Medical rooms are usually places where nothing is off limits. A female can discuss all of their most embarrassing problems without fear of judgment or reprisal. Within those four walls, you can tell your doctor secret information that you would never dream of divulging to your pals, parents or even your own partner. Well, if you think your medical problems are TMI, then FYI – here are the things your gynecologist thinks are too much.
It may be your first time visiting your gyno, or you may be heading to their office with an on-going issue. Worry not, your doctor will understand if you are a little nervous or embarrassed. But you should not be so afraid that you put off making or missing an appointment. You could well be delaying treatment for something that would benefit from immediate attention.
Serena Chen M.D. is director of reproductive medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey. She spoke to female teen magazine Seventeen about a young woman’s first time in November 2017. Chen explained, “When you make the appointment, just say, ‘I’m really nervous because this is my first visit.’ You want somebody who’s going to understand that this is your first experience and it’s a little nerve-wracking.”
Indeed, Chen advises that first-time females should ask friends and family to recommend a good doctor. And gynecologists are not exclusively accessed by women who are sexually active, so the word is not to wait until you are one before making a gyno appointment. It turns out that one of the things which drives doctors crazy is if you have not consulted someone about your reproductive health before your late teens. Pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are not the only areas that gynecologists are concerned with.
In fact, it is recommended by the U.S. governing body, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that young women should schedule their first visit to a gyno at about age 13-15. Although there are certain examinations that would only be carried out at a later age, if nothing else you will get a general health assessment. In addition, it is good to build up trust with your doctor early.
After all, trust is important, and there are many conflicting voices out there. The world of feminine hygiene marketing would have you believe that your sensitive areas should smell of roses. Well, don’t believe the hype. As Dr. Chen explained to Seventeen, “Douches are actually associated with higher rates of pelvic-inflammatory disease. The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] specifically recommends against them.”
So, to avoid rubbing your gyno up the wrong way, lay off the fancy intimate products. Such substances can potentially cause irritation or allergic reactions, and mess up your body’s natural chemical balance. However, if anything does smell untoward, it is best to schedule an appointment just to be sure. Otherwise – despite what the advertisements may say – a mild-soap-and-water session is all that the situation requires.
Speaking of that appointment to check out anything you are unsure about, ensure that you are open and honest with your gynecologist. Sure, it can be an awkward subject to talk about, but it sends gynos mad when you are unable to tell them about an issue you may be having. It will never serve you to not detail what is going on down there, so just tell your gynecologist straight. Believe it or not, it is unlikely that it is anything they have not seen or heard countless times before.
And if you happen to be concerned about a possible urinary tract infection – or UTI – do not hesitate to make that call to the doctor. Forget about home remedies or waiting it out, thinking it will heal itself. As Dr. Chen warned readers of Seventeen, “A UTI can go to your kidneys, so that should be considered urgent.” And if you are unable to secure an appointment, see a nurse or attend a drop-in clinic – just get it seen to.
However, beware of attempting a self-diagnosis online. The internet can be a great thing with so much information available to you at the touch of a button. And it can be so temptingly straightforward to look up your symptoms on WebMD to see what it is you may have. Gynecologists, however, detest it when you try to consult Google to get to the bottom of your women’s health problems.
As Chen stressed to Seventeen, “Dr. Google is great for general health awareness, but for actual medical advice, you have to see the doctor.” She also said that if you just have to ease your curiosity, you should stick to websites vetted by health professionals. These include the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Gynos also cannot stand it when you freak out about your personal grooming habits, so save the perfectly manicured lady garden look for your significant other. “My patients are always apologizing for not shaving beforehand, and it really does not make a difference,” Chen admitted in the magazine article. So, if the idea of stripping off for your doctor without first making an appointment with a beauty salon makes you embarrassed, save your blushes.
Draion M. Burch, clinical assistant professor for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh said as much to Women’s Health magazine in December 2016. “You don’t have to shave your legs or wax your vulva,” he declared. “I’m not paying any attention to those things.” Indeed, a visit to the gyno office is not a beauty parade. You are there for a purpose and your doctor is there to do a professional job not to make aesthetic judgements. Again, nothing you display will be anything they have not seen before.
Nevertheless, it is okay for a newbie to feel nervous in certain circumstances. Say you have finally selected a recommended gynecologist and plucked up the courage to schedule a visit. Now imagine it is the night before your consultation and you are doing your best to allay your unnecessary worries. You have even given the internet a swerve to avoid the temptation of self-diagnosis. Then you realize that you have made a miscalculation with your dates, and your period has started…
Your first thought may be to cancel your appointment. After all, who wants to be poking around down there when it is that time of the month? Nonetheless, Chen advises to at least place a call to the nurse to find out if your visit is still worthwhile. The M.D. told Seventeen, “I always like people to come anyway, because it’s hard to get people scheduled.” Besides, if your health concern involves irregular periods, it is difficult to determine any clear date with confidence.
Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine’s department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, spoke to Women’s Health about the menstruation question. She advised, “Births – particularly C-sections – are quite bloody, so I can assure you that you having your period while I’m examining you is not a problem in the slightest.” Nevertheless, would-be patients should be aware that some clinics may not be able to perform Pap smears during a period. The advice is that it is a good idea to check first, but do not think for a second about canceling such an appointment outright.
While we’re on the subject, it is also worth mentioning to your gyno if you are prone to bad premenstrual syndrome symptoms. You may endure bad cramping, or a particularly heavy flow, or even extreme mood swings. Regardless, doctors hate it when you feel like these ordeals are just something you have to put up with. It is possible that there is something your gynecologist can do to help.
And Chen certainly feels that way. “People shouldn’t be suffering every single month,” she insisted to Seventeen. “There are a lot of things that can be done, so you should definitely be evaluated. It’s usually something simple that can be treated.” It may all be part of the menstruation cycle, but it seems that there is no reason you should simply suck up any extreme symptoms.
It also annoys the heck out of your doctor when you have a laid-back attitude towards unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Sure, protection can be embarrassing to talk about, but it is also one of your gyno’s specialist subjects. Such matters are a major part of what these medics go to work for, and they can present all your options and find the one that best suits you. And, once again, a gynecologist will stress that it is important to consult them before your first time.
It seems like nothing can faze these health professionals – even Mother Nature’s messier side. For example, say your gyno has successfully seen you through your pregnancy and then the happy day finally arrives when it is time to welcome your new arrival. However, you wonder if you are pushing so hard that something else might accidentally pop out. Even this eventuality is not a deal breaker – far from it. “Nearly all women poop while pushing out their babies,” Leena Shankar Nathan M.D., a California-based obstetrician and gynecologist, explained to Women’s Health. “We are used to it and know how to deal with it, so just accept that it’s probably going to happen.” Which, it is fair to say, appears to sum up the general approach of gynos to any issue laid before them.