Those who know me well may have heard my paper towel gyno story. For those who don't know see tip #10 for a better idea. I'm pretty sure that experience caused my gyno apprehension. I believe your gyno visit goal is to get in and out with what you need without being the one who is discussed over lunch. I advise this knowing I’ve been the topic of that conversation, and I pray there's never a repeat.
Here's my list of dos and don'ts for your next annual visit:
1.) Never schedule your appointment after 11am. The later in the day you wait the greater your risk of a faux pas.
2.) Treat or give yourself a pedicure the day before. Note: if you wait too late in the day you risk sheet marks, and if you wait until the morning your shoes may ruin your handiwork.
3.) Choose your clothes the night before, including bra, panties, socks, etc. Be sure every article you select fits properly. You definitely don't want to stress over skin indentions from items that are too tight.
Note: trouser socks are especially dangerous and also increase your risk of sweaty feet. Note: avoid trouser socks at
all cost on the day of your exam.
4.) Don't eat asparagus the day before your visit. You'd hate for your urine sample to smell funny.
5.) If you don’t wax, you’ll want to wake up early to allow extra time for a perfect shave. Everyone will be glad you did.
6.) Of course you'll wear deodorant, but don't overdue it. You don't want unnecessary white residue on your armpits when you have to lift them during the breast exam. And if you think you need extra deo on the day of your appointment you might want to rethink what you're wearing on a daily basis.
7.) I used to pack a washcloth in a baggie to be able to give everything a good once over before the actual exam. My current gyno's office provides those towelettes in the bathrooms and exam rooms. This saves me from having to think about it, but it also shows that some women need the reminder. If you're unsure whether your office supplies the wipes do yourself a favor and take your own.
8.) Decide your shoes carefully. I have a friend who wore some really cute, leather knee boots to her exam. This was the first time she’d worn them, and she wore them without tights. At first thought, this was a smart move (See #9), but when it came time for her to get undressed she realized the boots were stuck. God love her. She had no choice but to sit on the edge of the table with those boots dangling over the side. You can bet at lunch that day every person working in the office received hilarious commentary and pictured her in the stirrups with those knee boots.
9.) It really goes without saying, but if you'd even consider wearing hose or tights to your visit you need much more help than I can provide. If you don't have an option and must wear hose to work, make your appointment the first one of the day, pack your hose and put them on after the exam. Or better yet, take a sick day, and enjoy a great lunch and shopping after your appointment. You’ll most definitely earn it!
10.) When you’re in the exam room, and the nurse tells you to get undressed the doctor will be right in, you’ll want to rush like a speed demon to remove your clothes. You don’t want to have to say “Wait, please,” or (God forbid) have the doctor open the door without knocking while you’re standing there half-naked. But I beg of you to resist this urge and take time to ensure you’ve been left appropriate coverage, i.e., gown, large sheet, etc.
This is something I wish I’d known about a decade ago. I had an appointment with a new gyno and had to endure a dreadfully long wait before my name was called. The nurse was in an obvious rush trying to catch up and forgot to place the appropriate items on the examining table. I was later told there was supposed to be a small paper coverlet for my breasts and a larger one for overall coverage. I undressed in a flash, walked over to the table and unfolded what was the equivalent of a Bounty-sized paper towel. There was nothing else. I kid you not. If I hadn't have been completely out of birth control pills and desperately needing a refill on my prescription I would have run out of there and never looked back. If this happened to me today I would either get dressed again, open the door and ask what the deal was or wrap the covering on the actual table around me toga-style. Instead, I was young and less creative so I sat shamefully, legs-crossed on the table, and placed the Bounty over me diagonally, attempting to cover my nipples and the top of my pubic area. When the doctor walked in, my chest and neck were bright red and burning up, my heart was racing and I was shaking my crossed leg like I was high on cocaine. Of course the doctor realized the mistake, ordered the nurse to get me the large paper sheet and turned to face the door until she returned. Ultimately, I got my prescription along with plenty of free samples and never graced that practice with my face ever again.
I encourage you to remember my story and these tips for your next visit. I promise you’ll thank me for it in the long run.