5 questions answered to approach a gynaecologist for a stigma-free consultation

All of us have definitely found ourselves wondering about our intimate health, period patterns or safe sexual practices, hormonal balance, awareness and protection against sexually transmitted diseases or proper functioning of their
reproductive system. When concerned, we visit the gynecologist. Yes. Unlike the common perception, it’s not always singularly about one’s pregnancy concerns; but even if it is, the woman/ girl concerned has to prioritize her health and wellness over the unfounded taboos around approaching the gynecologist.

Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in women’s reproductive health. An obstetrician is a kind of a gynaecologist who specializes in pregnancy and child birth. An OB-GYN is trained to do all of these things.

 

1. When should one start seeing a gynecologist and what to expect?
It is recommended that a girl should start seeing a gynecologist at the age of 13-15 regardless of whether or not she’s started menstruating or is sexually active. Building a relationship with your doctor from a young age enables you to be
more comfortable in asking questions about menstruation, sexual health and so on.

But if you’re older and have never visited a gynaecologist before, don’t let this guideline put you off from making an appointment now.

The doctor will first start off with talking to you and asking you questions about your periods, sexual activity, smoking /alcohol consumption and so on. Remember it is important to answer honestly. Then he/she will want to do a
few exams like external genital exam which includes taking a look around your vaginal opening. Pelvic exam, breast exam and a pap smear may also be done. A pap smear, also called a pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer
which includes gently scraping cells from your cervix and examining them for abnormal growth. A pap smear shouldn’t hurt, but it might be uncomfortable. The good news is it doesn’t take much time. For young patients, the doctor may not perform a pelvic exam, and pap smears are not performed on women who are under 21.

 

2. Do I need to shave or wax before an appointment?
No it’s not necessary. It’s your choice. If you feel that pubic hair will make you feel uncomfortable, you can go for shaving or waxing. You will want to be clean, so make sure you shower that day and maintain proper intimate hygiene.

 

3. Will the visit be uncomfortable or awkward?
It’s completely normal to be scared, though there is really no reason to be. If it makes you comfortable to have a family member or a friend by your side, most doctors will allow you to bring someone along for consultation, or during body
examination.

 

4. Is it okay to ask questions?
YES. In fact you should ask questions. No topic is too weird to discuss, so don’t hold back from asking a question just
because you think it’s a taboo or embarrassing.

 

5. What are the instances when I must visit the gynecologist?

  • Having severe menstrual cramps and other kind of pelvic pain
  • Vaginal itching, redness, sores or unusual odour/discharge
  • To discuss safe sex or contraceptives
  • Missed your period for more than three months or having irregular periods
  • Injured your pelvic area
  • Experiencing frequent urination or burning sensation while urinating
  • You believe you’ve been exposed to sexually transmitted disease
  • Menopause

 

We are in the 21st century now and the world around is changing and getting complex day by day. It is time we break up with the social stigmas and start embracing our sexual aspects like any other. Eat healthy, sleep well and visit your gynaecologist regularly depending upon the need. Don’t be embarrassed of your queries and seek proper guidance.

 

Kalpana Jangra
2 nd semester
LHMC

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