Experts recommend that young girls begin seeing a gynecologist around the time of sexual maturation, between 13 and 15 years of age, and once every year after that. However daunting visiting the gynecologist might be, it helps to know what you’re in for. Once you’re aware of what to expect, regular visits becomes entirely less horrifying. If you’ve developed a good relationship with your doctor, it can even be something to look forward to!
A Typical Visit
A routine gynecological check-up will generally involve several standard procedures that will let your doctor know how your body is functioning.
- Vital Signs – These represent measurements of your basic physiological function. The principal vitals a gynecologist takes are: temperature, pulse or heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. These are non-invasive measurements that use a thermometer, watch, stethoscope (usually a very cold one!), and sphygmomanometer (one of those inflatable cuffs).
- Body Mass Index – The doctor will want to measure both your weight and height to determine your BMI. This will tell him or her whether you are at a normal weight for your body type.
- Abdominal Palpation – This sounds like a very clinical term, but it really refers to the doctor applying pressure to the abdomen and surrounding areas. By doing this, your gynecologist is looking for tangible abnormalities in the abdominal tissue organs, as well as any abnormalities in the inguinal lymph nodes surrounding the pelvic area. Your doctor may ask you to report any pain or discomfort felt during the procedure.
- Breast Examination – Much like step #3, this will let your doctor observe and feel for any irregularities in either the surface or internal anatomy of the breasts.
- Pelvic Examination – This step is not always necessary and is up to the discretion of your gynecologist. Whether your doctor chooses to perform one will depend on several factors, including your age, medical history, risk factors, and the doctor’s own individual method. During a pelvic exam, the gynecologist will ask you to spread your legs wide apart, often with the aid of stirrups, and scoot all the way to the edge of the exam table. There are several steps, though not all of them are taken every time:
- External examination of the genital organs
- Internal examination using two fingers, during which the doctor will also apply light opposing pressure to your abdomen to feel for any abnormalities.
- Sometimes a speculum is used for the internal exam, which will slightly dilate the vaginal opening to allow inspection. During this procedure, the gynecologist may take a tissue sample for a Pap smear, which can sometimes pinch a little.
There you have it! Not too scary, right? While each person may encounter variable circumstances that demand either more or less invasive tests, these are the basic procedures of a routine visit and nothing to be afraid of. Don’t hesitate to ask your gynecologist any questions, and for further queries between appointments, visit Gynecologists.com and ask away! There’s no reason for hesitation; find a doctor on Gynecologists.com today and feel nothing less than confident at your next appointment.