When I ask my doctor if you can really get pregnant from a jacuczzi.
It happens to me every time. I turn up to my annual gyno appointment with a list of questions I’ve been meaning to ask, and by the time I’ve flipped through 6 old issues of People Magazine, waited for the nurse to take my blood pressure (why do they always leave you in the room for so long? I am always sure they have forgotten about me, and I’ll have to survive on those mints you get at the front desk overnight), taken my clothes off and put on the gown, my gyno finally arrives and asks, “So, how’s it all going?” And I reply, “All fine, thanks.”
Then I’m back out the door, praying the receptionists don’t sting me with a charge for something weird, and I’m off! It’s fine, I think to myself, I’ll ask those questions next year.
So, in the interest of maximizing your time at the doctor (because, we know, it’s expensive, and doesn’t happen as regularly as it should) we asked our fave ob/gyn, Dr. Angela, about what you should be asking your ob/gyn next time you’re in the stirrups.
1. What kind of doctor are you, how long have you been practicing, and are you board certified? (OK that’s 3)
Mostly, I choose my doctors on proximity to my apartment/office, a reasonable amount of positive Yelp/ZocDoc reviews, and #doyoutakemyinsurance. But Dr. Angela suggests you be a little more discerning about who is getting up in your business. Your ob/gyn should be up on “the latest and greatest with regards to guidelines, standard of care practices, and recommendations. There is nothing worse than someone practicing “dated” medicine.” Are they an obstetrician *and* a gyno? Depending on where you’re at in your ~life cycle~ it might be important to know “if you plan on having children, you do not want to have to switch ob/gyns because yours no longer delivers babies. Talk about a pain and real hassle.” And, Dr. Angela adds, “Call me old school, but there is something to be said about experience……PRICELESS!”
2. Who are your patients?
Another “getting to know you” question, but Dr. Angela thinks this is a good way to get a sense of your ob/gyn’s practice. “Do they serve the elderly? Young? LGBTQ? Patient diversity will give you some clues as to your physician’s level of acceptance to certain societal norms, as well as their knowledge base in dealing with certain issues that affect specific populations.” You don’t want to find out your doctor is not down with your girlfriend or won’t give you all the birth control options you want.
Dr Angela also recommends asking your doctor what their broader interests are. ”It’s important for you to vibe with your ob/gyn as you are trusting them with some pretty personal/pertinent details of your life! You need to ensure that this is someone who you trust, feel comfortable with, can confide in. You are doing yourself a grave disservice if you don’t feel comfortable talking about anything and everything with your gynecologist. I’m jus sayin’... If you don’t feel comfortable talking about that weird vaginal discharge, or the fact that your sexual practices/preferences may be a bit left of center due to fear of being judged, you probably don’t have the right ob/gyn.”
3. When should I get a pap smear? When should I get tested for HPV?
Depending on your age and sexual activity, the answer to this will vary. Dr. Angela notes that, typically, you won’t need a pap smear until 21, and co-testing (eg. paps with testing for hpv) doesn’t have to happen until you’re 30. Why? “Primarily because most young, healthy folks can rid themselves of HPV, and not testing until 30 has led to a decrease in OVER treatment.” The American Cancer Society agrees!
4. What birth control is right for me?
It’s never too late to discuss your birth control options, even if you’ve been on the pill, or using condoms, for like everrrrr. What was good for you at 16 might not be the same at 26 or 36 or 46, and as birth control tech is always changing, it never hurts to check in with your doc about your options. Hey, you may even learn a thing or two, or even debunk a couple myths! As Dr. Angela reminds us, gaining weight while on the pill “is a HUGE concern amongst patients; especially my younger patients. But oral contraceptive pills don’t make you gain weight! No more than the normal 5 pounds that most women gain due to hormonal changes that occur around the time of their menses.”
5. When should I stop taking birth control (if I’m thinking about starting a family)?
“Not until you are ready to have a baby!” says Dr Angela. “Things such as oral contraceptive pills, iuds, etc are readily reversible. When you decide you are ready to have kids, stop using your current method of contraception and replace it with a prenatal vitamin. Sometimes things happen a lot sooner than you would expect.” Eep. Noted.What other questions do you always forget to ask your ob/gyn? And any health care professionals reading this blog, what Qs would you most like to hear from your patients?