Gynecology is a study of medicine that specializes in women’s health, especially that of the female reproductive system. Many gynecologists are also obstetricians or doctors who concentrate on treating pregnant women and delivering babies. Understanding when to schedule your first gynecology appointment can be important to your overall health as a woman.
Gynecologists help girls and women with issues that include the following:
• Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
• Polycystic ovary syndrome
• Cancers affecting the reproductive system and/or breasts
When Is Gynecology Right for You?
An adolescent girl should start seeing a gynecologist around the time that she starts having her period. The gynecologist can tell her what to expect as well as what is and isn’t normal. Most girls, for example, start menstruating about two years after their breasts start developing. If three or more years go by, and the girl hasn’t had her first period, it’s time to consult a doctor and check for congenital abnormalities.
What Can You Expect during Your First Gynecology Appointment?
The gynecologist will start by taking a detailed medical history. They will also ask about the medical history of the patient’s family, especially close female relatives. If the patient’s mother had a miscarriage or breast cancer, the gynecologist will want to know that. The gynecologist will also want to know if the patient has been sexually active, and they will ask about the patient’s periods.
After taking the patient’s history, the gynecologist will perform a physical. The first part will be a general physical during which the doctor will measure the patient’s height, weight, blood pressure, etc. After that, the doctor will examine the patient’s external genitalia to look for any abnormalities. This part of the exam should not hurt. If it does, the patient needs to say so, for pain may indicate a problem.
In some cases, the doctor may decide to perform a pelvic exam. The gynecologist may also recommend vaccines such as the one against the human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine can protect the patient from genital warts and certain types of cancer, particularly cancer of the cervix.
How Gynecology Can Address an STD
If the patient is worried that they might have contracted an STD, the gynecologists can administer tests to find out. In some cases, the tests resemble a Pap smear. In other cases, the gynecologist will take urine and/or blood samples. In all cases, the doctor will send the samples to the pathology lab. They will make arrangements to keep the results confidential. For example, they may ask the patient to come to their office, rather than have one of their staff phone them the results.