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Helpful Tips for Making Your OBGYN Appointment Less Stressful

Helpful Tips for Making Your OBGYN Appointment Less Stressful


Whether you’ve been waiting for ages for your first appointment or you’re just returning for a follow-up, there is no denying that going to the OBGYN can be nerve-wracking. Nothing quite compares to having your lady parts poked during “small talk.”

Jokes aside, going to the OBGYN is a nightmare for some ladies, which might explain why there can be a delay in seeking help for symptoms (not necessarily Endometriosis) and why patients fail to ask the really important questions. Read on for tips and tricks on how to make an OBGYN appointment a little less stressful.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral.

If you’re not satisfied with the answers or treatment you’re getting from your OBGYN, you have every right to ask for a referral to an NHS (for the UK readers) or private provider of gynecology services. Even if asking makes you feel nervous, it’s an important first step. Some places will even let you specify which consultant you’d like to see.

Remember, it’s your right to choose.

Remember, patients have the right to choose where they’ll receive treatment. This means you should take advantage of your resources by checking out local reviews. (The NHS website lists plenty!) So, if you’re not sure about who you are seeing or want to know what other patients think of the hospital you’re visiting, click on the links to see what others have written. (You can also access reviews via the online booking platform Zocdoc.)

Do your research.

Even before you get a referral lined up, you can often find information on the doctors’ online, both on the NHS site and on private practice sites. This can be beneficial if you’re looking for a specialist. Remember, Endo specialists/centers are preferable for the diagnosis and management of Endometriosis. You can usually read if an OBGYN is a specialist in their biography listed on the center’s website. If you’re unable to find any information, it’s your right to contact the office and ask.

It’s also important to keep in mind that specialists are harder to get a hold of. For example, at the start of this year, I had to be referred to a new gynecology service at a new hospital because my previous doctor was leaving. The new lady I saw openly admitted she wasn’t an Endometriosis specialist and could not offer me the major surgery I needed, so she referred me to the biggest Endometriosis center in my region.

Preparation is key!

Before I head to an appointment – particularly the first gynecologist appt that led to my diagnosis – I write a list of questions on my phone or on a piece of paper that I want to make sure I ask. At my first appointment, I took a list of symptoms I’d been experiencing (it was more like a diary of symptoms) and I’d encourage anyone to do the same. Having everything on paper meant I didn’t leave anything out and my gynecologist was able to really understand my problems and I was able to answer any specific questions she had for me. If you need help, the UK charity Endometriosis UK has a few templates that you can download and use for free.

Keeping a record or diary of symptoms can also help you even after a confirmed diagnosis of Endometriosis – you can identify when any treatments are not working (e.g. contraceptive pills) or if symptoms return after surgery. It’s something you can always refer back to and take with you to any future appointments – gynecologist or not.

Bring someone with you – support is important.

Sometimes I find that my hospital appointments can be really overwhelming, especially if I’m being asked a lot of questions or being told a lot of information. So, I always ask my husband to come along with me. Having that extra person to take on the same information that I’m taking on is really useful, as I often come home and will have forgotten at least one thing they’ve said!

If none of your friends or family – or no one you’re comfortable with – is able to attend with you, then you can either take a notepad and pen to jot down whatever you’re being told (some consultants I’ve found will write things down for you), or ask for a hospital chaperone to attend with you.

After your appointment, you should receive a detailed letter from your doctor that outlines what was discussed and what the plan is. If you don’t receive this letter, or you’re in need of clarity, call their secretary.

Be honest.

Being probed in detail about your sex life or menstrual cycle may feel unpleasant and embarrassing, but the answers can often be the key to a diagnosis or the right treatment.

Sometimes it’s about finding the courage and being honest – the gynecologist is only trying to get the information he or she needs to help you. They’ve probably heard it all before, anyway!

Here are a few questions your doctor may ask you:

  • How long does your menstrual cycle usually last?
  • How heavy is your flow?
  • Do you experience clotting?
  • How would you describe the pain?
  • When do you experience the pain?
  • Do you have pain during intercourse?
  • Is there a particular position during intercourse that is painful?
  • Have you had any change to your bowels or bladder?
  • Are you having problems getting pregnant?

Time for THAT examination…

Although being examined down below isn’t exactly a pleasant experience, it is an essential part of a gynecological appointment.

First of all, you have every right to have a chaperone attend your physical examination. This can be a designated nurse in the department or a friend/family member you’ve bought with you. You also have the right to refuse examination.

The best way to prepare for this part? Do what is comfortable for you. If this means shaving your downstairs so you’re looking nice and tidy, go for it. If this means wearing your best knickers and matching socks, do that too. If this means having a conversation about anything other than what’s about to happen, do that as well. Most gynecologists are aware of how patients might feel about internal examinations and are really good at distracting and reassuring patients.

And when it comes to the ACTUAL internal examination happening – breathe. Taking regular, deep breaths will help you (and your pelvic floor) relax, making the examination that bit easier and hopefully more comfortable. You could even have that distracting conversation or count to 100 to try and take your mind off of it. But if it is hurting or you want to stop, it is super important to tell your gynecologist – they’ll listen.

Make sure you leave the appointment satisfied.

There were times in my initial journey to get a diagnosis that I left appointments completely clueless and dissatisfied with my treatment – a combination of healthcare professionals lack understanding, experience, and my own perseverance. To avoid future disappointment, I make sure I ask and clarify any information I am not sure of (again, having that list of questions prepared beforehand really helps).

If you’re in a situation where you’re unhappy during your appointment, make sure you ask the gynecologist to clarify or explain whatever it is you’re unsure about, and ask as many questions as you feel are needed. If you leave your appointment unhappy, then you have the right to seek a second opinion, or even make a complaint.

Here in the UK, the NHS has a PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) department where concerns and complaints are handled. Personally, I have had to contact PALS on a couple of occasions related to my appointment outcomes and each time they have been very good at helping me sort it out.

I would encourage anyone who is unhappy or dissatisfied with their care to speak out – it’s important!

Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion!

I know I am repeating the phrase “you have every right to…” but that’s because it is your right. If you want a second opinion, then you have the right to have one. Whilst this may mean waiting for another referral or consultant, it’ll be worth it in the long run.

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