My First Visit to the Gynecologist (A Beginner’s Guide)

So at this point in my life I’ve been to the gynecologist a few times, but the first time was… awkward. To say the least. I was seventeen, no sexual history to speak of yet, but I wanted to get on birth control. I mean, before this I had to talk to my mom, which was also awkward, but we’re going to focus on the gynecologist aspect today. And I have a few tips for young women going to the gynecologist for birth control for the first time.

Okay, first off, you’re most likely going to spend most if not all of your time with a nurse, not an actual doctor. This is usually better, because (not to perpetuate stereotypes or anything) nurses are generally female, just like you, and they know what it’s like to ask for birth control. They might do some sort of preliminary medical examination stuff, such as taking your height and weight, pressing on your abdomen to check for… something, pressing on your boobs to check for lumps. That sort of thing. If they don’t do this, great. Or not great, I guess…? But if they don’t do this, no big deal. What they will DEFINITELY do is ask you about your sexual history. To this day I’m not sure if blowjobs count. Make that decision for yourself, unless they explicitly tell you or you feel like you want to ask.

Also, and very importantly! They’re going to ask you when the LAST DAY of your LAST PERIOD was. If you’re on your period, that’s today. If you’ve only been keeping track of when you START your period, you’re gonna want to start keeping track of how long they last as well. Like, stat. It’s important apparently. If you’re not sure, guesstimate. But have a date ready, because they will ask you. And they don’t like it when you have to count on your fingers for like five minutes, then pull up a calendar on your phone and count and try to remember for like five more minutes before just making something up.

If this is your first time asking for birth control, and I assume it is because why else would you be reading this, they are also going to ask you what your reasons for wanting to get on the pill are (I’m assuming of course that that’s the kind of birth control you’re talking about, so if it’s not, sorry). My response when the nurse asked me this question was legitimately, “Um… Uh… The… usual reason I guess?”

The nurse just looked at me with a very confused face and asked again, “Could you clarify what you mean by that?”

Eventually we got there.

Yeah, it was stupid, but a perfect stranger was trying to get me to say, “I want to have lots of sex and not get pregnant.”

My advice to you is that it’s perfectly normal and okay to say this. Maybe phrase it differently though. So when the nurse asks you, some variation of, “I’d like to become sexually active and I don’t want to get pregnant,” is fine.

The next bit of advice I have is kind of specifically for monogamous girls like me. And it relates to the, “Do you use a condom when you have sex?” question. I preface this by saying that I’m in a committed relationship, which I’ve been in for three and a half years, and I personally know that I can trust him when he says he’s clean. Neither of us have ever been with anybody else, I know neither of us are cheating. So, no, we don’t use condoms. So for other young women in this boat, I’m just warning you now that your nurse and/or gynecologist is NOT going to take you at your word that your partner is totally trustworthy. Mine always give me the most suspicious looks and then insist that I take a couple condoms on my way out. So just be prepared.

In a similar vein, when they ask you if you want to pee in a cup to check if you have gonorrhea, just say yes. Just do it. I don’t care if you’re monogamous, I don’t care if you use condoms every single time you do it. Truth be told, the first time I peed in the cup, I felt almost like I was insulting my boyfriend, but the truth is, your boyfriend isn’t there with you, he doesn’t know anyway, and you’re NOT insulting him. It’s just a semi-mandatory bit of unnecessary precaution. And the awesome bit is that if it turns out it wasn’t unnecessary, now you know. And these things are just so much better when they don’t go untreated. Just look at how Cesare Borgia and Al Capone turned out if you need proof.

And then, to wrap everything up, they give you a prescription for pills with artificial estrogen in them. Yay artificial hormones! (That wasn’t sarcastic, I love my artificial hormones. As you can see now, I’m not one of those organic types.)

As a final piece of parting wisdom, if they ask you if you want to pick up three packs at a time, SAY YES. If they don’t ask you, ask them! I wish I had. Going to the pharmacy once a month doesn’t sound like a lot, but it gets to be real fast.

Aaaaand that’s it.

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