What questions did you ask when finding a gynecologist?

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I am a childless woman who was just devastated to find out that my awesome gynecologist, someone I luckily stumbled into when I was just a youngin’, is retiring this year. My husband and I have decided that babies are definitely on the horizon, and we will start trying in the next year or two. I would like to find a new healthcare provider, and this time with the consideration of bringing a new babe into the world and possibly utilizing a midwife in the future.

What great questions did you offbeat mamas ask your gynecologists? Any questions you wish you would have asked? -Rachel

Keep scrolling through the comments to see all the great questions and tips our readers have for finding a gynecologist…

Comments on What questions did you ask when finding a gynecologist?

  1. I’ve been lucky enough to have two very great OB/GYN’s in my adult life. The first one (who moved last year. /sadface) came in, told me she was in love with my neon hair, and I told her I appreciated her Strawberry Shortcake socks. After her move, I was meeting the new doc and first thing she did was compliment my pink hair, and I had taken note she was wearing Care Bears socks.

    As for the serious stuff, I talked. I told her about me, and how I felt about my body and what I wanted to do, and she listened. Her listening, and not cutting me off saying “Well, we don’t do that… We don’t do this… I don’t believe in such-and-such.” etc. For me, it was less about asking questions and more about the fact that she just fell right in line with what I already believed about myself.

    It has helped this time (as I am now in month 8 of my pregnancy) that my doctor has also suffered miserable pregnancies (I STILL have morning sickness), and she is able to sympathize with me. If you have things you are for certain on (specific birthing practices and the such), just ask them. There is NOTHING you can ask your doc they haven’t heard before.

    My biggest questions were regarding birthing positions (I did NOT want to be on my back if I could help it), and whether or not I would be able to continue my yoga (both insisted it was a FANTASTIC thing to do while pregnant).

    Good luck in your search, and remember to check their socks!! πŸ˜‰

    • And if you do ask them something they haven’t heard before, their reaction toward it is telling in itself. I tend to ask some pretty offbeat questions of my doctors, and the ones I’ve liked have been the ones who just kinda rolled with it or admitted they had no idea.

    • Hi Lizzi!! I loved your reply!!! Just wanted to ask if you are doing the same exercise in yoga, same positions, strength ect, as you before your pregnancy, or you do special yoga for pregnant women? I love yoga, and don’t want to give it up, now that I try to get pregnant for the second time! Thank you , and forgive me for consuming space here for an irrelevant subject :))

  2. Depending on your needs, why not just go with a midwife? Our practice did well women checks as well as childbirth. The most important thing with any practitioner is seeing how well they listen. If you have any specific goals when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, it would be good to discuss those up front.

    • Yes! I switched over and started seeing a midwife for my annual exams three years ago and she is who I continue to see now that I am pregnant with my first. She works with several other midwives and OB’s as part of a larger practice but I know that the midwives at the birthing center in my town also perform well-women exams.
      I really liked already having built a relationship with my caregiver well before my pregnancy (and it helped that she didn’t look at me cross-eyed when I said that I charted using FAM for birth control, turns out she did it for 10 years too).

    • I tried this, and wasn’t able to even get an appointment without being pregnant in my jurisdiction (British Columbia).

      • Same in Ontario.
        When meeting my new secondary midwife I asked her what her thoughts on unassisted childbirth are. I plan to have my baby in a hospital, but I just wanted to know her reaction; be it judgemental, flaky, closed-minded, etc. (She passed the test.)

    • I’m not going to have children, but I wonder, would going to a midwife for my yearly exams be a good option for me? By that I mean, do people do that? I’d like to not experience the ‘doctor office’ feeling of going to get my exams, but I’m not sure how to do that.

      • I don’t see why you couldn’t use a midwife without the intent of pregnancy (barring insurance/national healthcare issues). I still see mine post-baby and don’t necessarily intend to get pregnant again. Call a local midwifery group and ask πŸ™‚

      • Depends where you live. Here in Quebec you can only get an appointment with a midwife if you’re already pregnant (and even then it might be a long waiting list…) and I hear Ontario is the same. I don’t know about the rest of Canada or the US though. Midwives in general have a different approach than doctors, much more “natural”, so if that’s something you like, why not try calling around to see how things work where you live?

      • I’ve enjoyed going to a nurse practitioner rather than an OB for my yearly exams… It’s still been office-y, but somehow still feels a little different.

    • Thank you for this comment! It had never even occurred to me to find a midwife for yearly exams even though I want one for future pregnancies. I just emailed one and she said they accept PPO insurance and to call her to set up an appt. I’m actually stoked! Thanks!!

