How To Build A Good Relationship With Your OB-GYN
It's hard to imagine becoming BFF with a woman (or man) when your feet are in stirrups. But, learning how to build a good relationship with your OB-GYN is vital for one main reason: your health. By now, you're used to getting an annual check up at the gynecologist's office, which is when you'll get screened for any STIs or STDs, as well as have your breasts examined for lumps (and get notes on how to give yourself a breast exam). According to the United States Library of Medicine, you'll also receive a pap test, which checks for cervical cancer.
Additionally, your OB-GYN will weigh you to make sure you're a healthy weight, especially if you are trying to conceive, OB-GYN Dr. Kimberly Napolitano told Healthgrades. Speaking of conception, your OB-GYN will also discuss birth control, family planning, and answer any questions you have about contraception. Mainly, they do a lot.
And because doctors are people before they are MDs, each one has a different bedside manner. Some OB-GYNs ask what may seem like invasive questions about your life, career, and when (or if) you plan on starting a family. Although you don't want to ever feel judged, you do want to make sure your health care practitioner is being comprehensive. With this in mind, you want to have a good relationship with the person who's all up in your business (literally). The following are things you should do (and, in some cases, should not do) in order to build a good relationship with your OB-GYN.
1. Do Your Research
Clinical professor of OB-GYN at the UCLA School of Medicine in Santa Monica, Dr. William Parker told USA News that you want to research how to find an OB-GYN that's right for you. Although word-of-mouth referrals are always a great resource, also consider if you have any special needs. If so, you want to make sure your doctor specializes in those, so you can get the care you're entitled to under the Affordable Care Act, which includes well-woman exams. By choosing a doctor who is in tune with your special needs, you're already starting off your relationship with your OB-GYN on the right foot.
2. Be Honest About Everything
The gynecologist's office is not a time for secrets. In fact, according to CNN, the things you should never feel ashamed to tell your gynecologist can potentially keep you healthy, happy, and at ease with your body, which is what a good physician wants for you. So, don't hold anything back from your OB-GYN, whether it's a past pregnancy termination or your penchant for swilling cocktails. It's all relevant, and nothing to be ashamed of.
3. Ask Your OB-GYN About Other Health Concerns
For many women, the OB-GYN is their primary care physician (all the more reason to have a good relationship with them.) OB-GYN Dr. Jessica Shepherd told Healthgrades that they see their job as "treating the whole woman," so it's totally fine to ask your OB-GYN about other health concerns. This will help you build trust, and give your doctor a full picture of who you are as a patient.
4. Don't Expect To Be BFF With Your Doctor (He Has Plenty)
Although your OB-GYN will definitely perform counseling (that's part of his job, according to the aforementioned USA Today article) don't misinterpret that care for friendship. This relationship is by nature intimate, but professionally so. According to NPR, your doctor won't friend you on Facebook. Facts.
5. Speak Your Mind If You Feel Uncomfortable
Sometimes people say the wrong things. That includes doctors. Maybe your doctor has had a grueling day; maybe he's not thinking when he says something about your family planning, dating life, or lifestyle that offends you. He's human. If the comment really bothers you, you should tell your doctor how you feel, because if you don't, you might not be honest about things that could potentially harm your health.
A major sticking point for patients comes up if they want to seek a second opinion. According to Everyday Health, you should be up front with your "first-opinion" doctor that you’re not questioning his or her knowledge, but rather that you just want to be thorough.
6. Don't Feel Guilty About Calling Your OB-GYN With Questions
The New York Times reported that you should not hesitate to call your doctor, especially if you're waiting for test results and you haven't heard back. Sometimes small slip-ups occur (remember that doctors are people too) and your health should not suffer as a result. This doesn't make you pushy, just a good patient, and will help nurture your relationship with your OB-GYN, which like any other relationship, is a two-way street.
7. Ask Your OB-GYN What Types Of Procedures She Performs
According to NBC some doctors won't perform abortions due to religious beliefs or conflicts with personal ethics, and that's their legal right. If you don't feel comfortable being treated by a physician who won't perform pregnancy terminations, then that person isn't the right fit for you. It's totally valid to ask your physician about what he or she does or doesn't do, and why. Knowing the answers will help you build a good relationship with your OB-GYN, or send you looking for a new doc.
8. Refer Your Doctor To Friends
In the same vein of "doctors are people too," doctors love referrals. Pointing out that you referred your OB-GYN to a friend during your office visit is totally cool, and a way to break the ice when your feet are in the air.
9. Leave An Online Review For Your Doctor
With City MD practitioners popping up on every corner these days, it's valuable to review your OB-GYN on a service like Yelp. In fact, if you pay out of pocket for visits like I do, you might even get a reward when you check in and review your doctor (obviously, be honest). Reviews help put patients in your OB-GYN's office, and also humanize the whole doctor-patient relationship.