presented by: Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C.
To those of you who have not made a trip to a gynecologist, the very thought of it probably makes you feel uncomfortable. Most of us are not even comfortable with looking at our own bodies, so baring it all in front of a physician you just met is not the most appealing idea. However, we at Henderson & Walton cannot stress to you enough how important it is to regularly see a gynecologist. Proper gynecological care helps prevent many undesired cancers, diseases, and other illnesses through early detection. Yes, your first gynecologist visit can be scary, but knowing how to prepare and what to expect can very beneficial
When to Visit. Our doctors recommend that your first visit be at the age of 21, or when you start becoming sexually active. Additionally, women and girls of any age need to visit their gynecologist if they notice irregularities in their breasts, genitalia, menstrual cycles, or if they become pregnant. Make sure you schedule your appointment when you will not be having your period. Bleeding can affect the accuracy of the test results. To be preventative and maintain your good health, visit your gynecologist once every year unless you are having problems or your doctor has advised otherwise.
Be prepared. Before your visit, look online at the practice’s website to see if you can get your paperwork online. At Henderson & Walton all your paperwork is accessible online and just needs to be completed and printed. Have your insurance card with you when you come in for your first visit so the receptionist can scan your card into your account and your insurance can be correctly billed. Most preventative visits are covered at no cost to you. Bring a list of any medications you are taking and the dosage. Be prepared to provide a urine sample, before you see the doctor.
Meeting with the Nurse & Medical Assistant. When you are called by the nurse, she will take your height and weight, and ask questions regarding your personal, family, sexual, and medical history. She will then instruct you to go to the bathroom to give a urine sample in cups provided in the bathrooms. Once completed, you will be called to a room, or if a room is not ready yet, you will be sent to the waiting room. Once in the room, the medical assistant will take your vital signs and instruct you to remove your clothing and cover with drapes once she has left the room. When you are ready, the doctor will come in to meet you and will only uncover areas needed for the examination.
Meeting the Doctor. Your first appointment is usually very simple, and your doctor will spend time getting to know you. The doctor will ask about you and your family’s medical history and your sexual health. It is very important to be honest. This will help the physician tailor the best treatment for you. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes if you are nervous, you forget what you want to ask your physician. Try writing down a list of your concerns.
The Exams. Each exam depends on your age, sexual history and whether or not you have any particular symptoms. Your physician will explain each part of the exam before he/she performs it. The following is a list of exams that may be performed:
Breast examination: Your doctor will exam your breasts to detect whether there are any lumps or abnormalities. Breast exams are one of the most important early breast cancer screenings.
Pap smear: During this routine screening procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and then examined for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. This test is performed on women over the age of 21.
Pelvic examination: A physical exam of your pelvic organs is performed based on your age, whether you are sexually active, and the extent of your symptoms.
Gynecological care is important, regardless of your age, marital status, or level of sexual activity. Your first appointment may be nerve-wracking, but being prepared and having the knowledge of what to expect will help. It’s important that you find a gynecologist you trust and one that you feel comfortable with. We understand the importance of having the right gynecologist and we have 11 physicians to select from.
-Henderson and Walton Women’s Center
The physicians of Henderson & Walton Women’s Center, P.C. are accepting new patients in their Birmingham, Alabaster, Chelsea, Cullman, Gadsden, Jasper and Tuscaloosa locations. Call 1-800-264-1075 to make your appointment. Visit www.hwwc.net to learn more about the practice, physicians, and services.
*This article is for educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, see your physician.