  3. I had an amazing OB I found by:

    -The obvious “ask your offbeat friends about their dr’s”

    -Asking L&D nurses which Dr’s they worked with were good about the things that were important to me

    -The less obvious route was through my feminist action group. I ended up choosing a doctor who backed the organization and was vocal about the catering to the gamut of diversity among women.

    • That’s how i got mine. My midwife kept sending me to triage and the nurse there set me up with my doc.

  4. I’m in a similar situation, Rachel. Wondering how people find awesome offbeat gynecologists. I just started seeing a new gynecologist after finding out I was pregnant. At my 4-week appointment, he recommended I have an epidural when the time comes. Not cool. He didn’t even ask me what my ideal childbirth would be like. He just said that “most women need the epidural, so I’m going to recommend you have one.” Ugg. You don’t even know me, guy! But I suppose it’s all about making more money for them. Where are the compassionate doctors?

  5. Meant to add that a lot of pregnancy books/journals include lists of questions to ask. You might want to check out the library or a book store.

  6. I’m really looking for some good advice here, so I’ll be watching. I’ve been struggling to find a gyno. My problem is that I have to drive an hour for any health care (thanks, insurance) so it’s really hard for me just to pop in and check them out. I’m not having kids for awhile, but I’ve been having issues with vomiting and nausea after orgasm. The gyno I went to criticized me for living with my boyfriend, asked, “are you getting married? Like, soon?” and then told me that I could fix my problem by never orgasming again. I feel hurt, betrayed, and mocked… I’m too scared to go to another gyno to talk about it again.

    • I would report that doctor. No doctor should make you feel shame for your life choices. I’m so sorry you went to what you thought was a doctor’s appointment and ended up instead in a judgment chamber.

    • I would definitely look for a new doctor. How unprofessional! I assure you, not all doctors are jerks.

      • That… sounds like what I’ve been experiencing! Oh wow, thank you. Currently, I’ve been collecting data so I can come in with a whole list of how I feel and what happens before and after. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll add this to the list!

    • You should do more than find another doctor. You should report this doctor to a) his or her employer or partners if they exist and b) whatever organization oversees medical licenses in your community.

      This response was completely unprofessional and I can only imagine how many other people he or she has been equally callous to.

  7. A good gyno is worth every moment of the search! Best of luck to you on this journey.

    Since babies are on the horizon I would make sure to ask if she/he (i’ve had one awesome male gyno, they exist), does prenatal and birth care. My awesome current (female) gyno doesn’t do birth and prenatal, that was ok as I wanted to see a midwife for that, but it was heartbreaking for some of her other clients.

    Its a little awkward to bring it up, but asking about THEIR sexual behaviors can tell you a lot about how someone will treat you. Also, if someone does the Vagina Monologues near you the show seems to be a mecca for awesome gynos!

  8. I’m not sure if this offbeat-relevant or just good doctor-relevant, but I discovered when I was trying to get pregnant (and having trouble/needing fertility treatments,) that it’s important to me to be able to get my doctor on the phone. With my gyno, I was only ever able to talk to her medical assistant (who was super condescending and annoying to talk to) unless I went in for an appointment. I hated always having to go through a middleman, so that’s something I would ask about upfront. When I did get pregnant, I switched to a midwife/birthing center at three months and the difference in care was vast. I could talk to a midwife whenever I wanted. My appointments lasted at least half an hour. They inquired about my diet, exercise, home and work environments, etc. I think when looking for a new provider, it’s important to ask about how they look at pregnancy. Are they going to look at the whole picture and troubleshoot possible problems/solutions or are they going to just throw some pills at you and send you on your way?
    I ended up with an emergent c-section, so didn’t get to experience the midwives in action, which kind of led to another issue I would consider for future pregnancies. Which is, try to find out about any other doctors in the practice or if you go with a midwife, see if you can meet their backup doctor just in case, so you don’t have a stranger delivering your baby. Thankfully, the backup doctor and hospital staff when I had my csection were wonderful and supportive knowing that I was not getting the birth that I had planned, but you never know what could happen, so being prepared can be helpful (for me, at least.)

  9. Not sure if other states would have anything like this, but I live in Virginia and we have Birth Matters which has different chapters for different areas. I always use that to find an OBGYN when I move to different towns around VA. birthmattersva.org

  10. If you really love your OB/GYN who is retiring, why not ask him or her for a referral? Just say that you’ve enjoyed your patient/doctor relationship so much that you’re hoping s/he can recommend someone they think might jive with you in the same way.

    Try out new docs with your regular exams. If you don’t like the way one doc performs a pelvic, try a different one next time. It’s such an intimate relationship, every patient has a right to be comfortable.

