When I went to the gynecologist for the first time, I had all the questions: "You mean someone is going to be looking down there?" "Wait, I have to get completely naked?" "You want me to put my feet in those... things?" "WHAT IS THAT METAL THING AND WHY ARE YOU COMING AT ME WITH IT!?"

My mom thankfully accompanied me for that first time (and a few times afterward), helped me fill out all the paper work, and made sure I had a female gynecologist so I would feel more comfortable. Now, after going routinely for the last several years, I can honestly say I dread going to the dentist way more. 

But everyone's first time can be scary — especially when you don't really know what to expect — which is why I reached out to our very own Spoon University community to find out what college women wish they knew before going to the gynecologist for the first time.

"That it's totally okay to request a female gynocologist if having a male gynocologist makes you uncomfortable. That you don't need to be having sex to see one. That there are many reasons to keep a yearly appointment like to check in on birth control concerns, to get a breast exam and to make sure you are tested for yeast infections and UTI's."

"I also wish there wasn't such a stigma around going. It should be a normal part of keeping your body healthy and having questions answered that you may not feel comfortable discussing with your friends or family."

– Student at Florida State University

"I wish I knew that when they said "get changed" that meant take literally everything off... as in get naked. It's always tricky to know if you're supposed to take your underwear off or not the first time."

– Previous Student at UIUC

"I wish people had been more realistic about Pap smears. Everyone told me it was basically a non-event but let me tell you, I felt it. It was scratchy and weird. Also, no one told me it would make me crave bagels & schmear."

 Previous Student at NYU & Columbia

"I wish I knew telling them you have an incredibly irregular period is good so they can help stabilize your cycle. I also wish I had known that they're supposed to measure your uterus before they put in an IUD."

– Student at Virginia Tech

"Make sure that you feel comfortable with them, more so than with your other doctors. If you don't feel comfortable, try to find a new one until you find someone who works with you and for you. PAP smears will always suck, but the best doctors can still make you laugh at your first one — even when both of you are sick and want to be elsewhere."

– Student at UC Berkeley

"I wish I knew there were alternatives to the pill. I was young enough during my first visit that I hadn't been educated on alternatives to solving hormonal issues and ovarian cysts. At 13, you likely don't know a lot about your hormones and reproduction system. I ended up on the pill and my health got worse the entire time I was on it. It wasn't right for me, but my gynecologist assured me this was my only option. When I found alternative methods to heal on my own later on, I was a little salty I suffered for that long under the guise it was my only option."

– Student at Boston University

"I wish I knew how clinical/casual it would be. I was 15 or 16 the first time I went, and I cried after haha. I didn't know how invasive it would feel, and I didn't know that I would feel so upset by the casualty of the invasiveness, if that makes sense. It probably was more upsetting for me because I wasn't sexually active at that time, so it was a whole new territory!"

"Now that I'm older and I've been several times, it's become more routine. It's still a little uncomfortable just because I'm not the kind of person who can bare it all in front of whoever, but I'm more familiar with my doctor now so that helps a lot. I think it also helps when you've gained some sexual experience because it doesn't feel as intrusive as before. I still don't particularly like going (who does tbh), but it's a lot less scary and nerve wracking now!"

– Student at Indiana University

Whether you're going to the gynecologist for the first time, or for the hundredth time, remember to be honest and ask all the questions. And when they tell you to "derobe," they really do mean take all your clothes off (and take a second to admire yourself in the full-length mirror because why not). 

Thank you to every student who participated in the making of this article and thank you to every woman everywhere breaking the stigma around women's health. Stay educated, and above all, stay safe.