Women's wellness exams can protect women from dangerous cancers. They can also help women address painful conditions like endometriosis and infertility. However, some women hesitate to seek gynecological care due to fear or stigma surrounding the female reproductive system. These are four tips that can help you feel comfortable seeking gynecological care so you can prioritize your health:
1. You can ask your gynecologist to use your preferred pronouns.
People of many different gender identities require gynecological care. Anyone with a cervix should receive pap smears on a regular basis in order to prevent cervical cancer. However, some transgender people avoid seeking gynecological care due to feelings of gender dysphoria. Gynecologists are sensitive to the needs of their patients. If you identify as transgender or nonbinary, you can request that your doctor refers to you by your preferred pronouns throughout your exam to reduce feelings of dysphoria.
2. You can request a smaller speculum.
Every person's anatomy is different. People with smaller frames may feel discomfort during pelvic exams conducted with standard tools. If you struggle with pain during your pelvic exams, you can ask your gynecologist to use a smaller speculum. Some gynecologists even have warming devices that can be used to gently heat the specula and lubricant used during pelvic exams for greater comfort.
3. You can choose to have a nurse present during your examination.
Some patients feel uncomfortable being alone with gynecologists during pelvic exams. This is a common and understandable feeling, and patients should know that they can always request to have a nurse present during their exams. Your doctor will not feel offended if you request a female nurse to supervise your checkup. You can request a nurse to be present whether you have a male or female gynecologist. Many nurses are even willing to hold patients' hands to comfort them upon request.
4. You can ask your gynecologist to stop what they are doing at any time.
Gynecologists strive to help their patients feel safe and comfortable at all times. It's possible that some discomfort may arise during your appointment. However, you should remember that you can communicate with your doctor if you feel anxious or overwhelmed at any point during your exam. You can ask your gynecologist to pause while conducting your pelvic exam to give you time to adjust. Sometimes, a little time to calm down and take deep breaths is all that patients need to successfully complete their appointments. Of course, it's also okay to cut an appointment short. You can always reschedule your wellness exam for a day when you're feeling better.
To learn more, contact a gynecology service in your area such as FemmeWell.