Choosing a Gynecologist

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • An annual visit to your gynecologist is important to your overall health. Taking care of your reproductive health is essential not only in childbearing years but during perimenopause and menopause as well. These visits, however, can be uncomfortable for some women. Conversations about your sex life and having someone poke and prod in private areas are hard if you don’t feel at ease with your doctor. If you are looking for a new gynecologist, now is the time to make sure you choose the one that will best suit your needs.


    The following tips should help you make the right choice (however, remember if it isn’t the right choice, you have the right to change doctors):

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    Decide what you want from a doctor.


    What are your needs? What is your life situation? If you are looking to start a family, look for a obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) who can continue to care for you during your pregnancy. If you have current women’s health conditions, you want to make sure that your new doctor is familiar with the conditions and has experiencing in treating it. If you aren’t sure whether a doctor can treat you properly, call and ask for a phone consultation with the doctor before making a decision.


    Ask around.


    Talk to family, friends, trusted coworkers and your family doctor. Ask who they would recommend and why. If you recently moved to an area and don’t know anyone, call your local hospital and ask to speak with the lead nurse in the obstetrics department. They are probably familiar with the OB/GYN doctors in the area and can give you valuable information on the differences between the doctors. This should help you narrow your search to a few doctors.


    Do your homework.


    Once you have the names of several doctors, do your homework. You can check online, at sites such as Healthgrades, to see ratings and reviews (if any are posted) about the doctors. Check with your local or state health department or visit the American Medical Association website to make sure the doctor’s license is valid. Ask if the license has ever been sanctioned. Gather information on credentials, specialties, years in practice, education, possible malpractice suits. You also want to check to be sure the doctor accepts your health insurance, ask what hospital the doctor is affiliated with and be sure the location is convenient and has ample and well lighted parking areas. .


    Decide if gender matters.


    While both male and female doctors can offer the same level of care, some women feel more comfortable with one gender or the other. Some women feel more comfortable talking about intimacy issues, sexual concerns or health issues with another woman while others find it easier to talk to a man. If you have a preference, choose a doctor that fits.


    Set the first appointment for consultation only.


    If you would prefer to talk to the doctor before your annual gynecological appointment, request a consultation appointment only the first time. This gives you a chance to meet the doctor and find out if you feel comfortable. If there is anything about the doctor or the office that makes you uncomfortable, you can choose not to come back and continue your search. During your consultation, make sure your philosophy and values are shared by the doctor, for example, if you plan to or use birth control, and the doctor disapproves of birth control, then it isn’t the right doctor for you. Find out if the doctor employs a physician’s assistant who might be doing some of the routine exams. If so, ask if you can meet him or her to make sure you feel comfortable with that person. While you are in the office, notice how the doctor speaks with the nurses and how the office staff treats you.


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    Pay attention to how well the doctor listens to your concerns.


    Good doctors should have compassion and treat you with respect. They should listen to your concerns and take them seriously. They should explain their advice and tell you why they think it is the best course of action. If you feel rushed or leave feeling the doctor didn’t adequately listen and address your concerns, you should probably keep looking.

    Despite all of your work, you might choose a doctor and find out after a few appointments that this is not the right doctor for you. If you notice red flags during any of your visits, keep in mind that your decision does not need to be permanent, you can continue looking until you find the doctor that is right for you.

Published On: November 11, 2014