Gynaecological Care 101: All you need to know about your visit to the Gynaecologist

Posted on Sep 09, 2022

When should you see a gynecologist? If you’re a woman or a person with a female reproductive system, experts recommend that you start seeing a gynecologist when you become sexually active, or at least once before the age of 21. 

Good gynaec care is important for many reasons. We will briefly describe the basic reasons for a visit to your gynecologist, how to decide whether to see a gynecologist, what happens during a visit to a gynecologist, what to discuss, and how to be as comfortable as possible throughout the visit.


Common types of gynaec care

Good reasons to see your doctor include:

  • A Pap smear to help prevent cervical cancer (this screening test checks cells on the cervix for abnormalities or precancers)
  • Discussion on birth control options
  • Solutions for painful, heavy, or irregular periods
  • Changes in vaginal discharge, which could be a sign of a vaginal infection (for example, a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis)
  • Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis
  • Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), such as burning when you urinate, cloudy or bloody urine, urinating more often than usual or feeling an intense urge to urinate
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Rashes, bumps, or irritation on the vulva (outside portion of the vagina)
  • Perimenopause or menopause symptoms, such as irregular periods, hot flashes, or vaginal dryness.


What happens during a visit for gyn care?

Like any doctor, a gynecologist will ask questions about your medical history. Most times a full exam is done including a breast exam, belly exam, and pelvic exam. A pelvic exam involves examining the vulva and labia that form the outer genitals, inner thigh, and buttocks, and sometimes inner tissues inside the vagina also need to be examined. This exam can be slightly uncomfortable, with a pressure-like sensation, but should not be painful. You should always tell your provider if you are having pain during any part of the exam.

If you are experiencing symptoms, you may be tested for vaginal infections, STIs, or urinary tract infections. Any vulvar skin issues may require a small skin biopsy or sample of a lesion or bump.


What should you discuss during your visit?

There are a few important things to remember to discuss during your visit. It is best to write these down ahead of time, as people often feel nervous and anxious during these types of sensitive visits:

  • Your sexual history (number of partners, any concerns for exposure to STIs)
  • problems with leaking urine or difficulty controlling your urine
  • Low sex drive or desire to have sex
  • Discomfort or pain during sex
  • Heavy, painful, or irregular periods
  • Any vaginal odor, discomfort, or abnormal discharge
  • Rashes or bumps in the pelvic area
  • Concerns about or plans for having children in the future.


How can you make yourself as comfortable as possible during these visits?

It is normal to feel nervous. You’re discussing sensitive topics and may feel vulnerable and even uncomfortable during the exams. Here are a few strategies to try to maximize your comfort during these visits:

  • If you are anxious or nervous at gyn visits, let your provider know.
  • Ask all your questions before the start of the physical exam.
  • Tell the provider if this is your first pelvic exam.
  • If you have experienced sexual assault or trauma in the past, tell your provider that these types of exams may be difficult for you given your history.

Practice mindful breathing or other relaxation techniques during your exam.