No one likes going to the gynecologist, but you know you should—regular visits with an OB-GYN are an important part of maintaining a woman’s health.
We asked OB-GYN Dr. Matthew Siedhoff how women can find a doctor they’re comfortable with and get the most out of their least-favorite checkup.
Q. How do I find a good doctor?
Dr. Siedhoff: Word of mouth—ask your friends if they’ve had good experiences.
Look for physicians who have enough time for individual visits, who ask open-ended questions, and who make their patients feel very comfortable.
Look for a provider who’s not only knowledgeable but who easily garners trust.
You want to feel like you’re in a space where you’re not being judged, that you’re being listened to, and that the person you’re seeing is going to be able to help guide you to solutions.
Q. Why is it important to go regularly?
Dr. Siedhoff: There are some screenings you should have on a regular basis to prevent future issues.
The first is the Pap smear, which is a test for pre-cancerous or cancerous conditions of the cervix, caused by HPV (human papilloma virus).
Some sexually transmitted infections don’t have any symptoms. One is chlamydia—if that’s not caught and treated early, it can lead to issues with fertility.
Another reason is contraception and family planning. Making active decisions and having somebody you trust is really important for making sure pregnancy happens when you want it to.
Lastly is the physical exam. Sometimes abnormalities can be detected on a pelvic exam that the patient may not notice herself—like a mass on the ovary or a mass on the uterus that may or may not need treatment. Tracking these changes over time is important.
Q: How often should women see their OB-GYN?
Dr. Siedhoff: The Pap test screening guidelines have changed recently to every 3-5 years for women ages 30 to 65. But I recommend an annual exam for all of the other reasons I mentioned.