OB/GYN 101: Finding The Right One For You!
Finding the right OB/GYN is like trying to find that perfect 'Life Partner’!
Sounding a little far fetched? Stick with me here: ideally, you are looking for someone you can be yourself comfortable with having the most intimate of health discussions with, yes?
The conversations need to flow naturally, with a partner who you can feel comfortable being yourself with, who can confidently entrust your intimate health to: who will be there during all important and personal aspects of your life. Open and honest conversations, which have you feeling calm and understood whilst planning your next steps together…?
Well, I rest my case!
Fortunately, there is an excellent line up of doctors to choose from, and here are a few tips to help you find the perfect fit without getting overwhelmed!
The How (to select your OB/GYN)
Here are some tips to find that perfect someone to have those “Awkward-but-crucial” conversations with:
Look at your insurance: Understand what your insurance does and does not cover, make sure you are aware of your benefits and clarify any areas you are uncertain of – make sure you understand the costs you are responsible for.
Your health history: If you have a pre-existing medical concern, you may need a network provider who can give you all the support in this aspect which boils down to the facilities and services available.
Know who is in your Network and the included Hospitals: If your quest for an OB/GYN should at some point involve a stay at a hospital (i.e. baby delivery), just consider if the new OB/GYN works in your network, the hospital facilities like the NICU, and of course the Location. A good place to start is your insurance providers website.
Get recommendations from someone you trust: The best recommendation comes from those who have experienced care firsthand!
Consider history and speciality: Once you have a few shortlisted names, put your online research powers to the test: find the online biographies of the candidates, establish where they are currently practising, certifications (if these are important to you), check for specialization details that may vibe with your special needs, etc.
Read Reviews and ease of getting an appointment: I mean if you do this for a hotel stay, why not for an intended intimate care specialist? Also, consider availability, the last thing you want is to be left hanging for your Vagina date - or worse, stood up!
Know that your choice is not final: You are not stuck with your decision. We are in charge of our personal health care. So, if your relationship doesn’t kick-off, then you can always keep looking for that perfect match.
The When (to see your OB/GYN)
According to the Harvard Medical School Publication: “Recommendations no longer support annual visits—but every woman is different.”
So, while it is reassuring that we are keeping on top of our health: many of us rely on an annual OB/GYN visit to ensure our vaginal health is sound. But is an annual visit really necessary? The answers used to be Yes…Mostly to ensure that we have our regular tests to screen for cervical cancer. However according to the Harvard Medical School Publication “new cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend less frequent Pap tests for younger women and no Pap tests for many older women, which may mean many of us no longer need this annual health ritual.” – In short ask your OB/GYN what the best for you is!
The What (to expect from your OB/GYN visit at different stages of life)
According to the Tufts Medical Centre: Just as women’s healthcare needs change as they age, their annual OB/GYN appointments change, too. Throughout the course of a woman’s life. Here is what to expect.
Ages 15 – 21: The normative years – The annual visit if recommended is more of a conversation, rather than an exam. In most cases a pelvic exam is not necessary; however, conversations about STI’s, HPV vaccines, home breast exams, and avoiding unplanned pregnancies are carried out. At the age of 21, it is recommended that the first Pap Test is carried out.
Ages 22 – 44: The planning years – From this stage on, annual exams which include a breast exam, abdominal exam and a pelvic exam are recommended depending on the individual. The majority of patients in this age category are interested either in pregnancy prevention or becoming pregnant. So, visit conversations typically flow around contraception or fertility. At the age of 30, it is recommend that HPV tests are taken.
Ages 45 – 55: The Menopausal years – Here conversations are more around managing the fluctuating hormones, which can include a change of lifestyle, medication, hormone replacement therapy, and alternative medications. This is the age that regular screenings are recommended.
Ages: 55 and Beyond – Most women encounter more issues due to hormonal changes, such as vaginal dryness, decreased sexual desire, and skin condition brought about by these changes. Annual or as recommended appointments need to be addressed with greater care for early detection of complications.
For more what to expect over the different stages of life, read our REJUCATION blog on Your Vulva Over Time - The Changes You May Experience.
The Why (an OB/GYN relationship is so important)
No matter which stage you are in life, your intimate health is of paramount importance to your overall well being. From your overall health, pregnancy-related visits, irregular or heavy menstruation, breast exams, pelvic exams, pap smears, birth control, changes in vaginal discharge, UTI & blood in urine, pain during sex or cramps, all this is looked into by your OB/GYN. So make the most of your visit by asking the right questions and having a really meaningful conversation with your OB/GYN.
Here are some questions you should be asking your OB/GYN:
- What kind of exams or tests do I need, and what will I need in the future?
- Can I get these tests done here?
- Why is _______(fill in the blank) happening to me?
- Is it you I will see every time I come in? What are your office hours and what happens if you are not available or there is an emergency?
- How often do I need to visit?