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Relax! Get over your gyno hang-ups

Dreading your next visit to the gynecologist? We can read your mind—and help you fight your fears.
SELF_GYN 044Nathan Ellis Perkel / SELF
/ Source: Self

Dreading your next visit? We can read your mind—and help you fight your fears.

“I hate those stirrups.”
SELF says: Ask your doctor if she’ll do the exam without them. A study in the British Medical Journal found that keeping your feet on the table doesn’t affect a physician’s ability to perform the test accurately. Plus, this position may feel more natural for you, helping reduce physical and mental discomfort.

“I’m afraid it will hurt.”
SELF says: When you’re panicky, your body tenses, so it’s more difficult for your doc to insert the speculum, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob/gyn at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Translation: more pain. Try relaxing your forehead; doing this makes it harder to constrict your vagina. You can also ask her to use a narrow speculum.

“What if I can’t get waxed beforehand?”
SELF says: Don’t sweat it. Medical gloves provide a buffer against stubble. You may not want to go too bare down there anyway; pubic hair helps trap bacteria, preventing it from entering your vagina. Still stressed? “Whatever you’re embarrassed about, I promise, your doc has seen it all!” Dr. Minkin says. Besides, she cares only about your health—not your grooming habits.

“What if I stink?”
SELF says: Everyone’s genital area has a slight scent. But if you’re worried about it, grab the first appointment of the day when you’re feeling most fresh. (Bonus: You’ll cut down on wait time, too.) If you notice a stronger-than-usual or fishy odor, tell your M.D. You might have a bacterial infection, which requires treatment.