Choosing a gynecologist is an important part of your gynecological health. Whether you are experiencing troublesome symptoms, are thinking about starting a family or it’s time for your yearly feminine checkup, a gynecologist can perform an examination and address any concerns you might have about your reproductive system.
There are several things to keep in mind that can help you choose the right gynecologist. You want to find a doctor you can trust and who is familiar with any special issues that are important to you, such as fertility supplements for women, egg health or getting pregnant after 40. Keep these tips on choosing a gynecologist in mind as you conduct your search so you can feel confident in the care you receive for your reproductive health.
1. Get Recommendations
When you begin your search for a gynecologist, ask other women you trust for recommendations. This includes friends, especially if they face the same reproductive or vaginal health issues as you are experiencing. Your primary care doctor or female relatives are also valuable resources. Recommendations are extremely helpful in choosing a gynecologist because the women you speak to are more likely to be honest about their experiences.
They may tell you the name of the practitioner who helped them address their fertility issues, or they might warn you to stay away from a doctor who made them feel uncomfortable or judged. Gather a list of recommendations and make notations of what is said about each gynecologist. Ask questions about their bedside manner and qualifications, and write this information down.
2. Read Reviews
When looking for a gynecologist, it is a good idea to find their profile online and read the reviews. Healthgrades.com is a user-friendly review resource that breaks down the practitioner’s profile into at-a-glance sections and detailed patient reviews. Vitals.com is another good resource for investigating gynecologist reviews. This site provides a quick facts section that gives you an overall rating and factual information, including their hospital affiliation, years of practicing and specialty areas.
Take note of any recurring patient comments, both good and bad. Also, pay close attention to the factors that are important to you when reading reviews. Review sites often ask patients to rate their visit based on wait time, trustworthiness, office environment, staff attitude and convenience of scheduling. If one of these is more important to you than others, check out what people say about that particular element to judge whether the practitioner would be a good fit for you.
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3. Check Qualifications, Certifications and Background
It is essential to know where a potential gynecologist received their education and what credentials they hold. You can typically find this information on the review site (although third-party sites may have outdated or incorrect information) or by looking up their bio on their practice’s website. Also vital to your search is finding out if a practitioner has been involved in any lawsuits, disciplinary actions, official complaints or other troubling actions taken against them in their background. While checking this information, investigate the following information about the gynecologist and make notes about what you find.
- Are they certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology?
- Where did they graduate from medical school?
- Where did they complete their residency?
- What hospital affiliations do they have?
- How long have they been practicing?
- Are there any malpractice suits, disciplinary actions or complaints filed against them?
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4. Ask About Specialties
Knowing what specialties a practitioner holds certification in is important in choosing a gynecologist. If you face specific reproductive health concerns like endometriosis, cervical cancer, vaginal prolapse or infertility, you will want to find a doctor who specializes in that area.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists lists several subspecialties that a practitioner might become certified in. For instance, if you suffer from a chronic health condition that will affect your pregnancies, you may want to find a gynecologist that focuses on maternal-fetal medicine to ensure you have the proper level of care in place. Decide which of these focuses are important to your health situation, and ensure the practitioner you are considering has this certification:
- Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
- Gynecologic oncology.
- Reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
- Family planning.
- Hospice and palliative medicine.
- Critical care medicine.
There are also non-boarded subspecialties that you might look for, including menopausal and geriatric gynecology, pediatric and adolescent gynecology and minimally invasive gynecological surgery.
5. Look at the Logistics
A critical step in finding the right gynecologist is to look at the logistics. One aspect to consider is where their office is located. Ideally, you will find a practitioner whose office is close to where you reside. This is especially true if you have a condition like endometriosis that necessitates making visits multiple times per year. Another element to investigate is whether the practitioner accepts your insurance. Gynecology exams can be expensive out of pocket. If you have a specialty condition, you need to ensure that the practice not only takes your insurance but that your insurance covers your reproductive concerns.
6. Judge Your Comfort Level
When you finally schedule an appointment with a gynecologist, consider several aspects while in the office. You do not have to stay with a practitioner who makes you uncomfortable or whose values do not align with yours, so treat your first visit like an interview. You are determining whether you and the gynecologist are a good fit. Pay attention to their bedside manner. If they speak harshly or with judgment, you may have to find another practitioner even if they are highly qualified. Also, home in on their values. If they express strong opinions on reproductive health or seem rigid in their approach to treating your conditions, they may not be a good fit for you.
Finally, allow yourself to get a sense of your overall comfort level with the doctor. They will be providing care for the most intimate, personal area of your health and, therefore, you should feel as comfortable as possible in their care. It’s a good idea to ask them about various subjects, such as support for your sexual health concerns or what treatments they would recommend for conceiving after 35, to determine how comfortable they make you when talking about such delicate topics.
Make an Informed Choice
Receiving care from the right gynecologist is a vital part of your reproductive health. When choosing a gynecologist, gather a list of recommendations from women you trust, read patient reviews online and investigate their qualifications, history and certifications. By keeping these tips in mind, you can make an informed choice about your reproductive health care provider and receive the best care possible.