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16 Things Your Gyno Really Wants You To Know

They definitely don't care what your hair looks like down there.

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1. They're not judging your grooming habits.

Don't worry about what they think of your Brazilian or full bush. They're really not paying attention to that. "So many people apologize for not shaving or waxing or showering right before they came," Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB-GYN and co-author of V Is For Vagina, tells BuzzFeed Life. "Obviously nobody wants you to come in right after you've run a marathon, but we really truly don't look at anything like that."

2. You know that super weird, embarrassing question that you REALLY don't want to ask? Just ask it.

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Chances are, they know exactly what that bump/rash/smell/discharge actually is and they can deal with it, no problem. They've seen and heard everything, so you might as well bring it up if you're even the least bit concerned. "Don't automatically assume something is good or bad," Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN and clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, tells BuzzFeed Life. "Just ask about it."

3. They really want to hear about your sex life.

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They don't need to know everything, but it would be helpful to know if you're having sex, if your partner has a penis or a vagina, if you're not sure about your partner's STI status, if you have multiple partners, etc. This information can help them give you the testing and treatment you need, says Dweck. If you're not comfortable talking to your gyno about this stuff, you might want to find another doctor.

And if you have any questions about libido, orgasms, lubrication, or any other sexual issues, definitely bring that up. If you don't talk to your gyno about this stuff, really, which other doctor would you ask?


4. And they definitely want to know if sex is uncomfortable or painful.

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Pain or discomfort during sex could be nothing, but it also could be something — especially if it happens more than once. The thing is, your gyno can usually help pinpoint (and hopefully treat) whatever the issue is, says Dweck. But only if you tell them about it.

You should also tell them if anything eventful (and relevant) happened to you during sex — like if the condom broke or came off inside you, if you had a little bleeding afterward, if you got a crazy headache when you orgasmed, any of that stuff. Again, it could be no big deal, but you'll feel a lot better once you bring it up.

5. Let them know if your period is literal hell, too. They can probably help with that.

Your gyno knows a thing or two about horrific cramps and bleeding for days, and they can usually help — whether it's putting you on a certain birth control method or running some tests to see if it's something more than PMS. They can also suggest some helpful tricks, like these ways to make your period suck less.

6. They might broach the topic of fertility, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have an opinion about your life choices.

This can be a tricky conversation for patients and physicians because no one wants to be presumptuous, insensitive, or put on the spot. But from your gynecologist's point of view, they just want to be sure that their patients have all the information they need — if they need it. "There are a lot of women who do not know that at 35 and above it can be harder to get pregnant," says Dweck. She says that she'll usually ask patients during their annual visit if they have any plans or questions about fertility or conceiving. "It's not to be judgmental at all, but it's a way to bring it up and open up the line of communication."

Obviously there are cases where you doctor may not tackle this issue as sensitively as they should, and that sucks. If you feel very strongly that your doctor should not bring this up until you do, feel free to tell them that and ask them to put a note in your file.

7. They really want you to stop using all those products to clean your vulva.

"For the love of all that is holy, please stop douching." —Gynecologists everywhere*

The vagina is self-cleaning, so you really don't need to be putting anything up there. And when it comes to cleaning the rest of the area, stay away from anything more than a gentle, unscented soap. "Some people do fine putting anything down there, but less is more when it comes to vaginal hygiene," says Dweck.

*Not a direct quote from every gynecologist on Earth, but you get it.


8. If there are health issues that run in your family, they want to know that.

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More people are talking to their doctors about genetic testing for certain cancers, and that's definitely something you can bring up to your gyno. Let them know if one or more relatives was diagnosed with the same disease or type of cancer — especially breast or ovarian cancers. "This is a gene we actually do know how to test for," says Dweck. You should also let them know if you have a personal or family history of blood clots, since that can determine which birth control methods are right for you.

9. They can help you find a birth control you actually like — so ask them!

Your gyno knows that not every birth control is right for every person, so the more information you give them about yourself and your life, the better they'll be at helping you pick one. They want to know about your medical history, family history, how your period is, and what you're actually looking for in a birth control, says Dweck. Have migraines, adult acne, and a tendency to forget to take pills every day? Those are all important things to tell them.

