Remember all the apprehension you had before you went to the gynecologist for the first time? Younger generations may have less anxiety over it if the authors of a new survey get their way.
They found that about 40 percent of young women were concerned and anxious about what would go on during their first exam. They’re hoping that this knowledge will empower women to seek out a consultation prior to an exam for the first visit. They say that may ease the anxiety young women have over the visit so they can relax enough to ask questions and get answers.
According to the survey, women were worried about what would happen during the exam, who would be in the room and what questions the doctor would ask.
You know how it goes—once you’re in “the gown,” it can be all downhill from there. Most of us are focused on muddling through the exam and too uncomfortable to engage in discussion. As a result, we neglect to ask questions or bring up important topics with our doctors.
I fell into this category of women who have anxiety in medical settings—still do. That’s why I either talk to my doctor prior to the exam or ask her to come back after so we can talk.
I was lucky enough to have a supportive professional. I chose a midwife—not a gynecologist—for my first exam. I asked if we could just talk the first time I went in order to express my anxieties. She was wonderful. (I haven’t left the midwives practice either, which came in handy because I had a baby this past summer!)
Not all women are empowered enough to speak up. I had to; in my case, I had a crippling anxiety disorder when I first started going for exams. The only way to get the medical care I needed was to make sure it went at my pace.
I wish more women did this, which is why I’m so encouraged by this survey and what the authors are hoping will change as a result of it.
Professionals at Orlando Health, which conducted the survey, are encouraging girls and their parents to speak with their OBGYN in a non-clinical setting before their first exam. Establishing an open dialogue with their physician helps them know what to expect, what is and is not appropriate during an exam, and anything else they may be worried about.
“This is about empowering young women to take control of their health and know that they have the power in the exam room,” said Christine Greves, M.D., an OBGYN at Orlando Health. “Giving them a safe space to talk about any of their fears and hesitations allows them to build confidence in their ability to speak up in a medical setting.”
“Helping a woman establish an ongoing relationship with her doctor could make her more likely to get the recommended annual care and to ask about anything out of the ordinary that is happening with her health,” said Greves. “These pre-exam meetings are something more young women should be asking for, and most OBGYN offices will be happy to make that appointment for them.”