Dr. Kalinda Woods: Five Things to Do Before Visiting Your Gynecologist3
by Dr. Kalinda Woods
1. Pretend we are your Therapist: Tell ALL!
Think of your gynecologist as the Oprah of the medical realm. Have a bump ‘down there’ that you’re stressed about? Odds are excellent that your doctor has seen that before, knows how to treat it, and will reassure you that it’s not the end of the world. You’ll get the most out of your visit by being as honest and forthcoming as possible. Be assured that your doctor is well trained to deal with whatever is ailing you and there is little you can say or show her that will startle or offend. As physicians, our goal is to make you better, never to judge or chastise. It’s okay to cry in the stirrups. That’s why there’s a box of tissues right next to your head and a picture of kittens on the ceiling.
2. Wear clean socks.
Most women worry about the smell or appearance of their vaginas at their pap smear, but the truth is, vaginas are not as offensive as people would have us believe. Feet, however can be nasal insults unto themselves. During an exam, the part of your body closest to your doctors nose is…think about it…your feet. A word to the wise is sufficient.
3. Check your calendar
When was your last menstrual period? This information is important for docs to know. We make many types of women’s health decisions based on this info: from when to advise you to stop/ start contraception, to when to have sex if you are trying to conceive to whether you are going into menopause. Your doctor can also use this information to time certain laboratory and diagnostic tests. Always remember: the quality of the information you give your doctor can make all the difference in performing an accurate work up and making a timely diagnosis. So, when your doctor asks you this question, please be able to shout out the date! This will save time and provide a wealth of information for your doctor.
4. Know your medications
Your gynecologist needs to know what meds you are taking- especially if they will be prescribing other medications. Don’t assume that because you say you have high blood pressure your doctor knows what medicine you take. And saying, “high blood pressure pill” is not acceptable. If you’re not sure, that’s okay, just call the office when you get home with your medication list so your doctor can update your chart.
5. Your doc doesn’t know Insurance
Your doctor is a very simple creature. She spent many years studying the science, perfecting the technical skills, and learning the unteachable art of medicine that only comes with experience and having the privilege and the pressure of caring for the health of another. Does she know copays and deductibles? Not so much. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and chat with them about your questions- these folks can help sort this out. If you don’t have a card, hope your doc has someone in her office with a fancy title like “Financial Advisor” who can assist with cost and billing concerns.
Kalinda Woods is a general obstetrician/ gynecologist and Assistant Professor in practice at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.