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7 Things To Know Before Going To The OB/GYN

There are a number of things you can do to prepare and educate yourself for a visit with your OB/GYN. The most important is to understand that your doctor has one focus for your appointment: to use the time to make sure you are healthy and that you stay that way.


1. Are pelvic exams necessary?

Pelvic exams are part of the typical pap smear exam. If you’re under 21 and not sexually active, according to Mayo Clinic, many doctors don’t believe a pelvic exam during a pap smear is necessary until a woman is sexually active or over age 21.


2. What should I ask my doctor?

No topic is taboo. If you have questions or concerns, write them down before to the doctor’s office. Unusual bleeding between menstrual cycles, pain during intercourse, or any changes in your body are important to discuss with your doctor during this visit. Understanding areas of concern can help in maintaining your health over the years. If you are over 18, all information is considered confidential.


3. Does my doctor need to know what supplements I take?

Yes, bring a list of your vitamins and supplements to your visit. Over the counter supplements can often be as important as your prescription medications. You should always prepare a list of medications you take on a regular basis and any changes since your last visit. Your OB/GYN needs to know about other procedures performed by your primary care doctor or other specialists.


4. What’s involved in a self-exam?

Self-exams are important part of your routine health and can catch potential problems in their early stages. By using a hand mirror, note any changes in color of your genital area, as well as any extra tissue, bumps or blisters, and discuss those during your visit. While there’s no standard screen for vulvar cancer, the American Cancer Society says having pelvic exams and knowing any signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer greatly improve the chances of early detection and successful treatment.


5. What needs to be shaved before a pap smear?

Shaving your genital area before your visit is not necessary. Whether you groom or not is unimportant to your doctor, but basic hygiene is appreciated. Your normal bathing routine is fine before your pap smear. If you are on your period, however, you may want to consider rescheduling your visit.


6. Will I need to give blood?

In most cases, lab tests are a normal part of the exam. The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologist recommend screening for cervical cytology and testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV). Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with HPV. A typical exam will also screen for common STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV.


7. How does my age effect my visit?

What stage of life you’re in will play a part in your exam as well. Teens and young women will be more focused on birth control, fertility, and STDs. Women over 30 may want to discuss different hormonal changes, vaginal dryness or decreased sex drive. Menopausal and post-menopausal women will still want to continue yearly pap smears until they’re in their late 60s. Discuss the right plan for you with your OB/GYN.
Any questions or concerns you have not covered in this article should be addressed with your doctor’s office before your appointment.

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