The right doctor is out there, but they might be hard to find.
The first time I visited a gynecologist my mother went in the room with me. Although I was over 18, I just assumed she would come with me. Besides, the doctor never asked for privacy.
I hadn’t menstruated for a few months, and even though I hadn’t yet had sex, I thought it was weird that my doctor didn’t ask me about my sexual activity or possible pregnancy. I never went back to that doctor, but he taught me a valuable lesson.
The path to finding the perfect gynecologist can be long and bumpy. There are specialists who, like mine, take virginity for granted, and others who are not open to diverse sexual practices. A gynecologist who works for some people might not work for another — the possibilities are endless.
Before exploring your options, it’s important to ask yourself four questions.
1. Why are you seeing them?
Is it a routine check-up or do you have a specific problem to address? While finding a well-prepared and overall nice doctor is always in your best interest, a casual visit just to make sure everything’s fine leaves more room for trial and error, while dealing with a particular issue, like PCOS or a hormonal imbalance, will require you to look for a specialist.
Red flag ??: The doctor fails to explain what they’re doing or why, especially if it’s the first time you see them. If this happens, ask questions! A good doctor will gladly give you the answers you need.
2. What makes you feel comfortable?
Everyone’s different, and while some may need a lot of guidance and warmth, others prefer a more distant, matter-of-fact approach from their doctor. Your gyno doesn’t have to be likable, but they do have to be trustworthy and help you feel confident that you are getting the best medical advice.
Red flag ??: Feeling disrespected at any point during your visit.
3. Are they respectful of your values and principles?
My first gynecologist equated being single with virginity, and there are many doctors who let their principles clash with their patients’. Find a doctor who is like-minded on topics ranging from birth control to diverse sexual practices.
Red flag ??: The doctor makes you feel judged or like the doctor is trying to steer you into doing something you’re not comfortable with.
4. Are they knowledgeable and open to talking about your specific issues?
Sexual health needs are about as varied as the people who have them. Despite having years of education, some gynecologists might not be prepared to treat you. In the worst cases, they might not listen closely enough to your problem to figure out what it is that you actually need.
Red flag ??: The information provided is inaccurate or doesn’t apply to your situation. They might have focused on the wrong thing or maybe not have listened to you. Both suggest they’re not the right doctor for you.
At the end of the day, visiting a gynecologist (or any doctor, for that matter) is all about peace of mind, and as long as you’re comfortable and confident that you’re getting the best medical advice you can receive, there’s nothing wrong with long-term commitment.