What to expect when you visit a gynae?
A gynae or gynaecologist is a doctor who specialises in the health of the female reproductive system. The gynaecologist can expertly answer questions on everything to do with period pain, vaginal infections, breast health and pregnancy.
Going to a gynaecologist helps a woman understand and take better care of her body. Your gynae can tell you what a normal vaginal discharge is and what is not. You can also discuss contraception options that will work best for you and ways to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
It is recommended that you see a gynae when you hit puberty. This is roughly around 13 to 15 years old. You should visit a gynae regardless of whether you are sexually active or not. If you have any health issues your gynae can detect it early and offer you necessary treatment.
If you are seeing a gynaecologist for the first time, it’s ok to feel a bit scared or nervous. Here’s what you can expect on your first visit to the gynae:
The gynae will ask you routine questions relating to your menstrual cycle, your sexual activity, and general medical history. This will help him or her assess your health and lifestyle.
Preparing for the check-up
After the chat with your gynae, you will be asked to undress completely and put on a hospital gown. Not to worry you will never be fully exposed.
The general check-up
Your blood pressure will be taken and the doctor will do a check on your heart, lungs, chest and thyroid gland. A urine and blood test will be done. A breast exam will determine if you have any lumps or sore areas on your breasts.
The internal check-up
Yes, the gynae will have to look 'down there' to see if your reproductive organs are healthy. The doctor will examine the outside area of your vagina (the vulva) first. A tool called a speculum will be used by the doctor to look inside your vagina and in particular the cervix (the lower end of the uterus or womb). The gynae may need to feel around to make sure the uterus and ovaries feel okay.
It really shouldn't hurt. Your gynae will talk you through the examination. He or she should always put you at ease and make sure you are comfortable. Remember to take a deep breath and try to relax.
Expect a Pap Smear to be done at some point during this check-up. A Pap Smear is when the doctor gently takes a swab or sample of cervix cells from the cervix area. The sample will be sent for lab testing to check if the cervix cells are healthy.
During the check-up
You can go to a female gynaecologist if that makes you feel more comfortable. If your doctor is male, you can ask for a female nurse or assistant to be present while the examination takes place. Or you can ask your mum or sister to be with you. Feel free to ask your gynae questions about the examination or about any other health concerns you may have.
The doctor will inform you of the pap smear results once the lab testing is done. Should there be a problem you might have to see the gynae again to discuss doing further tests.
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