastic or metal. If it’s metal, it might be cold. You can ask the doctor to run it under warm water first. When he/she begins, you’ll feel a little pressure. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it definitely shouldn’t be painful. Just remember, the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your muscles will be and the smoother it will go.
Still a little spooked about your first visit? Take a deep breath and ask an expert any other questions you may have. Or check out the super informative Period Questions article.