Does visiting a gynecologist make you nervous? A study conducted by Midwifery found that more than half of all women felt anxious or worried about undergoing a pelvic exam, so you’re not alone.
There are any number of reasons why you might feel anxious about meeting with your gynecologist. If it’s your first pelvic exam, you may not know what to expect and worry that it might be painful. Or perhaps you’re worried that the results of a Pap smear or a mammogram might indicate cervical cancer or breast cancer. It could be that you find the experience awkward, or you are uncomfortable about the idea of exposing the most intimate parts of your body.
Whatever the reason may be, you shouldn’t worry about or put off your gynecologist visit. It can help catch problems early when they can be effectively treated. It also provides the opportunity, especially if you’re a young adult, to receive the human papilloma virus vaccine, thereby preventing problems such as cervical cancer in the future.
Ways to Cope With OB/GYN Anxiety
Here are several ways you can make a visit to your gynecologist more relaxing and beneficial:
- Find a doctor you feel comfortable with. The right provider – someone who is friendly, compassionate, and professional – can often make a significant difference in how you feel about your gynecological visits. If you already have a trusted provider, great! If not, check who is covered by your medical insurance, ask a friend or family member who they recommend, and read online reviews about the prospective physician. Then, before you schedule a physical exam, see if you can meet the doctor to gauge your compatibility.
- Ask a friend or family member questions about their gynecology visit. Knowing what will happen and what to expect during your gynecological exam can alleviate one possible source of your anxiety. Once you have an idea of what is entailed, write down any questions you might have for your doctor.
- Let your gynecologist know in advance if you find a pelvic exam challenging. That way, the doctor and their staff can try to make the experience more relaxing and comfortable for you.
- Have a friend or family member accompany you. They can either join you in the examination room to provide emotional support or wait in the reception area if your gynecologist needs time alone with you to share any sensitive information.
- During the exam, breathe deeply. Deep breathing can help relax your pelvic muscles, allowing the exam to be performed more smoothly and quicker.
- Assume a more relaxing position. During your pelvic exam, your feet will be in metal stirrups with your legs bent and the rest of your body lying on the exam table. By bringing your body further down the table and letting your knees flop apart, you can make it easier for your muscles to relax. If you are sensitive to a cold speculum (the device used to open the walls of the vagina), ask if it can be warmed up. Likewise, request a smaller-sized speculum if it will help make you feel more comfortable.
- Ask your provider or their staff for possible distractions. Music, videos, or games you can play on an electronic tablet can help you focus on something more pleasant during your pelvic exam.
- Address vaginal dryness in advance. This can make your pelvic exam more uncomfortable than necessary. Ask your doctor if you can use an over-the-counter moisturizer to ease the discomfort. Since some products may interfere with Pap smear results, you should talk to your doctor in advance to ensure there won’t be complications.
- If necessary, inquire about medication to manage pain and anxiety. Although a routine pelvic exam may be a little awkward and uncomfortable but not painful, other procedures – such as a biopsy or IUD removal or placement can cause some pain. You can take ibuprofen before your gynecology visit for relief. You can also ask in advance whether your doctor can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, such as lorazepam or alprazolam, prior to an uncomfortable procedure. However, you will need to have someone drive you home after your visit. Light sedation for overly stressful procedures is also an option.
It also helps to realize that you, the patient, have control over your pelvic examination. If there are certain parts of a gynecology visit you don’t want to happen, let your provider know, as there may be alternate ways you can be examined.
Gynecologist Near Me in Syracuse, New York
At University OB/GYN Associates, our staff of skilled professionals are committed to helping you maintain your reproductive and sexual healthcare. To achieve that goal, we not only offer the most up-to-date services at every stage of your adult life, including advanced treatments in all facets of gynecology, we also provide personalized and compassionate care to put you at ease about maintaining your wellbeing.