9 Things Everyone Should Know Before An OB/GYN Appointment

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If going to the gynecologist stresses you out, arming yourself with a few etiquette tips for OB/GYN appointments can definitely help. Knowing what to do, and what the process might be like, takes some of the guesswork out of the equation for you. And, as far as your doctor goes, it can help them provide you with a smoother appointment overall.

Because, as with any doctor's visit, it's only natural to feel a bit uncomfortable or unsure. But that doesn't have to be the case. "Often we don’t talk much about the various stigmas [or] myths, let alone foster an educational awareness when it comes to norms and even the mysteries of what goes on down under," Dr. Tamara Guichard, OB/GYN at EliteGYN & Advanced Physicians, tells Bustle. "However, changing those nerves starts with feeling safe with your doctor." And that means asking questions, speaking up, and making sure you're aware of what's happening — all things that are perfectly OK to do.

As for the rest of your visit, the usual doctor's office etiquette tips apply. You'll want to follow whatever your doctor and the staff recommend, Dr. Guichard says, since it's their job to keep things running. Sticking to certain office rules will also ensure you get the care you need. With that in mind, read on for the top etiquette tips for OB/GYN appointments everyone needs to know, according to experts.


Get Settled In Right Away


Once you get into the exam room, help the process along by getting ready for the doctor to come in. "Remove all of your clothes and put the robe on like a gown," Dr. Pari Ghodsi, board-certified OB/GYN and medical advisor at Fresh n' Lean, tells Bustle. "Then sit on the table and put the sheet over your lap if there is one provided." This will ensure you're all set up, covered up, and ready for your checkup when the doctor arrives.


Leave Your Socks On

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One thing you might worry about during a gynecological exam is odor, and whether it's affecting the doctor. But keep in mind they won't be affected, Dr. Ghodsi says. If you want to keep your socks on, for example, to cover up smelly feet, go ahead and do so. It's more for your own comfort than the doctor's, though, so don't feel obligated either way.


Don't Worry About Grooming

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And the same is true for grooming. Doctors have literally seen it all, so if you forget to clean up before your appointment, don't sweat it. "We really don't care if you wax or shave your legs," Dr. Ghodsi says. "Same with genital grooming." You can, however, shave, shower, or trim if it would make you feel better during your appointment.


Tell Them If You're Nervous

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As mentioned above, "many people feel nervous going to the OB/GYN, especially for the first time," Dr. Ghodsi says, which is why it can help to express your nerves to your physician. They will help put you at ease, which will make for a much smoother appointment overall.


Go Ahead And Ask Questions

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If something's on your mind, or you aren't sure what's happening, go ahead and ask. "[Knowing] what to anticipate can decrease [your] anxiety about the situation," Dr. Ghodsi says. "A lot of fear is the unknown."

Doctors would rather you speak up than lie there feeling tense or upset. It's much better to communicate with them, so you can both be on the same page and have a successful appointment overall.


Fill Out Your Health Forms Online

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If you can, go online and fill out the office's health forms before your visit. "By providing insurance information and medical histories and previous records online, [you] can also streamline [your appointment]," Dr. Guichard says. This will help the office stick to their schedule, while saving you from having to arrive early to fill out forms in person, which is never any fun.


Let The Front Desk Know Why You're There

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Once you get arrive, don't forget to check in and let the nurses and/or technicians know why you're there. "Appointments can go smoothly if patients let the front desk know why they are coming in," Dr. Guichard says. Let them know if you're there for medication refills, a consultation, an annual exam, etc. And you'll be in and out before you know it.


Reschedule If Your Get Your Period

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If you're scheduled for a pap smear, but happen to get your period on the day of your appointment, it's best to reschedule, Dr. Guichard says. While some doctors will do it anyway if you're having a lighter day, it's better to wait until your period is fully over.


Plan Ahead

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When developing a patient/doctor relationship, the last thing you want to do is leave them hanging. So once you make an appointment, make sure you have the correct day and time, and then stick to it. "Many times procedures must be rescheduled or postponed due to these simple misunderstandings," Dr. Guichard says. And that's not fair to anyone.

Gynecological appointments can be stressful enough without the added confusion of running late, filling out forms last minute, or not knowing what to expect. But if you plan ahead, and stick to these etiquette tips, everything will go smoothly.