5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About That First OB/GYN Visit

Dr. Lori Gore-Green

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding OB/GYN appointments. Many people don’t know what to expect, don’t understand why the appointment is important, and don’t know the difference between a Pap smear and an STD test. Dr. Lori Gore-Green has put together this list of the top 5 most frequently asked questions about the first visit so you can make an informed decision and keep yourself in optimal health.

Here are Dr. Lori Gore-Green’s answers to the top 5 FAQs about OB/GYN visits:

When Should I Go? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that 13-15 year old girls should start visiting an OB/GYN, even if it’s just to have an initial talk with the doctor. Girls that become sexually active before that age should visit the OB/GYN earlier.

How Do I Prepare? There’s not much you have to do to prepare for an OB/GYN appointment. You should try to avoid douching or having sex for a day or so before your appointment to ensure accuracy on your Pap test results.

What Will Happen At My Appointment? A nurse will begin by giving you a general health check including weight, blood pressure, and sometimes urine tests. Afterward, you’ll need to get undressed for the physical exam, but you’ll be provided with a gown to cover up. Your doctor will ask some questions about your health and then examine your vagina.

What Are They Checking For? The OB/GYN will check the outside of your vagina for any abnormalities and then use a speculum device to check the inside of your vagina and cervix. The idea is to examine your reproductive organs to make sure that everything looks safe and that you are not developing any tumors. You’ll also be given a Pap test (or Pap smear) with a small brush to check for cervical cancer.

Will I Be Tested For STDs? A pap smear is not the same as being tested for STDs. While a Pap smear will test for cervical cancer and abnormalities, an STD test will determine if you have any sexually transmitted diseases. If you are sexually active, your doctor will check you for common STDs by taking a swab of tissue during your exam. This test is fairly comprehensive, but you’ll need to get a blood test to check for HIV.