What does RMC obstetrician-gynecologist Dr Beatrix Balogh recommend to our patients to help them prepare for their visit to the doctor?
Before attending an examination, many women worry that they didn't have time to go home and take a shower or shave their legs, or that they are still on their period, etc.. Believe us – there is no reason to worry! Ideally – for a smear test, for example – it's better to visit the gynecologist in the middle of your cycle. We will ask you about the first day of your last menstruation, any illnesses or operations, and any medication you take. Please try to consider these things before your visit.
It is also a good idea to write down any questions so you are less likely to forget them out of discomfort or embarassment.
If someone comes to us with specific symptoms, then the concerns listed above are even less problematic for a gynecologist, as often we can use the issue (e.g. bleeding, uncomfortable discharge) to establish a diagnosis and treat the patient. Of course, we have to take a look – we have to examine in order to heal.
'Wrong' or embarassing questions simply do not exist! If you prefer, we can also keep the conversation one-on-one.
The patient can't 'mess it up', or prepare for their visit in the wrong way. The most they can do is make it harder to establish a correct diagnosis by starting treatment at home (e.g. for a vaginal infection).
As a doctor, how do you try to reassure a nervous or embarassed patient?
I try to assume a body position that helps the patient see that I am 'open' towards her, e.g. I don't cross my arms. I also try to adjust my language to match my patient's. Once the medical records have been taken and I know what the problem is, we usually speak about more pleasant things during the examination itself, such as what the patient is planning to do at the weekend. I always try to distract their attention, and often at the end of the check-up they say, "Oh, was that it?" – this is the best kind of feedback.
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