Facing a pelvic exam can prompt feelings of fear or anxiety. In one study, over half of the women surveyed felt anxiety or worry. A mix of the unknown, past experiences or the intimate nature of the procedure often fuels gynecologist anxiety.
If you notice these feelings as your next appointment approaches, you can take steps to help yourself relax. Practical stress-relieving tips for pelvic exams, like using a comfortable speculum and implementing breathing techniques, can reduce stress and help you feel in control of your reproductive health.
Identify Your Fears
Identify the root of your anxieties. Is it the potential physical discomfort or worries about what the exam might reveal? By naming and acknowledging these fears, you can better manage them.
Share your concerns with your doctor before your exam. Medical professionals are trained to help address these fears. They can often offer solutions or accommodations, like allowing you to listen to music during the procedure to make the process smoother and less anxiety-inducing.
Have a List of Questions Ready
Being proactive is empowering. Before heading to the clinic, prepare a list of questions or concerns you might have regarding the examination. Not only does this ensure you won’t forget to discuss your concerns, but it also helps you feel in control.
Knowing that you’re equipped with the right questions makes the experience feel less passive and more within your control. Possible questions may include:
- What exactly will the exam entail step-by-step?
- How long does the typical pelvic exam last?
- What should I do if I feel pain or discomfort during the procedure?
- Are there any specific precautions I should take before or after the exam?
- How and when will I receive the results and how do you treat common abnormalities?
Bring Your Phone or Tablet
Distractions can be therapeutic. Whether it’s calming music, an engaging podcast or an absorbing series, having something to focus on other than the exam can be a big help. This bit of familiarity in a clinical setting can be immensely comforting. It serves as a gentle reminder of the world outside, helping reduce the stress of the moment.
One study found that nature-based sounds are especially calming during pelvic exams. Consider listening to your favorite combination of nature noise using phone apps like Calm or your favorite rain ambiance video on YouTube.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are powerful tools for relaxation. Deep, rhythmic breaths can signal to your nervous system that it’s time to calm down. Even just 5-minute cycles of breathwork can help you effectively reduce stress by lowering your respiratory rate and improving your mood.
Spend a few minutes before the exam practicing: inhale deeply through your nose for a count of five, hold for another five and then exhale slowly through your mouth for a final count of five. This simple exercise can be a grounding force, reminding you to stay present and relaxed.
Use a Modern Speculum
Traditional speculums can be a primary source of discomfort in pelvic exams, with up to 68% of women feeling pain or unease. To help create a relaxed atmosphere, you can use the Nella, a modern, disposable speculum with light. This tool was created to provide all women, including girls at their first pelvic exam to women experiencing menopause with a better gynecological experience.
Crafted from a comfortable, medical-grade polymer, it’s temperature-neutral and smooth, ensuring a gentler touch. With a design as narrow as a tampon and silent in its operation, Nella offers a more patient-centered, serene examination experience.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
The clothes you wear can impact your mental state. Wearing outfits that are loose and easy to remove can minimize physical discomfort. You’re already stepping into a vulnerable situation; being in comfortable attire ensures you feel as secure and at ease as possible. This physical comfort can lead to mental relief, making the process smoother.
When you buy the Nella Comfort Kit, you receive a pair of purple fuzzy socks designed specifically for this purpose. Slipping into them keeps your feet warm in the exam room and can help remind you of home, making your time in the stirrups feel more familiar and comforting.
Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Try implementing progressive muscle relaxation techniques while at your appointment. You can start this process in the waiting room and continue it on the exam table. This technique involves consciously tensing and then relaxing various muscle groups.
Starting from your feet and progressing upwards to your head helps divert the focus from anxiety to the physical act of relaxation. By the time you reach the top, you’ll often find that both your body and mind feel more at ease. It’s a practical method to release pent-up tension and foster a sense of calm before the examination.
Help Yourself Relax During Your Pelvic Exam
Undergoing a pelvic exam can often bring about feelings of anxiety and discomfort. However, with the right mindset, preparation and tools, you can transform this experience into a more relaxed and manageable one.Help yourself relax during your pelvic exam with our modern, disposable speculum created for women like you. Order a Comfort Kit for an upcoming appointment. You can have it delivered directly to your provider’s office or your home. You might also refer your doctor to us or book a check-up with a clinician near you who already uses Nella.