Everything You Need to Know Before Your First Gynecology Appointment
It’s inevitable, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Around age 15 (or before you have sex—whichever comes first), find a gynecologist you trust, book an appointment, and get an exam. The process might seem awkward, but it’s way easier than you think. Promise.
While experts recommend going when you’re young, don’t not go if you’re embarrassed about being older than the suggested age. The doctor isn’t going to shame you. Whether your first gyno appointment is when you’re 13 or 23, she’s going to commend you for taking control of your health. Here’s a quick primer before your visit.
It’s OK to be nervous.
If sitting in a doctor’s office with your legs splayed out with only a flimsy gown covering your body doesn’t seem like your idea of fun, you’re far from alone. Seeing the gynecologist is not the ideal way to spend half an hour, but it’s so necessary. As 19-year-old Gabby said of her experience, “It really isn’t as bad as you imagine it to be. I went for the first time last summer and I was nervous beforehand. I realized that the gynecologist is here to make sure I’m healthy and that I don’t need to be nervous.” Your first appointment is typically just an introduction, anyway. Take your mom if you’re extra nervous; she's probably gone every year for the better part of her life, so she's a pro.
Ask questions (even embarrassing ones!).
Going to the gyno is inherently weird. So you might as well take advantage of the situation and ask your doctor all your questions. Yep, even your worst, most embarrassing ones. Look at it this way: You can’t make the situation any more uncomfortable than it already is. But more importantly, any healthcare professional is a way better resource than Google (or even your friends). So save yourself the stress later and ask her everything you want to know right now. She’s undoubtedly heard the question before, and she's not going to judge you.
Just take it from Dymond, 19, who said, “Being honest and clear is very important; if you're not, you may not get the help or answers you're seeking.” We recommend writing down the questions ahead of time so you don’t get flustered in the moment and have trouble thinking of them IRL.
You might feel some pressure, but it won’t be physically painful.
We’re talking about the exam itself, not the pre-exam convo (although this could be said for both). If you go to the gyno as a teen, you’ll probably just have an external exam for your first appointment—not the pelvic exam or Pap smear. But if you’re closer to 18 or you’re sexually active, you should consider getting a Pap smear, which is a slightly uncomfortable but almost entirely painless procedure that’s used to detect cervical cancer.
Although you might still be anxious before your appointment, rest assured you're not alone. As 20-year-old Lauren put it, "Everyone with lady parts goes through it; it's weird at first, but you'll get through it." You got this.
P.S. Planned Parenthood offers women's health services, including gynecologist appointments. If you're worried about things like money or insurance, know your options and book a visit here.