  11. It’s been a few years since I’ve had an exam (no insurance, briefly had it, then didn’t again, getting it soon now) and I don’t know if my OB/GYN will be on the list of who is covered, but I really liked my doc. She is very upfront, asked about my general health, if I’m eating meat (I didn’t used to, so she wanted to make sure I got my iron), etc…

    However, I’m concerned that when I eventually get around to having a kid that she’ll think the home birth thing is nuts. I have no reason to think she will, but ugh. I hate confrontation.

  12. My first pregnancy, I just let them assign me an OB/gyno, Dr. D. Big mistake. I started to not like her after the first couple appointments, but kept going anyways. She made me feel like a big fatty, which is awful anyways, but worse when you’re pregnant, and she wasn’t very personable.

    I switched to a different one, Dr. C., for my second pregnancy, based on positive comments from some of my friends who had had her. She was pregnant at the same time as me (about 6 weeks behind), so she knew exactly what I was going through at the time. It helped that she was pregnant too, and I would definitely look for one that has kids, because they understand what you’re going through. It’s one thing to watch people give birth and another to actually do it yourself.

    If you get bad feelings from one, I’d find a different one. As a sidenote, Dr. D. ended up delivering my second baby because she was on call that night. I could have had them call someone different, but I didn’t feel like waiting longer (although I did debate just pushing him out before Dr. D. got there and having the nurses deliver him).

  13. I work at a doctor’s office and one of our residents was starting her own practice as a Family Medicine +OB doctor. We hit it off right away because I loved that she was loud and a little bit weird. Not for everyone, but it works for me.
    I guess I didn’t really ask any questions, I just knew from her statements, when she said things like “No hot tubs while pregnant- you are making a person, not cooking a chicken.”

  14. I’ve had good luck with queer or queer friendly OB/GYNs. They tend to be open minded about things beyond just sexual orientation. You may have to read between the lines, but things like “interest in alternative families” are a good sign, or look on your local pride center’s website or give them a call for recommendations.

    • I knew I was onto a winner with my new women-centred medical practice when the new patient form had questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. My doc there is awesome (I saw another doc there once when my regular GP as on leave, and she was very harsh and judgey, though)

  15. I would start with friends of yours that are like minded. I’m a pretty straight forward, cut the crap, no touchy feely when it comes to stuff like that and so I asked one of my friends that approaches life similarly. We now have the same OB and she is a “tell it like it is” type of person which is exactly what I wanted.

    Yikes. That’s a pretty harsh description of myself up there. I am very considerate and nurturing (I am a teacher) BUT necessarily when someone is all up in my downstairs business.

    You should also envision how you see your pregnancy and delivery going and base your questions on that vision.
    – What type of lifestyle do you encourage your pregnant patients to adhere to for the nine months?
    – What is your viewpoint on birth plans and medical interventions?
    – How would you describe your demeanor during labor and delivery?
    – What do you feel is your greatest asset to your patients, particularly the pregnant ones?
    – Describe your process of dealing with possible infertility in patients.

    I hope this kind of helps. I would go with broad reaching questions that allow the doctor to extrapolate on their philosophy so that you get a better idea of how it fits in line with yours.

    • I just wanted to express solidarity with your need for a cut-the-crap health practitioner! I have a chronic illness, and for some unknown reason touchy feely practitioners really tweak my anxiety. My rheumatologist is very thorough and serious, and I find that reassuring, and I imagine when the time comes to find an OB I’ll look for someone similar.

  16. I know a few people have mentioned this, but a midwife can absolutely deliver your gynecological care. As a midwifery student (doing clinicals in a busy busy practice with 10 CNMs and 6 OBGYNs) I usually see about half OB visits and half gyn visits in a day. I’ve really loved the gyn side of care, i LOVE doing contraceptive counseling, family planning, and well-woman care (I didn’t think I’d care for it as much as the OB stuff but I really do). Good luck in your search!

