Life is stressful enough. No need to add to your daily stress by dreading your annual visit to the gynaecologist. Being prepared for what is to come can make your life so much easier.
Here are some tips to enhance your appointment experience. Straight from “the horses mouth.”
1.DO YOUR RESEARCH :
Choose your gynaecologist wisely.
Go on a personal recommendation from a friend, colleague or your family doctor. Keep your eyes and ears open. Gynaecologists often appear on radio or television . Someone might impress you. Health articles in magazines are sometimes written by gynaecologists with a special interest in the topic under discussion. This could be a good way for you to identify someone you like.
Then there is always Google . If all else fails, check online for reviews and websites.
A gynaecologist is someone you will discuss very intimate and personal details of your life with. It is important to establish a good rapport and relationship on the first meeting.
You want someone genuinely willing to listen to your problems, and to advise you in a manner that is respectful of your cultural background, religion and personal choices. It helps if your gynaecologist is warm and friendly and can discuss solid, up to date medical information without judging you or your behavior.
2.GET THE LOGISTICS RIGHT
There is nothing worse than getting lost and arriving late for an appointment .Know where to go and how to get there. If you are running late, call ahead and inform the receptionist.
I very much appreciate this unexpected time to catch up on medical reports, ward rounds and telephone calls. Specialists are busy people and schedule appointments in time slots. Arriving late creates a spin off and late appointments for everyone else scheduled after you.
The mark of a well-run office is a message via phone or text to you if the doctor happens to be running late. How many times have you seen that?
3.THEN THERES THE ISSUE OF FEES
Don’t get an unexpected surprise. Make it your business to find out beforehand:
What does the doctor charge?
What will be billed for?
Will the doctor bill you or your medical aid?
Do you have to settle your charges on the spot?
Does your doctor bill at private or medical aid rates?
What portion will you get back from your medical aid?
Is there a chance of unexpected expenses?
Being financially savvy and planning in advance is really to your own benefit.
Most doctor’s receptionists can advise you. E-mailing the doctors office beforehand is another way to get this information.
4.KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
After taking a detailed history, the doctor will proceed to examine you. A breast examination is always performed. Use this opportunity to ask your doctor to show you how to perform your own breast examination.
Usually, an internal vaginal examination, a pap smear if appropriate, and a vaginal ultrasound examination is performed. Most gynaecologists today will perform an ultrasound examination as part of the visit. This serves to act as a visual extention of the examination and allows detection of problems early on.
Other special tests or biopsies may be necessary depending on your specific issues.
At the visit you may be expected to produce a urine sample. In some instances, if you have never been sexually active, you may have to arrive with a full bladder in order to help with an abdominal pelvic ultrasound examination
5.GET YOUR HISTORY IN ORDER
Your gynaecologist will ask you detailed questions about your periods. It is useful to keep a diary for a few months beforehand. Apps specifically designed to keep track of this information can take the hassle away.
Download one that works for you.
Also get as much history as possible from your family regarding illnesses that can have genetic links. Breast and ovarian cancer in particular. You also may want to get some information on family incidences of heart disease, Diabetes and Thrombosis.
Be honest about your own previous history and habits. Try not to leave any health issues out, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Remember, your doctor is trained to connect the dots.
6.WHAT IF YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD ON THE DAY
If you need to have a pap smear and the gynaecologist is using a technique called liquid based analysis ,then there should be no need to cancel the appointment. With the older pap smear technique, too much blood made the detection of abnormal cells almost impossible. Find out which method your gynaecologist uses.
Having a gynaecological examination during your period can be slightly more uncomfortable for you but may not hinder your gynaecologist.
7.BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED
Ask questions if you need. Don’t be afraid. It is after all about your own health. Take responsibility for your body and how you care for it.
Discuss how your test results will be communicated to you. No news does not mean good news. Make sure you get a telephone call, text or email about your results. Call back if you have had no word.10 days is a reasonable time to wait.
Ladies, don’t be stressed out if your legs are unwaxed or your toenail polish is chipped. Your gynaecologist is really not paying attention to that.
What is appreciated though, is a shower in the 24 hours before your visit.
Sex without a condom the night before the examination is not recommended. Not only will things be messier for your examiner, abnormal cells may not show up clearly.
Avoid using douches or vaginal creams at least 24 hours before your examination. Any foreign substance can make your doctor’s job more difficult.
“At first it seems difficult and then it is done”
I love this quote by Nelson Mandela.
Gynaecological visits become easier with time.
Most of my patients actually look forward to their annual gynaecological visits.
Sometimes there are tears and anxieties.
Mostly it is just about being real and human and building a trusting relationship.
And the best part….
Is being told that all is normal…
Until we meet again!