Question: Lauren (12-14) asks…
My mom said I need to see a gynecologist. What is one and what will he/she do?

Answer: A gynecologist is a doctor that specializes in the administration of health care to women. They are particularly concerned with the reproductive system.

Sometimes visiting the gynecologist can be a bit uncomfortable, but there is nothing to be scared about. When you go for your visit, a nurse practitioner will take down all your personal medical information. She will check your height, weight, blood pressure. She will also prick your finger to get a small sample of blood to check if you are anemic (if your blood is low in iron). You will need to give a urine sample…you do this at the office. When you get ready for the actual exam, the nurse will tell you to remove your clothing and dress in the sheets that they provide for you. (Bring magazines with you from the waiting room — it helps to pass the time). The nurse will stay with you during the exam.

The doctors are very professional and will talk to you about everything they are doing throughout the exam. The first thing they will do is give you a breast exam. They are looking for any disfigurement in the breast and any lumps in the breast. They will explain the importance of giving yourself a self-exam every month. They will teach you how to do this.

During the pelvic exam, you will lay down on your back and place your feet in the “stirrups”. In order to do a pap smear test (which checks for any abnormalities in your cervical cells) they must get a sample of the cells from your cervix. To do this, the doctor will need to insert a swab to collect the cells from the cervix. This does not hurt — it is a little uncomfortable — but it does not hurt. After the pap smear, the doctor will check your ovaries and uterus to make sure everything is normal. They do this by inserting a finger and pressing down on your lower abdomen. Again, this does not hurt but it is a little uncomfortable. The doctor will talk to you the entire time, and will tell you everything he/she is doing. The nurse will also remain by your side.

Sometimes it can feel a little embarrassing, but it is a normal yearly exam and there is nothing to be worried about. After you get dressed, the doctor will speak to you in his/her office. This is the perfect time to ask any questions about things you are concerned with.


Credit: J. Geoff Malta, MA, EdM, NCC Adolescent Therapist