If you’re like me, you’ve probably left a gynecologist appointment or two with your head spinning — and a lot of questions you forgot to ask during the appointment. It’s understandable. The appointments don’t come around that often, they can feel rushed, and it can be hard to keep your head on straight if you’re feeling stressed or uncomfortable (hello, cold speculum). So get prepared, and make the most out of your next visit with these tips.
Find your match
Had a terrible appointment last year? Don’t be afraid to switch doctors — it’s important you find one that you trust and feel comfortable with so that you’re not leaving appointments feeling like you could’ve gotten that same care with WebMD. Ask friends for their recommendations, and check out your “maybes” on Healthgrades and Yelp to see reviews.
Consider any specific experience you might need, too, Healthgrades advises — like a doc who sees a lot of patients with a certain condition, like endometriosis. They’re likely to be up on the latest research and treatments. If you need a specific procedure, you can also ask about complication rates.
Your doc will have questions for you at your appointment, so make sure you’re prepared with answers. This might mean doing some homework ahead of time, or jotting down some dates and facts so you don’t get flustered and forget. “I always take a full history,” says Dr. Angela Jones, M.D., the OBGYN behind the Ask Dr. Angela podcast. “This will include questions about your period: when it started, how many days it lasts, if it’s “regular” or do you skip months at a time, is it heavy, is it especially painful. She also asks about sexual history, history of sexually transmitted infections, safe sex, and alcohol, cigarette, and drug use (current and past). And don’t forget about your family. “In keeping with taking a complete history, [I also ask] about family history and whether certain medical conditions run in your family (mom/dad),” Dr. Angela says.
Ask all of your questions
Don’t be shy. “There are no stupid questions… ever!” says Rebecca Booth, M.D. a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, and senior partner in one of the largest OBGYN practices in the southeast, Women First of Louisville. “Don’t feel embarrassed about any question, and if you are having issues with very private issues, your gynecologist is the person you can trust who has heard it all.” Whether you’re having issues or pain, want to know if something is normal, or have some “just curious” questions, write them down before the appointment so you don’t forget.
No chemistry? Keep looking
You want a gynecologist who makes you comfortable and who supports your information needs, says Healthgrades. “When you first meet… ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? Find an OBGYN who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.” If you feel rushed or dismissed, don’t be afraid to pass on a second appointment.