From the onset of your first period as a teen to, well, pretty much the rest of your life, annual visits with your gynecologist are routine.
Due to the sensitive nature of the practice and the importance of trusting and being comfortable with your provider, finding the right gynecologist for you is incredibly important and not to be taken lightly.
For expert tips on finding the right doctor for you, BRIDES spoke with Dr. Susan Loeb-Zeitlin, ob/gyn at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine for her best advice.
As with many new relationships in life, input from others can go a long way. In fact, Dr. Loeb-Zeitlin says, “I think word of mouth is a good way (for finding the right gynecologist) followed by looking up the physician’s credentials and areas of expertise to see if they are relevant to you.” Additionally she adds, ‘I am biased towards recommending practices affiliated with an academic institution because I feel the providers are more up to date.”
So, beginning by asking your closest friends and family members about their chosen providers is a great way to start. Then, do your research and see which hospitals and organizations the doctors work with, and go from there.
Many physicians have targeted areas of expertise that can either make them a great fit for your needs, or exclude them. Loeb-Zeitlin explains that some OB/GYNs focus more on obstetrics (maternal care) while others only do gynecology. Some gynecologists may only provide office care and not perform procedures or surgeries, while others are frequently in operating rooms dealing with special conditions. Subspecialties include, urogynecology, gynecologic oncology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
If you have special conditions, symptoms ore are in need of more specialized care, you’ll want to carefully research subspecialties before deciding on a provider — even just for a consultation.
While you may not spend too much time thinking about it, your relationship with your gynecologist is unique and important. The type of trust and open communication is necessary, where you can bring up issues that they often cannot speak with anyone else about specifically issues related to intimacy and sexuality.
Making the Switch
If you find that you are no longer satisfied or comfortable with your gynecologist, or are simply in need of a new one due to relocation or other factors, it’s important to know what you are looking for prior to your first encounter. You should have reasonable expectations of your new provider, and Loeb-Zeitlin advises, “A patient may want to consider switching OB/GYNs if her concerns are not being addressed in an empathetic way or if she feels she cannot comfortably communicate her concerns.”
Ask the Right Questions
When finding a new practice or individual provider, Loeb-Zeitlin suggests asking the following questions:
- How is the practice run?
- What happens if/when the patient has an emergency?
- Who answers calls and how quickly are they returned?
- How long is the wait time in the office?
It’s also extremely important to find out which insurances are accepted and if the doctor is in or out of network. If you're a self-pay patient, be sure to ask for general fees upfront, too.
See more: Women’s Health? There’s an App for That
Other, more specific questions can also provide information that can help you to make a decision:
- Do they do in office laboratory work?
- Is there a digital patient portal for records and communication?
- Are there evening and/or weekend hours?
- What types of procedures are performed in the office?
- Are in-office ultrasounds available or do you have to go elsewhere?
- How many doctors cover the practice?
- If you are planning a future pregnancy, will they also provide your obstetrical care, or refer you elsewhere?
By following this advice, you’re much more likely to find a gynecologist with whom you are comfortable and happy with. Who knows — maybe you’ll even look forward to your next visit.