7 Tips to Feel Less Awkward at an OBG­YN Appointment

It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s your first pelvic exam or if you’ve been con­sis­tent in your reg­u­lar exams — going to the obste­tri­cian-gyne­col­o­gist (OBG­YN) can some­times feel a bit awkward. 

While it’s per­fect­ly nat­ur­al to feel awk­ward, it’s crit­i­cal that you not let that stand in your way of going to your OBG­YN appoint­ment. Miss­ing appoint­ments means that you don’t get the care you need, like a sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tion (STI) test or a Pap smear to detect ear­ly signs of cer­vi­cal cancer.

The same goes for being com­plete­ly open and hon­est with your OBG­YN. The more infor­ma­tion they have — such as whether or not you’re sex­u­al­ly active — the more tools they have to pro­vide the best type of care for your spe­cif­ic needs.

Also read: 7 Rou­tine Exams For Women

This might seem a lit­tle eas­i­er said than done. So, here are 7 tips to help you feel a bit less awk­ward at the OBGYN:

1. Find Out What to Expect Before Your OBG­YN Appointment

Feel­ings of awk­ward­ness could stem from find­ing your­self in a sit­u­a­tion that you’re not pre­pared for. While you might not be able to pre­pare for absolute­ly every­thing, you can do a lit­tle home­work to get an idea of what’s coming. 

For exam­ple:

  • Have a list of ques­tions pre­pared to ask your doc­tor dur­ing the appointment.

  • Talk to friends and fam­i­ly mem­bers who have recent­ly been to sim­i­lar appoint­ments to learn about their experiences.

  • If you require cer­tain accom­mo­da­tions, such as a trans­la­tor, let the office know pri­or to your appoint­ment, so arrange­ments can be made.

  • If some­thing unex­pect­ed occurs, such as your month­ly cycle, call the office before can­cel­ing your appointment.

Also, make a list of ques­tions you want to ask ahead of time. If you already have planned out what you want to ask, the con­ver­sa­tion might feel a lot less forced and not seem like you’re being put on the spot. 

Pro tip: Write down the ques­tions. If you keep them in your head, you might for­get an impor­tant one.

Also read: Prepar­ing for Your First Pap Smear

2. Make Your­self Phys­i­cal­ly Comfortable

In addi­tion to awk­ward­ness, you might also be wor­ried about an exam being painful. That is a per­fect­ly nor­mal and under­stand­able fear. But while exams shouldn’t cause pain, they can cause pres­sure and be uncom­fort­able.

For­tu­nate­ly, there are sev­er­al ways to min­i­mize discomfort.

  • If you’re hav­ing a pro­ce­dure, ask if tak­ing pain med­ica­tion, such as ibupro­fen, pri­or to your appoint­ment is recommended

  • Prac­tice relax­ation tech­niques, like deep breathing

  • Dis­tract your­self (e.g., lis­ten­ing to music)

  • Tell your provider that you’re ner­vous about pain

  • Let your provider know if it’s your first pelvic exam

  • Emp­ty your blad­der before the exam (unless oth­er­wise instruct­ed or a urine sam­ple is required first)

3. Go to Your Reg­u­lar Appointments

Even if it’s awk­ward at first, keep up with your appoint­ments. The more you see your provider, the more you can get to know them and build a rela­tion­ship. Once that hap­pens, talk­ing with your OBG­YN about issues you’re expe­ri­enc­ing might not seem much dif­fer­ent than talk­ing with a friend.

Make an appoint­ment with a Duly Obste­tri­cian-Gyne­col­o­gist.

4. Bring Some­one With You

Have your part­ner or a friend tag along. They don’t need to come into the exam room with you if you don’t want them to or if your OBGYN’s prac­tice does­n’t allow it. But even know­ing that you have a friend­ly face to greet you in the wait­ing room after the appoint­ment can make the expe­ri­ence feel more normal. 

If you have time, plan some­thing to do with them right after — even just grab­bing a cup of cof­fee — can help nor­mal­ize the expe­ri­ence and give you some­thing to look for­ward to.

5. Go Right Out and Tell Your OBG­YN That You’re Feel­ing Awk­ward or Uncomfortable

Telling your OBG­YN that you’re feel­ing awk­ward might seem even more awk­ward. How­ev­er, get­ting it out in the open can go a long way toward becom­ing more com­fort­able. Your provider may have meth­ods for mak­ing things eas­i­er, whether you’re feel­ing phys­i­cal­ly uncom­fort­able or emo­tion­al­ly awkward. 

6. Remem­ber — This Isn’t Your OBGYN’s First Rodeo

If you have a ques­tion — even one that seems like the most embar­rass­ing thing you could pos­si­bly ask (it isn’t) — chances are that your OBG­YN has heard it before. In fact, what you find embar­rass­ing might be sim­ply part of your provider’s every­day conversations.

7. If You’re Still Uncom­fort­able, Look for a New Provider

In some cas­es, your provider might just not be the best fit. And that’s okay. You deserve an OBG­YN who you gen­uine­ly trust and who makes you feel comfortable. 

And No Mat­ter What …

Remem­ber that your provider is nev­er there to judge you. Their num­ber one goal is to keep you healthy and safe.

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  • Evenlyn Rodriguez, MD, Hinsdale OBGYN

    I attempt to provide an individualized approach to each of my patients. I emphasize the importance of preventative care and empower my patients with information to make informed decisions about their health. We will work in a step wise fashion to help resolve medical concerns that may arise. My goal is to help my patients through the different stages in life with compassionate and comprehensive care.