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Your Visit to the Gynecologist: Be Prepared to Get the Most Out of Your Appointment

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This guide is part of a series that includes confessions from real women and advice from real physicians that can help you prepare for your very own date with the doctor.

It’s not uncommon for patients to feel like a doctor that has several other people to see in a small window of time is rushing their visit. According to Dr. Steven Rabin, this is due to changes in the medical field over the past two decades that have caused doctors to face the obstacle of treating more patients in less time.

“Doctors may only have 11 or 12 minutes to see a patient now,” he said. “Smart doctors try to really maximize those 11 or 12 minutes, but how much can you do?” he muses. “You can ask if [the patient] has lost weight in the past year, ask if they are doing their self breast exams, and ask if their sex life is okay, but a lot of doctors shy away from these tough questions because they lead to long conversations.”

However, understanding the dynamics of a doctor’s office can help you prevent a rushed appointment. As Dr. Margaret Cramer explained, “It’s hard to deal with that situation if your sitting on a table in a paper gown, and the doctor comes in preoccupied.” To make sure that your gynecologist is giving you sufficient attention, Cramer advised, don’t be afraid to bring up your questions at the end of the visit. Prepare a list of questions beforehand, and for your routine checkup focus on one or two issues that you’d like to discuss. If you run out of time during your appointment, and ask the doctor if you can come in for another visit to talk about specific issues.

Jenny, a 20-year-old retail sales associate says she felt like her gynecologist often rushed through her appointments during her pregnancy last year. As a result, she began to see a different doctor after she had her baby. “I just thought, ‘Maybe it would be better if I go somewhere else instead,’” she said. According to Cramer, many women do the same thing Morgan did.

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HERWriter Guide

I have been going to an OB/GYN for many years and not once have I been asked about my sex life. What a shame that the reasoning behind not asking women about these things is that it may lead to long conversations!

Women don't treat the doctor's office like a coffee shop; I'm sure we want to be in and out too and are capable of being succinct in our answers - I'm sure some women do talk too much but doctor's should give the rest of us more credit!

I even wonder if doctor's spend 12 minutes for visit...I'm thinking it's closer to 5 actual minutes (not including when they say they'll be "right back" and you sit, cold, under those dreadful lights, in your gown, for 20 or 25 minutes).

I think preparing a list is excellent advice, I did that a couple of times when I was pregnant. Even if I had questions, I was so relieved to hear the heartbeat and know the baby sounded fine, that I'd forget everything else. Doctor's offices are pretty intimidating anyway - I think everyone should have a list!

Thanks for the SHARE!

April 6, 2009 - 1:27pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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