Gynecologists … mystical figures feared by all teenagers! Either you love them or you hate them, there is no middle ground!
I don’t know what your thoughts are, but even if you hate my category, I hope to change your mind throughout time.
A gynecologist is a specialist doctor, just like me, with a white coat and slightly impertinent hands.
We take care of women’s health at all stages in life, starting when you are just a little baby up to your old age. More specifically, we are experts in maintaining your reproductive system healthy and well functioning.
In Italy, where I come from, after graduating in Medicine and Surgery (university course that lasts 6 years), the rookie doctor who wants to become a gynecologist must pass a national exam in order to get access to a “Gynecology and Obstetrics Residency Program”. Once in residency, it takes another 5 years of working plus studying before being able to become a specialist.
When should you make an appointment?
Unlike other medicine specialists, such as cardiologists or neurosurgeons, just to name a few, where you make an appointment only if you really have to, you should really go and get checked regularly by your gyno.
I am sure you are now asking yourself: “How often should I go expose my gentlelady bits?”
I personally recommend a gynecological check-up exam, in the absence of problems, every year. This isn’t just my opinion, in fact, even the most important medical scientific gynecological societies, including ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), give this recommendation.
The reason behind this, is that the gynecologist not only must deal with diseases and disorders related to female intimate health, fertility and pregnancy, BUT should also provide you with all the necessary information to maintain your well-being “down there”, help you plan a pregnancy (or prevent it by guiding you in the choice of the contraceptive method most suitable to your body and your needs), listen to you and help you in case of any problems or pain with sexual intercourse plus much, much more.
A gynecologist must make sure that in each stage of your life everything regarding your reproductive health works smoothly (correct physiology), from vaginal discharge to your menstrual cycle rhythm. Gynecologists who are also obstetricians, like myself, will also monitor your and your baby’s well-being during pregnancy.
I want to emphasize once more how important it is to get regular gynecological checks, even in the absence of pathologies or discomfort, because some gynecological diseases can remain “silent” and not be noticed for a long time! Since we are able to help you in the prevention of many diseases, from sexually transmitted infections to cancer, and we can offer you some screening tests capable of identifying pathologies at an early stage (in order for them not to get worse), it would be a pity not to get checked once in a while… after all the old saying “prevention is better than cure” is a basic principle of modern health care.
Who should get checked?
The gynecologist must take care of any person with female reproductive organs, regardless of the gender with which the person identifies itself or the person’s sexual orientation, in fact it is important that whoever has a uterus or ovaries, gets regular gynecological check-ups just as much as cis-women.
When should you get checked the scheduled appointment?
Now you know in general terms the work of a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, but let’s see in which cases and for what reasons you should be examined anticipating the annual check-up I recommended.
It is important to make an appointment for a gynecological evaluation in case of:
- puberty development problems during childhood and adolescence
- infections (of the vulvar region such as herpes, of the vagina, of the urinary bladder such as cystitis, etc.)
- irritation and inflammation of the genital area
- menstrual disorders (pain, heavy or scarce periods, long-lasting or short cycles, etc.)
- severe or prolonged pain in the lower abdomen
- if you want a birth control solution
- genital warts
- acne and hirsutism problems (which means hair, hair, hair, lots of hair)
- sexual disorders (physical pain, but also emotional discomfort)
- from the moment you learn you are pregnant and until delivery
- need for post-partum care
- reproductive problems when trying to conceive (infertility)
- whenever you feel the need
Choosing the gynecologist who is right for you
There is no golden rule for choosing the right doctor, but if I can advise you, these are the key points to keep in mind when choosing a healthcare professional, especially the gynecologist.
Here is the list of features that I evaluate when I have to choose a colleague from whom to be examined and treated:
- Medical certifications:
Where did the professional graduate and with what grade?
Where did the professional complete the residency training and with what grade?
- Medical experience: is the professional an expert on my problem?
Gynecology is a very wide branch of medicine and although all gynecologists should be able to do routine checkups and other procedures, not all are experts in different super-specialist areas. Specifically, there are gynecologists who are experts in oncology (ie cancer pathologies), others instead are experts in prenatal diagnosis (techniques that allow to recognize congenital anomalies in fetuses during pregnancy). I, for example, am a fertility expert. For each specific problem of super-specialist competence it is always better to rely on an expert in that specific field.
- Communication skills:
Does the professional listen to me and my needs without making me feel judged?
Is the professional able to explain things to me in a way that is understandable to me?
At the end of the day, choosing a gynecologist is a super personal choice. The gynecologist is the doctor with whom more than anyone else you get naked, not only literally, but also on a psychological level, because with him or her you will have to talk about your intimate sphere and be seen and examined in areas that in our society are embedded with a very high emotional load and an aura of taboo.
Should I choose a male gynecologist or female gynecologist?
Believe me, it really doesn’t matter, choose the professional who makes you feel most at ease and with whom you sense you can establish a relationship of total trust.
Who is “the best gynecologist in the world”?
The doctor who is a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics is the go-to-figure for:
- Assessing the health of your reproductive system
- Answering your questions and reassuring you regarding your concerns about your female organs and your sexuality
- Diagnosing and treating alterations, disorders and pathologies of the female genital tract
- Learning about your sexual health and choosing the contraceptive method that best suits your individual characteristics
- Preparing you for pregnancy and helping you get pregnant in case of infertility
- Keeping yourself checked and healthy during pregnancy
- Keeping yourself checked and healthy during and after menopause