It’s time for your annual check-up and you completely forgot you have a date with the gyno. No time to freshen up or – eek! – shave. You can only imagine what your doctor will think. But don’t cancel that appointment just yet. “We see many patients in the office every day,” says Dr. Rosalinda Carrizales, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Community Medical Associates in San Angelo, Texas. “We don’t care what you think you look like; what matters is that you’re willing to assume the position for the sake of your personal health.” So, here's the rundown on what your doctor is really thinking when you're freaking out on the examination table.
You think: Oh no, I forgot to shave before my appointment!
Doctors think: “This may be the most-voiced concern,” says Dr. Carrizales. “As a professional, it only comes to my attention when the patient points it out. You and your partner are the only ones who know what you are accustomed to looking like. We’re just happy that you’re concerned enough about your health to be there.”
You think: If I tell her the truth about my sex life, she’s going to judge me.
Doctors think: Turns out doctors appreciate honesty. “This actually opens the door and allows us to educate our patients about the risks of STDs and the value of protection,” says Dr. Carrizales.
You think: I have an STD; the doctor is going to be disgusted with me.
Doctors think: “This is a part of some women’s sexual histories, period. No judgment,” says Dr. Carrizales. “Giving your sexual history should be as routine as telling us you have high blood pressure or diabetes.” Speaking up isn’t just important for a correct diagnosis; it can affect future health. Certain infections increase your chances of contracting other diseases and can even cause infertility.
You think: Do I smell down there?
Doctors think: You might think freshening up your nether regions is a good idea, but Dr. Carrizales strongly advises against going the douche route right before your appointment. “Pap smears are more accurate without artificial chemicals on the cervix, and douching can alter the results,” she cautions.
You think: Actually, I’d rather keep the embarrassing info to myself thankyouverymuch.
Doctors think: The doc can’t help if you leave out important details. “Trust that your physician has your best interest in mind,” says Dr. Carrizales. “If you aren’t comfortable telling him or her all of your sexual history, you need to find one who puts you at ease.”