10. If you ask them to test you for every sexually transmitted infection, they're probably going to test you for only a few of them.

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When you say "test me for everything," what you'll usually get tested for are chlamydia and gonorrhea, and sometimes syphilis, says Minkin. That's because these are the STI tests that are routinely recommended for most women. For more information on who should get tested for what, check out our complete guide to STI-testing recommendations.

But if you've had unprotected sex, you have any symptoms, or you just think you might be at risk for something else, talk to your doctor about that. In certain cases, it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask to be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis C, says Minkin. But your doctor will probably ask for more information about your sexual habits to make sure you really need them.

There are also some tests they may not recommend. Based on the current guidelines, routine testing for herpes is not recommend unless you have symptoms or think you've been exposed, and routine HPV testing is not recommended in women under 30.

11. When you do get tested, follow up to ask about your results.

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"It upsets me when people automatically assume no news is good news," says Dweck. Obviously some doctors will tell you that they'll only call if there are abnormal test results, but it's still a good idea to check in just in case. Mistakes happen, so it never hurts to call and ask about your results if you're concerned, she says.


12. They really want to see you once a year — even if you don't need a Pap smear.

A crucial part of the routine gynecological exam is the Pap test, which helps detect any cervical cell changes that may be cancerous or precancerous. This is the part where your doctor inserts the speculum into your vagina and quickly swabs the inside of your cervix. According to new guidelines from the American Cancer Society, you actually don't need this test every year, but that doesn't mean you should skip your appointment entirely. "I still strongly encourage people to go in for an annual visit — if nothing else than to talk about health habits," says Minkin.

In case you're curious, the new guidelines recommend women ages 21–29 get a Pap test once every three years, and women ages 30–65 get a Pap test and HPV test together every five years or a Pap test alone every three years. If you've had an abnormal test result or are at a higher risk for cervical cancer, you may need to be screened more often.

13. And don't freak out about an abnormal Pap smear. It might be nothing.

Getting a phone call that your Pap smear found abnormal cells in your cervix can put you in an immediate panic, but try not to jump to the worst-case scenario. This might just mean that you need to repeat the test, or it might involve getting a colposcopy (where your doctor looks at your cervix through a microscope), or it could involve treating or removing abnormal cells, says Dweck. Try to remain calm until the next available appointment, and call your doctor if you have any questions about what your follow-up might entail.

14. If you'd like to avoid part of the exam, talk to them about that.

Certain aspects of a gynecological exam can be painful or triggering for some people, and your doctor should understand that. If you know in advance that you'd like to opt out of a part of the exam (whether that's the bimanual exam or hearing your weight), tell your doctor at the beginning of the visit. "Unless I'm really nervous about something medically, that's perfectly fine," says Dweck. And if at any point during the exam you feel uncomfortable, don't be afraid to speak up.

15. Your gynecologist should be someone you actually like and trust, so don't settle for someone who is just OK.

Gynecological appointments can be intimate and sometimes invasive, so feeling safe and secure with this person is crucial. If you feel judged, uncomfortable, or just not heard by your doctor, it may be time to find a new one. Recommendations from friends are often the most helpful, but you can also try sites like ZocDoc.

You can also find LGBT-friendly physicians at,, or These are databases where providers have specifically submitted their offices as being LGBT-friendly or specializing in LGBT care.

16. Going to your annual appointment is great! But it's not enough to stay on top of your sexual and reproductive health.

"No matter how many exams I do on someone, I can't be with them 24 hours a day," says Minkin. She wants to know that you're using protection, using birth control correctly if you're on it, eating right, not drinking too much, not smoking, and taking note of anything that seems off — all the time. "Someone who is unhealthy but goes to the doctor all the time may think they're doing prevention, but what they're really doing is early detection," she says. So make sure you're not just thinking about this stuff once a year when your feet are in the stirrups.