A Gynaecologist deal with a wide range of female reproductive issues, including pregnancy and childbirth, obstetrics, fertility health checks and menstruation, hormones disorders, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) amongst others. It is important to visit a gynaecologist every year between the age of 21 to 29. Whereas, the frequency of visiting a gynaecologist will depend on the issues a woman faces with her reproductive health.
A] When Should You First Visit a Gynaecologist and Why it’s Important?
If a person is sexually active before the age of 21, then they should visit the gynaecologist every year. A pelvic examination is not necessary in case you are not sexually active. However, a pelvic exam may be done in case of issues or concerns regarding the same.
Visiting a gynaecologist serves three purposes regarding personal private health.
- Information: They provide accurate information on the health of your reproductive system. You can also understand and get answers to any questions regarding menstruation, changes in your body, sexuality, and sex. All this information remains confidential.
- Prevention: A gynaecologist can help you learn about the different issues and how to prevent them, including sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, the importance of safe sex etc.
- Treatment: A gynaecologist can look into the different issues pertaining to reproductive health like missed periods, reproductive problems, pains etc and offer the correct treatments for the same. The patient’s family medical details also help them understand any underlying issue. For example, did any female in your family suffer from ectopic pregnancies, endometriosis, diabetes, cancer, painful periods, anaemia, surgeries of any kind or any other chronic illness?
B] Things To Do Before a Gynaecologist Visit
There are a few things that need to be paid attention to before your gynaecologist visit. Two days before the appointment, you should avoid:
- Having sex or participating in any sexual activity
- Putting anything in your vagina or using tampons
- Do not use any powder or creams
A few other things to do while preparing for gynaecologist visit:
- Prepare a list of questions to ask your gynaecologist on your first visit such as common infections, birth control methods, painful periods, irregular periods and mood swings during your period, PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
- Understand the medical history of females in your family.
C] What Happens at a Gynaecologist Appointment During The First Visit?
- During your first gynaecologist visit, the doctor will talk to you about your health and how you try to keep your reproductive area healthy and what to expect from future appointments.
- They will ask you a lot of questions to understand your vaginal health. Many of these questions may seem hard to talk about or embarrassing to answer, but it is important to be honest.
- They will also discuss your periods; if they are regular or irregular, what kind of flow do you go through during your period, etc. In case you have any health problems like heavy periods or painful periods, then certain tests may be needed.
- The doctor will also ask you if you are sexually active or not and discuss the same.
- Also, the first visit to the gynaecologist doesn’t necessarily mean that you will go through a pelvic examination.
If you are accompanied by your parent, the doctor will make sure to ask you any personal questions in private and make your parent wait outside. All of the information is kept confidential between the doctor and the patient. So, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them during the appointment.
They might also ask you questions after the establishment of the date of your last period. Some of these questions include:
- Are you sexually active/ having sex?
- Do you have irregular periods?
- What kind of period cramps do you experience?
- Do you use condoms when you have sex?
- Are you on any form of birth control?
- Do you experience any form of uncomfortable itching?
A Gynaecologist not only cares about your reproductive health but also of your general health. You can confide with your gynaecologist about sleep issues, difficulty in losing weight, and depression.
D] What Does a Gynaecologist Do On Your First Visit: Different Examinations
Some of the different gynaecologist examinations that you go through include:
- General Physical Exam
During the general exam, the doctor will check your height, weight, heart rate and blood pressure. They might also conduct a blood test to check for any existing medical conditions.
- Routine Pelvic Exam
A part of routine physical examination, a pelvic exam is conducted to find any signs of ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, sexually transmitted diseases, early-stage cancer and other issues.
- Pap Test
A Pap test is the method of examination used for cervical screening, which helps the doctor detect any potential cancerous or precancerous cell present in the cervix or the colon. If any abnormality is found, it is followed up with a set of sensitive diagnosis procedures to prevent the progression of the cancerous cells, which lead to cervical cancer.
During a pap test, there is a procedure called a pap smear that takes place. For the pap smear test, an instrument called a speculum is inserted into your vagina, which helps keep the walls of the vagina apart making it easier for the doctor to examine your cervix.
*Pap test and routine pelvic exam are not required before age 25 unless you are sexually active.
- Bimanual Exam
The doctor uses this two-finger exam to check the size and location of a woman’s pelvic organs (such as the uterus and ovaries). This exam is routine in women’s health care (gynaecology). In urology, it is used to diagnose problems related to urination, including cancer. In this process, the gynaecologist will inserts two lubricated and gloved fingers into the woman’s vagina while simultaneously pressing on her abdomen with the other hand.
#Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
A viral infection that is passed through skin-to-skin contact, HPV has over 100 varieties out of which 40 can be passed through sexual contact. The virus can affect different parts of the body such as mouth, throat or genitals. It is known to be the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). The symptoms of HPV include warts on the genitals or the skin surrounding the genitals. The infection or warts may go away on their own. However, there is no cure available which is why both boys and girls are advised to take the vaccine.
#After The Appointment
The doctor might call you for a follow-up appointment if required or to collect your reports if any tests are conducted. Before you leave the doctor’s office, ask any questions that you might have. You can also schedule your next appointment or yearly physical.