Whether it’s your first pelvic exam or you’ve been consistent with your OB/GYN visits, you may feel nervous as your gynecologist appointment approaches. Gynecology exams are a source of anxiety for up to 64% of patients, with accompanying feelings of embarrassment, fear and pain.
While gynecology appointments in the past typically included cold, hard speculums, advancements in design and materials are changing this aspect of the pelvic exam. New speculum tools are helping reduce gynecologist anxiety by offering a more comfortable experience.
If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming visit to your OB/GYN, here are four tips that can help you feel comfortable with the procedure, including talking to your doctor about our modern speculum:
Educating yourself about what to expect during a visit to the OB/GYN can reduce feelings of anxiety or discomfort. Here are a few ways to become more informed:
- Learn about the procedures. Understand standard procedures such as pelvic exams, Pap smears, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and what they entail. Knowing the purpose and steps involved can demystify the process and ease your mind.
- Understand the tools. Call your provider before your appointment to ask about the tools used during an exam. If your doctor uses cold metal or hard plastic speculums, speak to them about using a slimmer, temperature-neutral disposable speculum to reduce the likelihood of discomfort or pain during the exam.
- Know your health history. Brush up on your medical and sexual history, including instances of high blood pressure or breast cancer in family members. This knowledge can guide your doctor in recommending appropriate care, such as a breast exam or Pap smear.
- Prepare questions in advance. Write down any questions or concerns you have before your appointment. Having a list can help ensure you don’t forget to ask about something important during the visit.
Open communication with your OB/GYN helps you receive comprehensive and tailored care. Here’s how you can communicate openly and effectively:
- Be honest. Share your health history, symptoms, sexual activity and health problems. Remember, OB/GYNs are professionals trained to handle sensitive topics without judgment.
- Ask questions. Ask questions, no matter how trivial or embarrassing they may seem. Ask for clarification if you’re unsure about a procedure, term or medical advice.
- Express concerns. If you’re anxious about a procedure or a diagnosis, express this to your doctor. They can provide additional information or reassurance, such as explaining the purpose of a tool or having you take a deep breath and relax your pelvic muscles before inserting a speculum with light.
- Discuss discomfort. If something hurts or feels uncomfortable during an exam, speak up. Your doctor can often make adjustments to alleviate discomfort.
The timing of your appointment can impact your comfort and ease during an OB/GYN visit. Think about the following when scheduling your exam:
- Consider your cycle. Schedule routine exams when you’re not on your period unless the visit is for a specific issue related to your menstrual cycle. This can make the exam more comfortable for you and easier for the doctor and ensure accuracy for tests like Pap smears.
- Avoid busy days. Schedule your appointment when you don’t have any other stressful obligations. Having ample time before and after the visit can reduce stress and make the experience more relaxed.
- Mind your body’s schedule. Be aware of your body’s rhythms. Schedule an early appointment if you’re typically more relaxed in the morning. Consider an afternoon visit if it takes a while to feel fully awake.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Choosing comfortable attire for your OB/GYN visit can contribute to a more relaxed experience during the appointment. Here are some tips for choosing suitable clothing:
- Loose-fitting clothes. Choose clothes that are easy to take off and put on, without buttons, zippers or clasps. A loose dress or a top with pants or a skirt can make getting dressed and undressed simpler and quicker.
- Layer appropriately. Depending on the weather and the temperature of the clinic, wear layers, like a t-shirt and jacket, that you can easily remove or add. For instance, bring comfortable socks made of fuzzy, warm material that you can put on if your feet get cold during the exam.
- Simple undergarments. Opt for simple, comfortable undergarments like a sports bra and cotton panties. They are easier to remove for pelvic exams where you need to change into a gown.
- Easy footwear. Select shoes that are easy to slip off, like sandals or slip-on shoes. Since you’ll need to position your feet in stirrups during the exam, easily removable footwear can simplify the process.
Don’t Put Off Your Exam: Use a Nella Speculum for Ultimate Comfort
For young women and those going through menopause, feeling apprehensive about undergoing a pelvic exam is completely normal. Thankfully, modern healthcare supports more open communication and patient-centered services, allowing you control over certain aspects of your care.
At Nella, we encourage women to take charge of their reproductive health. Our specially designed speculum is made of medical-grade polymer and features a slim, tampon-sized insert that supports your comfort during gynecological exams.Check out our list of providers that currently use the Nella or use our discussion guide to help you talk to your doctor about using Nella during your exam. Order the Nella Comfort Kit and have it shipped to your provider’s address or your home to help you feel relaxed and at ease at your OB/GYN appointment.