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Going to the Gynecologist in to ask the Experts

Getting Ready For The Pelvic Exam--Asking Questions

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Shower or bathe on the morning of the pelvic exam . It’s just good hygiene, and at least you won’t be angst-ing about THAT.

If you use douches, DON’T use one at least 24 hours before a pelvic exam . It could mess up your Pap smear or make it hard to detect a vaginal infection.

If you get your period the day of the appointment—cancel it and reschedule it for a week or two. Or you could decide to go and just use the time to talk.

Write down the date of your last period. You should be keeping track of your menstrual cycle. (Check out the BeingGirl Period Predictor [link to Period Predictor]—it’s a great tool for charting your period.) You could also write a list of any symptoms that are bothering you to bring to the pelvic exam.

Asking questions
A pelvic exam  is a great opportunity to practice talking about your health. For generations, people never questioned doctors about procedures or medications. Dumb! So ask questions like your health depends on it—it does.

Before you go, make a list of questions to ask. Read the sections on Menstruation or Female Anatomy [Link to ART275] to get a clear picture of what’s going on—and get clear on your questions or concerns.

You can ask your questions before the actual pelvic exam, when you’re first meeting with the doctor, during the pelvic exam, or after. NEVER be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t feel comfortable asking or if the doctor isn’t answering your questions, you may want to change doctors. You want to be able to ask questions and feel that your doctor is really listening. With any doctor, you should ask what exams they will be doing, why, what the medications are for and what you can expect.

So here’s a checklist of info and things you might want to bring to your pelvic exam :

• The dates of your last period
• The length of your periods and your cycle
• A list of questions for the doctor and any issues you’d like to discuss
• The names of any medications that you’re taking. (Write down the name of the medication and the dose, or just put the bottle in your purse and show the doctor)

You may have questions about STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), birth control, or pregnancy. Your doctor can answer specific questions, and probably give you brochures and info on these topics. But you have to remember to ask, so write it down.

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