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Everything you need to know about visiting the Ob-Gyn

Before the Examination

The doctor will want you to have emptied your bladder prior to the exam. If your bladder is full, it can be uncomfortable for you and can make it difficult for the doctor to palpate the uterus during the pelvic exam.

It is important to remember that the examination is for your benefit. Your doctor should always show respect to you as the patient, which can start by knocking before entering the room and addressing you by your surname. The more your doctor collaborates in your care with you, the more you will understand about the exam and the better it will work for both of you. Be sure to ask questions at any time during the exam and if you like you can ask the doctor to explain the exam and the main steps.

The main purpose of the exam should be to check for any signs of disease in your reproductive system. This will require both a breast and a pelvic exam.

Communication skills are very important. They help to put you at ease and make sure the doctor gets all of your information and history. The doctor should also be using non-suggestive, commonly understood words. Before you are undressed and in your gown the doctor should discuss your reproductive and sexual history. It is strongly encouraged that there always be a chaperone in the room at all times. This is protection for the doctor and the patient. It is also helpful to have another person in the room as an assistant, specifically during the pelvic exam.

You are free to stop the exam at any time, and while there may, at some points, be some physical discomfort, there should, at no time, be any pain. The doctor should not usually leave the room once the exam has begun.

Part of your doctor’s preparation for this exam should include pre-set of functioning equipment and supplies. Also, appropriate grooming, such as having hair pulled back, nails clipped, wearing a lab coat and general cleanliness are important indicators. The next, very important step is for the doctor to practice universal precautions, by washing his/her hands. Even if they have already been washed, they should do so again in front of you as a reassurance of hygienic practice. Once the doctor has washed their hands, they should only be touching the patient or one hand to another. If they touch anything else in the room, then they should rewash. This is why an assistant is helpful.

Another purpose of the exam is for your education about your own health care. Your health care provider should be discussing breast self examination with you. They should be asking whether you perform regular breast self exams, discussing its importance in early detection of cancer (and when the best time of month to do the exam), discussing the current recommendation for a mammogram (age and regularity) and advising on the most current researched techniques for performing the exam at home.

Continue on to Visual Examination of the Breasts

Back to Everything you need to know about visiting the Ob-Gyn

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