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How Can I Help Ease My Anxiety About My Gyn Appointment?

Published: February 25, 2015
Dear How Can I Help Ease My Anxiety About My Gyn Appointment?,

I'm nervous about seeing a gynecologist. I'm 21. The only doctor I've gone to is my pediatrician. When I see my pediatrician I do get a breast exam, but he just has me unhook my bra and he lifts up my shirt and does it. I'm not exposed for it but I even get uncomfortable with that. And the thought of how the gynecologist does it with that gown on is making me stressed. The even worse thought is having my vagina looked at and touched. With my current doctor he just lifts my pants and underwear a little takes a quick look and just feels the edge of that area on the top. I get so tense even with just that. I'm going to be so anxious to have that whole area of me exposed with the doctor looking at it and touching. I'm scared and it makes me want to cry...how can I get myself to not be so anxious about it?


Dear How Can I Help Ease My Anxiety About My Gyn Appointment?,

The thought of a first pelvic exam is an anxiety-provoking one for many young women. So TeenHealthFX can appreciate the worry you are experiencing around this. However, it is important for you to find a way to deal with your anxieties about visits with a gynecologist so they don’t interfere with this important part of routine healthcare for women.

TeenHealthFX recommends the following to help ease your anxiety:

  • Familiarize yourself with what is involved with a pelvic exam. The Center for Young Women’s Health has an article, Your First Pelvic Exam, explaining this exam in detail.

  • Familiarize yourself with your vagina. Learn what the different parts are and what they are called. You can look at labeled drawings of the vagina. You can also take a mirror and take a look at your own vagina. The more comfortable you are with this part of your body, the more you will be comfortable with the idea of your doctoring performing a pelvic exam.

  • Pick a reputable gynecologist to meet with you whom you will feel comfortable with. You can get referrals for reputable gynecologists from friends, family members or your pediatrician. It would also be helpful for you to think about whether you’d be more comfortable with a male or female gynecologist and go with that.  

  • Bring a close friend or family member to the appointment with you. Whether they provide support beforehand, or accompany you into the exam room and hold your hand during the exam, you might find the support helpful.

  • Let your doctor know that this will be your first pelvic exam and that you are feeling very anxious about it. It is important for your doctor to be aware of your anxiety so that he/she can proceed in a way that will put you most at ease.

  • Do something before and during the exam that will help to relax you. You can do breathing exercises, listen to soothing music, or do some imagery work (such as visualizing walking on a calm, beautiful beach).

If anxiety is a general issue for you, or your anxiety around these exams is feeling too intense or overwhelming for you to be able to get through the exam, consider meeting with a mental health professional about it, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist. Working with a therapist can help you to better manage your anxiety regardless of whether it’s a general issue or specific to gynecological exams. There are also therapists who practice hypnotherapy, a technique that could be used to get through a specific anxiety-provoking experience, such as pelvic exam.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

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