Q: I’m 24 and I’ve only had one gynecological exam in my whole life. I’m scared of gynecologists (sorry!) and the one time I went (it was a school nurse), she told me my uterus is not sitting in the middle; it’s off to the right. I’d really like to have kids someday. Will I be able to?
A: Most importantly, let’s talk about going to the gynecologist. A visit to a gynecologist should not be a scary event. I won’t lie to you and tell you it will be totally comfortable and a barrel of fun, but let’s make it not scary. Talk with friends who feel comfortable with their gynecologist, and maybe even accompany one of them to a visit. Many young women feel more comfortable with a female practitioner, and there are a lot of women in this specialty today. If no one knows of a good woman, talk to your county medical society. The secretaries there are usually excellent sources of recommendations – they know who’s good and who’s nice in the area.
Let your new doctor know you are anxious about the whole thing. A good doctor will take a history from you with your clothes on, before ever going near an examination room. She then will bring you back to an exam room. If you would like a friend to be with you, that should be fine. She will do a physical exam on you. A good doctor will not place a cold speculum (the thing use to show the cervix) into your vagina – she will either have had it on a heating pad, or will warm it up. She will use lots of lubricant on the finger she places into the vagina to do what it’s called a bimanual exam, feeling the uterus between the finger in the vagina and a hand on the belly.
As for what the previous examiner told you, it is not unusual for the uterus to tilt to the side, or to tilt backwards. If the uterus is extremely tilted to one side, she may want to do an ultrasound – a totally safe and non-invasive sound-wave exam – to look at your pelvis. Rarely, there are unusual formations of the uterus, present since birth, but that would be extremely uncommon. I can truly say that if you have been having regular periods, I cannot think of a malformation that would keep you from having a normal pregnancy.
So I don’t want you to worry on account of any funny locations of your pelvic organs. Most importantly, I don’t want you to be afraid of getting good health care, which is very important to helping you have a healthy baby when you want to.