For many women, there’s a lot of anxiety around their annual gynecologist appointment because let’s face it, your OB/GYN oversees a very, uh, intimate part of your wellbeing. However, once a year every female needs to put on that pink hospital gown and face the stirrups. It can be uncomfortable but it’s an important and necessary part of life, which is why establishing a healthy relationship with your OB/GYN is the key to receiving excellent care from your doctor. Eva Martin, MD, OB/GYN at Main Line Health Center in Broomall discusses how to establish a strong relationship with your doctor early on.
“Step one in establishing a good relationship with your OB/GYN is find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable,” Dr. Martin says.
Use your OB/GYN as a resource
OB/GYN are health professionals but they are also resources full of answers to the many questions you may have about your sexual health, including the questions you don’t want to ask even your closest friends. For example, you’ve had multiple partners, experienced infidelity, you didn’t use contraception, you think you’ve been exposed to an STI, you’re experiencing heavy bleeding, you’re wondering why you experience pain during intercourse, you have a questionable ingrown pubic hair—whatever it is.
Any personal matter regarding your sex life and your relationships—be that the good, bad or the ugly—your doctor has seen it all and is there to help. That being said, find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable enough to confide that information. If you’re not comfortable with your doctor, chances are you’re not going to be completely honest with them. And if you’re not honest with your doctor, then you and your health could suffer.
Talk about your values
Dr. Martin says find a doctor who understands your values. A lot of young women first see their OB/GYN when they want to start birth control. If you visit your gynecologist to talk about birth control options, your values are going to play into that conversation. For example, some women are comfortable with birth control pills but not as comfortable with the idea of an IUD. Later, if a woman decides to have children a conversation about their values is bound to be revisited. It helps to have a mutual understanding with a doctor who knows you and your history.
Dr. Martin says many women are scared of what to expect or of asking questions. It’s really important to talk about problems or concerns about your sexual health. If you don’t understand something, your doctor can counsel you through any uncertainty.
“The ideal doctor/ patient relationship is one based on communication and mutual respect.” The patient needs to weigh what’s important to them and the doctor needs to consider what’s in the patient’s best medical interest.
“You can always call your doctor if you have questions. You’re not a burden, your doctor is here to help you,” Dr. Martin says.
Don’t be embarrassed
Your OB/GYN is not there to judge you or make you feel embarrassed. “A lot of women are nervous or anxious but this is our job,” Dr. Martin says. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” In fact, a lot of women don’t know what’s normal. Part of an OB/GYN’s job is educating patients about their sexual health. It’s just one more reason to find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable.