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Questions You Have About Your Annual Ob/Gyn Exam, Answered

Find out answers to common questions people have before their annual well-woman exam with an ob/gyn or gynecologist.

Venus SánchezPreeti Parikh, MD
Written by Venus Sánchez | Reviewed by Preeti Parikh, MD
Published on May 4, 2021

Going to the gynecologist for a regular well-woman exam is a necessity. From your first method of birth control, that random yeast infection you got one time, and the regular Pap smear, your gynecologist has been there through it all. Whether it’s your first time going to the ob/gyn or you’re a veteran, you might still have some questions.

Common Questions Before Your Ob/Gyn Exam

Question #1: Do I need to shave beforehand?

Nope, your doctor doesn't care. They’ve seen it all, so rest easy if you don’t feel like reaching for the razor. There are days or weeks (thanks winter) when you can’t be bothered to shave. So bask in your hair, and ditch the effort. It won’t make a difference.

Question #2: Do I need to reschedule if I'm having my period?

Not necessarily—it depends on the goals of the appointment. Periods can affect certain lab results, so check with your doctor. In other cases, your period can make things easier, like if you’re getting an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted. You should expect cramping during the process so all of that extra, um, lubrication could help!

Question #3: Should I be self-conscious about my ob/gyn judging my body parts?

Absolutely not. Again, they’ve seen it all. Society has conditioned us to believe a beautiful vulva includes this and that. Newsflash: Each vulva is different, and there is no set standard for a “normal” vulva. Be proud of the one you have. It’s better than living in shame about something you have little control over.

Question #4: Should I wear pants or a skirt for the exam?

It doesn’t matter because they’ll have you undress from the waist down and wear a medical gown. The good news is the gowns are normally oversized, and can sometimes tie in the back.

Question #5: Should I have my period information on hand?

Yes: It can help detect problems. You should know:

  • The last time you had your period

  • How old you were when you got your first period

  • How long your period typically lasts

  • How many pads or tampons you tend to need, or how often you need to empty your menstrual cup

It can be hard to answer these questions if your cycle is different from month to month (or you go months without having periods at all). If your cycle is very irregular, that’s important information to tell your doctor.

If you have any questions about your sexual health or about what’s going on “down there,” ask your gyno. A well-woman exam is no one’s favorite activity, but your sexual health is worth the effort.

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