The appointment and after the visit
The first part of your gynecologist appointment will go much like any other doctor’s appointment. Your gynecologist will take some basic medical information and talk through your health history before leaving the room and giving you a hospital gown. Then it’s time for the stirrups: you’ll scoot your butt to the edge of the examining table with your feet in the stirrups so your gynecologist can get a good look at the exterior of your vagina. They’ll be investigating for things like warts, cuts, and abnormal hair growth. Make sure you are completely honest with your gynecologist about your health history, as this will affect your treatment. Your gynecologist is required by law to protect the privacy of your information, even from your parents. Further, you can’t treat any problems you hide from your doctor, so get your money and time’s worth out of your appointment by being as honest as you can. As difficult as it can be to open up about sex and menstruation, it’s your gynecologist’s job to talk about these things—your most embarrassing questions are their everyday job!
The speculum is a duck-billed device that is lubricated and inserted about ⅔ of the way into the vagina to help gynecologists examine the cervix. For many women, the speculum is the most uncomfortable aspect of a gyne appointment. The speculum holds the vagina open, which can produce discomfort in some women, typically in the form of pressure. However, the speculum will only remain inserted for about one minute, so this discomfort should be brief, if you feel it at all. If you’re really worried about the speculum being painful, you can ask your gynecologist to use the smallest speculum available. If you’re sexually active or 21 and older, your gynecologist will likely perform a pap smear, an exam that tests for cell abnormalities in the cervix. To conduct the pap smear, your doctor will swab cells from inside of your cervix while the speculum is inserted.
The bimanual exam is a manual test of your reproductive organs for abnormalities like cysts. To conduct the bimanual exam, your gynecologist will insert two gloved, lubricated fingers inside of your vagina and feel around while the other hand presses down on your abdomen. This is another part of the exam that can make people feel uncomfortable, however, it shouldn’t be painful. If it is, tell your gynecologist immediately. The entire bimanual exam should take one minute or less
Keep in mind that your gynecologist visit might include a breast exam, in which your doctor will feel your breasts and upper arms for lumps
After the Visit
After your appointment, you might get a call from the doctor’s office with results from any of the tests run following your exam. It typically takes 1 day to 2 weeks to get results from an STI test, and 1-3 weeks to get results from a pap smear. Many offices won’t call you if test results are normal, so confirm whether this is the case before you leave your appointment. It also might be a good idea to schedule your next appointment before you leave the office. Pap smears and pelvic exams are recommended every three years for sexually active women over the age of 21, but it’s better to see your gynecologist yearly to check in.