June 28, 2002 at 7:56 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 11:52 PM
Going to the gynecologist for the first time can be a daunting experience,
but that first visit is an important one. From the best time to go to what to expect during the first visit, it helps to be prepared.
Like many women, Jennifer Adiletto
paid her first visit to the gynecologist when she was 18. "The reason why I started going is because when you turn 18, it's considered, like, 'the age'," explains Jennifer. But 18 isn't necessarily the best age for all women.
"The first age should be when the, for a pap smear, is when a patient becomes sexually active or at the age of 18, whichever is sooner. That's for a pap smear. The first gyn visit should be 13 to 15 years," advises gynecologist, Meena Khandelwal, M.D
.This introductory visit serves as a primer on what to expect during future exams. Other subjects range from nutrition to sexual disease prevention. "When I was, you know, was my turn to go to the doctor... So nervous. You know, you don't know who to talk to, where to go," remembers Jennifer. Her family physician referred her to a gynecologist, one she says she's been seeing ever since, "She just talked to me a little bit, you know, about my history... any medications I was taking and things like that."
Next comes the physical exam, which takes less than 5 minutes to complete. "She had to do a breast examination," says Jennifer, "and then she did a pelvic exam, and then she had to do the annual pap exam."
Regular pap exams can catch pre-cancerous cells at an early, treatable stage.
"It was just like okay, bump, you're done, thank you very much," describes Jennifer, "She walks out... Put your clothes back on and you know, schedule an appointment for next year."
But it's o
ne yearly exam that can help women stay healthy for life.
Other ways to make your first trip easier include choosing your gynecologist carefully, trying to learn as much as possible about them (even meeting them) before your appointment. Also, ask your friends and family members about their experiences with their gynecologist.