Don’t Be Worried about Your First Gynaecological Examination

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Don’t Be Worried about Your First Gynaecological ExaminationFist bump emoji

So you’re probably getting in a bit of a state about your first visit to the gynaecologist. BUT we’re here to say that you may actually end up being really glad you went! It’s a chance to ask all of those questions you have about your how your body changes during puberty and to find a doctor you’ll want to talk to about private issues.

You don’t really need to do anything before a visit or examination (an "internal"). But you might want to write down when your periods started, when your last period was and how often you have them.

Post It

You could also write down questions so you don’t forget them.

Maybe you’re wondering about your breast growth, growing pains, your first period, how your menstrual cycle works or the Pill. There really is no question that is too strange. “We’re pretty impossible to shock,” says Melisa Holmes, M.D., who co-wrote Girlology Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups, and Holding Out: Stuff You Need to Know About Your Body, Sex & Dating.

What Happens During a Pelvic Exam

“I love being able to do a girl’s first pelvic, so I can help her to realise that it’s not a big deal,” says gynaecologist Holmes. “First, I show her the speculum we use on teenagers — it’s about the size of a super tampon.”

When it’s time for your first internal pelvic exam, you’ll lie on your back, your bottom near to the end of the examination table. You might need to put your feet into two metal stirrups so that your legs are bent and spread apart. You might be asked to wear a paper robe and you will have a sheet covering you for privacy. There are two parts of the exam:

Vagina and cervix exam

The gynaecologist will insert a closed speculum — a metal or plastic gadget that looks kind of like tongs — into your vagina. Then the doctor opens the speculum to hold the vaginal walls apart, in order to get a good look inside to make sure that the walls, discharge and cervix look healthy. If you are 25 or older, or it’s been about three years after you first had sex, the doctor may use a small brush to take some cells from your cervix for a Pap (cervical) smear.

Bi-manual exam

After removing the speculum, the gynaecologist will slide one or two gloved and lubricated fingers into your vagina. With the other hand, the doctor presses on your abdomen from the outside. In this way, the doctor can check that your fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries are in the right position, and that there are no swellings or growths. The doctor is also checking for pain. When you book your exam, ask the doctor’s office what you should do if you’re having your period. Some doctors may ask you to reschedule if your period is heavy. Menstrual blood can interfere with the results of a Pap smear.

3 Ways to Relax During a Gynaecological Exam

A pelvic exam may be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. The key is to relax. Dr Holmes offers these tips if you have the jitters during an exam:

  • Do deep, slow breathing.
  • Let your legs relax and open as far as they will go.
  • Don’t squeeze your bottom cheeks together. “If you squeeze your bottom, it squeezes around the speculum,” she says.

Confidentiality and Talking Honestly

Remember, anything you discuss with your gynaecologist about your body, sex or any other private matter is totally confidential. If your mum comes with you to your visit, the gynaecologist will probably ask her to leave the room while you talk about some of these things. It’s important to be honest because many things can affect your female health — and your health as a whole!

Were you scared about your first gynae exam?

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