As uncomfortable as it may be, an annual “down-there” tune-up is necessary. So feeling fab about your obstetrician/gynecologist may make an inherently awkward exam easier—and help you feel protected as well.
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“Some superb surgeons have the personalities of toads,” says Ob/Gyn Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and co-author of A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Health. “But in an Ob/Gyn, you want a little more personality: He’s dealing with your sexual issues, so you need to feel comfortable with him.”
Below are some clues that it may be time to move on.
1. Your exam is more judgment day than doc appointment. “If you’re having sex with six people, you need to be able to talk about it with your Ob/Gyn without feeling judged,” says Minkin. “If you’re not comfortable, it’s not a good match.”
2. She’s got no communication skills. “If you don’t feel that your Ob/Gyn listens to you, or she seems rushed, or finishes your sentences,” make a change, says Dr. Sara Gottfried, medical director of the Gottfried Center for Integrative Medicine, Berkeley, Calif., and author of The Hormone Cure. Consider breaking it off, too, if she brushes off your questions.
3. You don’t agree on important issues. “Some doctors are right-to-life ones,” says Minkin. “If you get pregnant and want an abortion, you may not want someone who is right-to-life.” The opposite is true: If you are against abortions, and your doctor offers them, you may want to find another doctor. The same holds about alternative approaches: If you want someone open to those, you’ll want to shy away from a traditionalist.
4. You don’t get prompt responses. If you have tests and your Ob/Gyn doesn’t promptly let you know the results, says Minkin, it’s time for a shift.
5. When he focuses more pregnancy, and you’re not planning to have any more. “When you’re done having babies, you still need a gynecologist,” says Gottfried. “You need Pap smears, a thorough exam of lady parts (screening for genital warts or skin changes, for example).” You also need a Gyn who notices problems early, such as pelvic organ prolapse–the formal name for a droopy bladder, uterus, or rectum—the possible result of carrying a baby for nine months.
6. He (or she) is the wrong gender. “My gyn is a man—and the royal children were delivered by a man,” says Minkin. “Don’t automatically assume that a woman Ob/Gyn is going to be fabulous.” But if you simply would feel more comfortable with a woman, she says, make that choice.
7. She’s always running late. “This is a double-edged sword,” says Minkin. “If you want someone who will listen to you, that doctor may not always run on time. And if you want an [in-out] appointment, don’t be pissed off if the doctor doesn’t listen to you.”