It's one of those appointments even adults dread. But as a young woman you need to prioritise your first appointment with a gynaecologist and obstetrician to really know what's going on inside you.
Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are just some of the illnesses that may be picked up early so they can be managed properly from the outset, says gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Lusanda Shimange-Matsose.
Her advice is to research all the things you want to know about and write a list of questions that you want the doctor to clarify ahead of your fist visit.
“A very common question is, ‘what is a pap smear and is it sore?’.
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"A papsmear is a screening tool that is used to look for precancerous lesions for cervical cancer . It may be uncomfortable, but it all varies. Some patients are anxious about having a papsmear. Depending on the clinical findings, there may be little spotting from sampling but it’s unlikely to be heavy bleeding. Ideally, a pap smear should be done annually."
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If you feel comfortable with that gynae, stick with them. If not, find another if you can, she says.
“In terms of how regularly you need to visit your gynae after your first visit all depends on your reason or the result of the first visit. It all depends on the changes you are experiencing as a woman and the stage of life you are in. As you get older, it should be yearly,” says the Founder of My First Gynae Youtube Channel.
"It is important to know that age is not a defining factor when visiting a gynaecologist for the first time. There really is no hard or fast rule but I personally recommend that your first visit is before your first period; ideally before puberty or during puberty. Mostly, the first time some women see a gynae is when they fall pregnant,” says Dr Shimange-Matsose.
“We don’t do an internal where it’s not necessary, especially if you have not had your first sexual debut. Your first gynae visit is the start of your women’s health journey. The consultation has a clinical and educational element to it. The clinical aspect is to address any issues and educational concerns that could help dispel any myths and ultimately enhance your understanding of a woman’s health.”