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What to expect during your OBGYN visit- An overview

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Who doesn’t like that feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning; the exciting feeling of another chance to do it right? As it is a new year, we hope you will be including your annual obgyn visit on your list of goals!

Most people that come into my office for their annual exam let me know how much they have tried to put it off because an exam of such a private area is not something anyone loves to do. I get that, I do. But it is an important part of your overall health that even though it's not the most comfortable visit you should not put it off. I’m here today to tell you why…

woman in sexy lingerie
Photo by @Audrey.Leighton

The “Well-Woman visit” as we call it should be done every single year. It's the time to ask important questions and make sure everything regarding your female health is up to date. Overall as you age, there are different questions your doctor asks and different tests that should be done. However, here, I will discuss an overview of what to expect.

The very first visit to a gynecologist should happen between the ages of 13 - 15. At this visit, an exam is not always performed as this first visit is usually just a discussion between you and your gynecologist. This is the age where the body begins to change and we discuss things like periods, sexual activity, even acne and more.

photo by @serrabellum

My advice is, no matter when you start seeing your gynecologist, remember that we have heard it all! There is no question that is too “gross,” “explicit,” or “weird.” We actually want to know everything because the more you tell us the better we can be at caring for you throughout your life.

At the same time, don’t feel pressured to come with a list of questions if you don’t have any. We can guide you along the process as well. But, you should be prepared to answer certain questions. Things that are good to know are: your family history of medical conditions and cancer, your own history of medications you have taken now and in the past and your personal medical conditions. Also, it's good to know what surgical procedures you have had and when they happened. And, if you have ever been pregnant we need to know how those pregnancies and deliveries went.

You might not need to come every year after that initial visit but, by age 20 you should be seeing a gynecologist yearly. At 20 years old a breast exam is usually performed and your doctor instructs you on how to do it yourself at home. This because as you age, your breast cancer risk increases. So, learning how to spot abnormal breast changes on your own is important. If you identify any changes such as a new lump make sure you bring to your doctors attention.

woman in skims loungewear
photo by @bellarosablog

The following year, at age 21, is when pap tests begin. And this is regardless of the age when you start having sex.

Here is what you can generally expect for the exam. When you arrive you will have your blood pressure and weight checked. Then, you will be in your own room where you will have to be completely undressed under a gown. It’s best to have the gown open to the front so that the breast exam is easier to do!

With the pelvic exam there are two parts. I know it's easier said than done, but try not to be too nervous or tense because squeezing the muscles around the vagina can actually make it more uncomfortable for you. Focus on taking slow deep breaths instead!

For the first part, your doctor will insert a lubricated speculum it into the vagina and open it so that they can view your cervix. This feels like a lot of pressure but there’s no pain. Remember - not all pelvic exams equal pap tests. Just because we’re looking does not mean a pap is being done. A pap test is when some cells of the cervix are brushed off and sent for testing. So make sure you ask your doctor if you are due for a pap and what they are doing when they exam you.

For the second part of the pelvic exam, your doctor’s fingers are inserted into the vagina and their other hand placed on your lower abdomen. Believe it or not we can feel your uterus and ovaries between our two hands with this part of the exam and can identify if there are abnormalities in these areas.

And that’s it!

I promise you it is not as difficult as it may seem and we all - even your female gynecologist, if you have one - have to get it done. Never be afraid to ask a question and don’t skip out on these important annual well-woman visits!

DISCLAIMER: Features published by Adaaba are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

Listen to Dr C's podcast on Spotify , Audible , Apple Podcasts &follow her on instagram @forvaginasonly for all things women's reproductive health

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