By Priya A. Shah
If you’re the type of person who freaks out at the at the thought of just making a gynecological appointment, then goes into denial, and pretends she never needs to see one — you’re not alone.
Ten years ago, I had my first (and only!) gynecological visit. It was so unpleasant in so many ways that the thought of making another appointment has been a BIG nope.
I was so nervous that I had a friend come with me as moral support. And the doctor — well, have you ever seen the movie, Matilda? You know the principal, Miss Trunchbull? Now imagine getting a gynecological exam by her. Yes, the doctor was that mean. And the exam was painful AF.
In fact, it was so painful that I couldn’t stop crying. And because I couldn’t stop crying, the doctor stopped examining me and said she didn’t want to deal with me anymore.
“That’s it. I’m done,” she said.
Confused, I asked if the exam was over.
“No, I’m not going to deal with this. When you’re ready, come back.”
She left the room. I spent a good 10 minutes sobbing.
After 10 years of Dr. Trunchbull haunting me, I’ve decided I’m no longer going to give this lady that power anymore. If you’re reading this with a huge ball of fear rolling around in your stomach, take a deep breath and stay with me.
Whether you’ve had a bad experience and it set you back 10 years, have never gone, or just the thought gives you anxiety for days — it’s okay. You are strong AF. And, sometimes, the strongest people need a little extra help.
Your overall health is important and should be a priority. Remember that even if you feel perfectly healthy, only regular checkups with a licensed professional can diagnose something going on under the surface down there.
Here are some things that you can start doing today (yes, today!) to make some mental and present progress.
Set aside 10 - 30 minutes daily for gyno thoughts
If you commit to setting aside at least 10 minutes a day to think about your mindset issues and fears, this can really help you move forward. If you have the time, make it 30 - 60 minutes a day.
If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing you spend a lot of time avoiding the uncomfortable feelings that come with visiting the gyno. When the feelings come up, don’t push them aside. Feel the feelings. Check in with yourself internally and see what’s up.
You can do a number of things during this time:
- Journal your fears, writing down your worst case scenario/your ideal situation
- Research, read articles, or create a mantra and repeat it to yourself
- Call and ask questions to different healthcare providers in your area
Ask friends for recs
Generally, I’ll trust my friends’ recommendations. If they swear by someone or something, I’ll be more likely to check it out. Tell your friends what you're going through (you know never if they’ve dealt with the same issues!) and ask if they can refer you.
Talk to someone
This can be a licensed professional, a friend, or family member. If you’ve had a traumatic experience or just feel deep anxiety, it will help to talk to someone. Friends and family are a great start. However, I highly recommend speaking with a licensed professional. Friends and fam can only help you so much. Sometimes you need a pro to help you dig deep and lift the fear or burden.
Check with your insurance
Have a chat with your insurance provider and see what’s covered. Sometimes they can even help with finding a healthcare provider. If you’re uninsured, do a little digging and see if you can find a clinic or facility that can help you out!
I love reading reviews for almost everything: restaurants, tourist attractions, and, obviously, gynos.
While reading reviews can put you at ease, make sure it doesn’t lead you down a rabbit hole. Keep in mind that some people just like to complain and some reviews may be inauthentic (i.e. if you write us a review, we’ll give you a $10 gift card to Chipotle).
Different people have different opinions on good bedside manner. Read the reviews, but don’t spend HOURS doing it! And while you’re at it, check out the doc’s creds (background, education, awards, etc.).
Make sure you’re comfortable with the office staff
Call around and get a vibe of the office staff. Are they friendly? Cold? Easy to work with? This can make such a big difference!
Ask someone to go with you
Whether it’s your partner, family member, or friend, it can be really helpful to have someone go with you. And if they’re comfortable being in the room with you and holding your hand to distract you, all the better!
Pick out a reward for yourself after you go to the gyno (and you can ONLY have this reward if you actually go!). Maybe it’s a shopping trip to your fave store, a trip to the spa, or dinner at a fancy restaurant. Whatever it is, it’ll be much more rewarding after your appointment.
Have a convo with the gynecologist
Tell them that you’re nervous. If you had a bad experience, like me, tell them. If it’s possible, ask if you can to have a convo with them on the phone first before going in, and then have another convo with them. There are plenty of doctors who are patient, will walk you through the process, and listen to you with compassion.
Make the appointment
This might the hardest step of all. After doing all of that work, you’ll need to actually make an appointment.
You’ve asked your friends, read reviews, maybe even had a chat with a healthcare provider. Now it’s time to take a deep breath (and maybe have a glass of wine), choose someone, and set an appointment. The good news is you don’t have to go to Dr. Trunchbull. But you DO have superpowers like Matilda. So use them.
Set a date to make the appointment, and tell several people about it, so you’ll feel more pressure not to back out. But seriously — it’s going to be okay.
Do you have any tips for easing anxiety when it comes to making appointments with your gynecologist? Share your stories with us in the comments!
Priya Shah is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter and serial blogger armed with a journalism degree and a strong background in providing clients with value, creativity, and a killer voice. She’s also a world-traveler, has lived abroad, and loves exploring other cultures.