What to Expect At Your First Gynecology (OB/GYN) Visit

Updated: Jun 3

The first visit to a new doctor can be a little nerve-wracking for any person. You can lessen your anxiety about the visit if you know what to expect beforehand. A good gynecology appointment will feel like a conversation with a friend in terms of comfort and openness.

During your appointment, your gynecologist will look for signs of common health problems. You can also talk about birth control options or other issues like abnormal periods, sexual health or pain during sex, and more. If you’re not sure what to expect from your first gynecologist visit, we’ll break it down for you here.

What Does A Gynecologist Do?

A gynecologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases and conditions that affect the female reproductive system. They can also help with other health issues that affect women, such as breast health, menopause, and urinary tract infections.

Most gynecologists provide annual exams to keep you healthy and aware of potential risks associated with aging. Many patients see their gynecologists every year for regular checkups. These visits are important because they allow doctors to catch any problems early on so that they don't develop into more serious issues later on down the road. Gynecologists can also provide referrals to other specialists if you need additional care for certain conditions.

Finding a gynecologist can be difficult with so many things to consider, such as cost, location, and hours of operation. Finding a doctor who fits your financial and logistical needs is important, but it doesn’t account for whether the doctor’s personality, treatment style, and specialization will be the right fit for you. You can read our tips and recommendations on finding the best gynecologist for you.

The POV offers a free healthcare matching tool to make your search for a new gynecologist simple. Just select the requirements you’re looking for including, location, care needs, payment options, and preferred method for care. We’ll match your requirements with providers in order of overall rating and include a brief description so you can make the best informed decision.

At What Age Should I Start Seeing A Gynecologist?

As a general rule of thumb, most experts recommend scheduling your first gynecology visit between the ages of 13 and 15, or as soon as you start menstruating. This can be a good time to ask questions and learn what's normal so you're equipped to notice any changes to your body in the future. Your gynecologist will help you understand things like when your period will start and stop, how much bleeding is too much during menstruation, why painful cramps might be happening, and more.

If you have risk factors for certain diseases, like diabetes or heart disease, it might be a good idea to get your first appointment earlier than the recommended age. The older you are when you first visit your gynecologist, the more likely it is that your doctor will recommend more frequent visits and checkups.

What Should I Expect From My First Gynecologist Visit?

During a typical visit to the gynecologist you can expect to meet the doctor and medical assistant. They may also ask you to complete a health history form that asks about your menstrual cycle and how you've been feeling lately.

The doctor will ask you some questions about your health history, including when your last Pap smear was, if you have any problems with urination or bowel movements, if you’ve ever had a sexually transmitted disease (STD), if you have any pain in your pelvis or back, and questions related to any other relevant details of your life that might affect your health, like smoking. After this conversation is complete, the physical exam will begin.

The physical exam includes checking your body for any signs of infections or other problems. These tests may include:

  1. A Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer (this test is usually done every three years)

  2. A breast exam to screen for breast cancer

  3. A pelvic exam to check for uterine problems

  4. An STD test to check for sexually transmitted diseases

If you are sexually active, the doctor will talk with you about birth control options that might be right for your needs and lifestyle.

If there's anything unusual or concerning, they may recommend more tests or procedures to rule out certain conditions before making a diagnosis.

Whether this is a regular check-up, your first visit with a new provider or your first ever gynecology appointment, you should feel prepared and empowered to get any questions you may have answered.

If you’re unsure of what to ask your gynecologist, here are 20 Important Questions We Think You Should Ask Your Gynecologist.

How Often Should I See A Gynecologist?

As a general rule, you should see a gynecologist once a year. This is especially important if you are sexually active and over 35 years old. If your family has a history of cancer, it's even more important that you get regular checkups because some cancers can be passed down through the generations without being detected until it’s too late.

If you have any concerns about changes in your body or sexual health that could indicate disease or infection, make sure to tell your doctor so they can give you sound advice on how to proceed.

What Will Happen During My Exam At the Gynecologist?

If you’re still feeling uneasy about your gynecologist appointment, here’s a step by step of what you can expect while you’re in the exam room.

  • First, you’ll be asked to undress from the waist down.

  • Then, you’ll lie on the table and relax.

  • Next, the doctor will do an internal exam using a speculum to examine your cervix.

  • You may also have a pap smear to test for cervical cancer, if you haven’t had one recently or if there was something abnormal about it last time.

  • Finally, get dressed and head home!

Don’t Be Afraid of Going to the Gynecologist

A visit to the gynecologist shouldn’t be scary, although it may be a bit uncomfortable. Remember that you’re in charge of your health, and if something is concerning you or doesn’t feel right, make sure to tell your doctor. A gynecologist appointment doesn’t have to be stressful; just try these tips for what to expect at a gynecologist appointment and you'll be prepared for your first or next visit!

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