Healthcare Tips

Every Question Is a Good Question: Preparing for Your OB/GYN Appointment

November 11, 2021

Your OB/GYN has an incredible breadth of knowledge and skills, but mind-reading is not one of them. Chances are good that listening is, however, which means your objective in each of your appointments is to speak up.

That can be easier said than done. There’s a reason blood pressure readings tend to be higher in doctor’s offices. Sitting basically naked on that exam table is just the start (and what a start). Even an annual exam can be intimidating, and it may become outright scary if you’re addressing health concerns.

How do you get the most from the time you spend with your OB/GYN? It pays to plan. Here are a few tips for overcoming the discomfort and anxiety that so many of us experience during an appointment.

First, know that you deserve answers about your health.

Your OB/GYN has a distinct information advantage—unless you also went to medical school and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, in which case they simply have the objectivity you lack about your health.

You, however, have all the valuable information they don’t. You and you alone know what it’s like to live inside your body. You are the expert in strengths, symptoms, and weird little changes, like did my nipples change color, and why does my sweat smell so different around the time of my period? 

You’re also the only one living inside that body, which means you have every right to ask questions until you feel you’re satisfied by the answers. The time you spend in your doctor’s office is time that’s been set aside just for you. You (or your insurance company) bought it, and it’s yours to use to get the answers you need.

Plan ahead.

It’s awfully difficult to remember all the things you were curious or worried about after you step foot in the doctor’s office; throw in stirrups and a speculum, and that difficulty skyrockets. Which is what makes writing down your questions ahead of time absolutely essential.

If you’re a super-organized person who keeps a list as questions arise, so much the better. If you’re like the rest of us, it’s worth starting a list a week or so before your appointment. You’ll be surprised at what pops into your mind if you get it revved up, so make sure you give yourself time to get in “what do I want to ask” mode and let the questions resurface. Write them all down, in as much detail as you can muster.

Think through your health.

Pain or issues that inhibit your life will be obvious, but there’s a lot more to consider. As you prepare questions, consider your health from several different angles.

Keep the conversation going.

Just because you’ve asked the question and the doctor has said words doesn’t mean you know what you need to. Some doctors are better than others at giving plain, clear answers. You have every right to follow up and keep asking until you get the information you need.

You might also want to start keeping a log of questions and concerns year-round instead of just before your appointment. The more attention you pay to your body and its many surprises, the better prepared you are to recognize and address early symptoms. Your body and your well-being deserve the attention.