  17. avoid OBGYN with an aquarium between the office and the exam room instead of a wall or a folding screen ;-): i did not feel comfortable at all with the fishes looking at my intimacy (and what if the secretary comes to the room for a folder or else???) and he hurt me like hell
    You’re looking forward to have children. I am 7 months and an half pregnant and this morning, after a lot of crying and questioning I decided to switch (quite last minute I know). I should have done it earlier but I did not trust my instincts a few weeks ago. So main advice: trust your instincts, especially when trying to conceive or already pregnant. If your OBGYN does not answer your questions (in my case it was about my birth plan) or postpone them for the next consult, be careful. I gave him the benefit of the doubt too many times. The first time, he was 2 hours late, had just announced one cancer and the necessity of a late termination, so I almost felt bad to speak about my needs as I was having an uncomplicated pregnancy (for the baby, not for me, but who cares ;-))… After several consults where I was told that we’ll speak about it next time, but I should take the prenatal classes, which I did, I learnt that the supposedly physiological room didn’t exist anymore, that epidural is best (no offense to all of those who have it, but in my case my back just doesn’t allow it), so I will be able to walk around the bed with the wires of the foetal monitor if I really want to (!), that breastfeeding is for the fools (again, I am all about choice, and supportive of those who chose to bottle-feed, so I like to feel supported in my choice to breastfeed) etc etc… I came home like a mess yesterday after realizing all this and I really beat myself up for not having trusted my instincts.
    An other advice: some years ago, I was so sure I would never have children and I really felt bad when going to a practice full of pictures of newborns on every walls. If you don’t plan to have children, or cannot have them, I think it can be very disturbing. I was just coming for my annual check-up and I had the impression that I was of absolutely no interested for the OBGYN as long as I didn’t plan to get pregnant.
    Good look with your search, everyone deserves a good practitioner!!!

    • worst class ever! πŸ™ i’m so sorry that was your experience. i teach childbirth education classes as well and that makes me so sad to hear. just know that it’s never too late to switch. i case manage for pregnant teens and have had girls switch at 36 week because they didn’t think they were ‘allowed’ to change providers. remember, you hired your provider and can most certainly fire him/her. you need the best fit for you and your family, you need to feel safe, there needs to be a level of trust, and you need to be respected. good for you for making the tough choice to leave. i hope your next provider is a home run.

      also, one way to maybe search out some resources in your area might be to attend a la leche league meeting. they’re held monthly in most areas (more frequently in some) and are breastfeeding support and education for and by breastfeeding mothers – they totally encourage pregnant women to come to meetings. you may meet some like-minded mamas who may point you towards classes they really enjoyed.

  18. I found the most important thing was not what I asked or even all the specific answers I got, but that they were willing to pause and take time to listen, talk and actually answer my questions.

    Also availability was a big issue. My doc went on mat leave early (she was having problems with her own pregnancy) a day before I went in to be induced. I ended up with her husband as my doctor, and he was great but just did not have the time to be around (because he had too many patients and also worked in another town) when I had issues after my c-section.

  19. If you like your gyno, why don’t you ask him/her if s/he can recommend another gyno who provides similar services and bedside manner? Lots of doctors refer patients to one another, so s/he should be able to make a recommendation.

    If you have any friends in the area similarly offbeat as you, you can ask them if they recommend their gynos. That’s how I ended up finding my current awesome gyno, after 3 successively horrific ones I had found on my own.

  20. I am on my mother’s insurance and I started with having her ask around the office. The first doctor she recommended didn’t work for me, he was a little too scientific and matter-of-fact for my taste. After another recommendation, I saw another doctor and I LOVE her. She’s kind, she’s a great listener and she’s totally understanding which is just what I needed. It’s okay to ask around and go to more than one doctor to see who is the right fit for you.

  21. I was really lucky and had two wonderful ob/gyns during my pregnancy. I’m a sex educator, queer, kinky, and an adult performer and it was extremely important for me to have a doctor in which I could speak with very openly about my health and my body during my pregnancy and ways in which I may have to adapt certain elements of my work during periods of my pregnancy. For example I do aerial rope bondage suspension performances. I was able to openly discuss with my doctor at what points during my pregnancy suspension was safe and at what point I needed to stop. I had some very specific questions for my doctors that pertained to my work and based on my doctors very helpful and nonjudgmental response I knew I was in great hands. My doctor was also familiar with my work and supportive of the work that I do – she had mentioned watching me on television with her sister. I also talked with her about natural birth, laboring in the tub,using vibrators during labor, orgasmic birth, bringing in a doula, and the different elements of my birthing and laboring process that were key to me. We were on the same page and I felt really supported in my process. I highly recommend the site – Kink Aware Professionals which is a national resources of queer, trans, poly, and kink aware doctors and professionals. It is super helpful to have someone who is either part of your community or supportive and aware of and allied with your community when going through such a transformative experience. The site is https://www.ncsfreedom.org/resources/kink-aware-professionals-directory/kap-directory-homepage.html

  22. I’m 38 years old & will be trying to have my first baby in the next year. In researching an ObGyn I was looking at their website bio to determine whom had experience with high risk pregnancy, not only my age but medical history put in a risk category. I also chose a hospital with not only its own women’s health building but it’s also literally joined with a prestigious children’s hospital (Chicago Northwestern Hospital). Next I looked at patient reviews.
    I found a doctor that fit my criteria & made an appointment, wait was 2 months, I get to meet her next month. I’m excited for this next step in life.

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