Guide to your first gynecologist appointment
It’s time. You’re home from college and your mother is reminding you that it’s time to go to the long-awaited, overly-dreaded first adult gynecologist appointment. You may be itching with anticipatory anxiety of talking to a doctor about your sex life, or lack thereof. I definitely was. I begged my mom to go with me and then decided at the last minute it would be umpteen-million-more times uncomfy with her sitting there. So let’s chat about it, minimize the nerves, and walk through allll the deets of what your first OBGYN appointment will likely look like.
When should I go?
Sooo this is an important question. It’s a good idea to go to the gynecologist before you head off to college at 18, or before if you’re sexually active. In this FIRST first appointment, the doctor will briefly chat with you about your period, whether you’re sexually active, and your birth control if it applies.
The doctor will also be able to answer any questions you may have about your period, body, or sex in general! If you have heavy or irregular periods, hormonal acne, uncomfortable itching, or anything in between the doctor can run tests, prescribe medications, and answer any questions. There will very likely not be a vaginal exam at this appointment.
My first gynecologist appointment was at 16, right after I became sexually active. It was a quick chat about my birth control, period patterns, and safe sex practices. I kept my clothes on the whole time and it was very simple and straightforward.
After this, your first grown-up gyno appointment should occur once you turn 21. This appointment will include a vaginal and breast exam, a pap smear, and the same open convo. In the rest of this article, we will be talking about your first OBGYN appointment that includes an exam.
What does ‘sexually active’ actually mean?
Being sexually active does not mean you have to be having penetrative sex. Healthcare providers define sexual activity as any form of sexual contact with another person. This could be anything from touching and fingering to oral to penetrative sex. It is important to be honest with your doctor about your sexual activity.
How to prepare?
Is there anything you need to do before your first gynecologist appointment? Should you bring anything? What should you wear? Should you shave?
If you want to be prepared, come with some questions for the doctor! Just like on Real Talk, nothing is TMI in the gynecologist’s office. They have heard and seen everything. And keeping this in mind, no you definitely do not have to shave. However you normally take care of your body is perfectly fine. The most important thing here is that you feel your most comfortable. If you want to bring something, bring a book to read while you’re waiting for your appointment. My least favorite part of the gynecologist is the waiting.
What sorts of questions should I ask the gynecologist?
Any questions you have about your vagina, sex, hormones, even acne! If you have a bump, unusual discharge, or a smell down there that you’re worried about, this is the right place to ask. Do you want to know why you keep getting UTIs or yeast Infections? Is your period abnormal? What STI symptoms should you be on the watch for? Just like with Real Talk, nothing is TMI with your gynecologist.
How often do I have to see the gynecologist after my first appointment?
After your first adult appointment at 21, you should add the gyno to your yearly check-up schedule.
Is what I talk about with the gynecologist confidential? Do they tell my parents?
Yes, what you talk about with the gynecologist is confidential! You should feel 100% comfortable talking with them about your sex life, and asking any sexual or vaginal questions. They will not disclose info to your parents unless you give them your permission.
What is a pap smear? When do I get them and how often?
A pap smear is a test where cells are taken from the cervix to check for abnormalities that may indicate cervical cancer. A speculum is inserted into the vagina and then the cells are scraped with a small brush. While this process can be a bit uncomfy, it is super quick and definitely necessary. Pap smears are recommended every 1-3 years after the age of 21, to check up on the health of your cervix! We promise, it’s not that bad.
How can I find a gynecologist?
Your primary care provider is a fantastic resource for finding a gynecologist! They can refer you to local doctors. Another great way to find a gynecologist is through word of mouth. Who do your friends go to, your mom, your neighbors? A simple google search and scroll through doctor profiles can also point you in the right direction!