Five Things to Do Before Your Gynecology Visit: What Your Gyn Wants You to Know

February 12, 2015


by Dr. Kalinda Woods


  1. Pretend we are your Therapist: Tell ALL!

Think of your gynecologist as the Oprah of the medical realm. Have a bump ‘down there’ that you’re stressed about? Odds are excellent that your doctor has seen that before, knows how to treat it, and will reassure you that it’s not the end of the world. You’ll get the most out of your visit by being as honest and forthcoming as possible. Be assured that your doctor is well trained to deal with whatever is ailing you and there is little you can say or show her that will startle or offend. As physicians, our goal is to make you better, never to judge or chastise. It’s okay to cry in the stirrups. That’s why there’s a box of tissues right next to your head and a picture of kittens on the ceiling.

  1. Wear clean socks.

Most women worry about the smell or appearance of their vaginas at their pap smear, but the truth is, vaginas are not as offensive as people would have us believe. Feet, however can be nasal insults unto themselves. During an exam, the part of your body closest to your doctors nose is…think about it…your feet. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  1. Check your calendar

When was your last menstrual period? This information is important for docs to know. We make many types of women’s health decisions based on this info: from when to advise you to stop/ start contraception, to when to have sex if you are trying to conceive to whether you are going into menopause. Your doctor can also use this information to time certain laboratory and diagnostic tests. Always remember: the quality of the information you give your doctor can make all the difference in performing an accurate work up and making a timely diagnosis. So, when your doctor asks you this question, please be able to shout out the date! This will save time and provide a wealth of information for your doctor.

  1. Know your medications

Your gynecologist needs to know what meds you are taking- especially if they will be prescribing other medications. Don’t assume that because you say you have high blood pressure your doctor knows what medicine you take. And saying, “high blood pressure pill” is not acceptable. If you’re not sure, that’s okay, just call the office when you get home with your medication list so your doctor can update your chart.

  1. Your doc doesn’t know Insurance

Your doctor is a very simple creature. She spent many years studying the science, perfecting the technical skills, and learning the unteachable art of medicine that only comes with experience and having the privilege and the pressure of caring for the health of another. Does she know copays and deductibles? Not so much. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and chat with them about your questions- that’s what those folks are trained to sort out. If you don’t have a card, hope your doc has someone in her office with a fancy title like “Financial Advisor” who can assist with cost and billing concerns.
Kalinda image

Kalinda Woods, MD, FACOG, is an Assistant Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine.

Information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical consultation or serve as a substitute for medical advice provided by a physician or qualified medical professional.

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  • Reply Mia Boyd February 16, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for the information. I had no idea that there were so many important things to do before you see the gynecologist. I’m definitely going to keep these things in mind before I go. I’m especially interested in the tip about making sure I tell my gynecologist everything, as if she was my therapist. I’m usually afraid to tell her things, so I’m glad I know this tip now!

  • Reply Laila Keirstead May 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I understand that you should tell you gynecologist everything. I think the more information the better they will be able to help you. I imagine them as a therapist, but not one that I talk to about my feelings rather what has been going on and my concerns I may have. I need to remember these other tips so I don’t come in with any stinky socks.

  • Reply Alex Jennings May 8, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I think you’ve mentioned some important aspects of patient-doctor relationships. If you’re worried about something on your body, you should feel comfortable telling your doctor about it. I thought it was funny that you mentioned the importance of clean socks. I think people underestimate the smell of their feet!

    Alex Jennings |

  • Reply Olivia Gilman July 14, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Dr. Woods, thanks for the info about things to do before your gynecologist appointment. I used to always have trouble listing the dates of my last period at the doctor’s office. I could never remember. Now I use an app that tracks it for me. It makes life so much easier!

  • Reply Melody Brown August 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I like what you said about wearing clean socks. You wouldn’t think that would be the smell bothering the doctor. Thanks for taking time to write.

  • Reply Gynecologists in Pune August 21, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Fun to read that post now that you had the little one! I’ve always gotten pregnant so easily and felt to awkward with people who struggle. It’s so not fair that some people have such an easy time and others don’t.

  • Reply gynecologist in pune August 28, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I just found your blog through a fellow infertility blogger. I’m at the end of my rope today with all things related to IVF. I’m in the thick of the struggle. Hearing success stories always give me hope…so thanks for sharing.

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