Gynecologist Asks How He Can Set Up His New Office for Maximum Patient Comfort and the Responses Are Perfect

Gynecology appointments are necessary, but they don't have to be so uncomfortable. Twitter users chimed in with ways to make the experience more inclusive and dignified.

Most people don't liken gynecology or obstetrics visits to leisurely strolls in the park or a night out on the town. For some, such as those who have experienced sexual trauma, they can be downright scary. For others, pap smears and prenatal visits are uncomfortable at best. The doctor's hands (and tools touching your genitals) may be cold and unwanted, the table isn't exactly a cozy bed, and the stirrups are awkward.

But, like going to the dentist, gynecological care is necessary. And honestly, these appointments don't need to be nearly as uncomfortable as they currently feel. For example, if we can figure out a way to have virtual happy hours, can we please figure out how to make the rush to change into a gown feel less like a morning workout?

One doc is hoping to make the experience better for his patients. He took to Twitter to crowdsource advice.

"I have the opportunity to design my office from scratch. I'm asking women: How would you design/optimize a visit to the gynecologist's office?" wrote Ryan Stewart, who goes by @stuboo on Twitter. Stewart is the owner and urogynecologist for Midwest Center for Pelvic Health in Indiana.

He wanted people to share problems and frustrations they've experienced while receiving care and ideas for solutions.

"No detail is too small," he said. "If I've ever had a tweet worthy of virality, it's this one."

The tweet went viral alright, racking up more than 2K retweets and 8K likes.

It's a great idea to get input directly from people who have put their feet in those stirrups and undergone a pap smear. But Twitter users quickly pointed out the importance of inclusive language, as women are not the only people who need gynecological and obstetrics care. Transgender men and nonbinary folks, for example, may also see an OBGYN.

Stewart quickly acknowledged the error.

"Folks have [correctly] pointed out that I [incorrectly] said 'women' when what I should have said was 'folks who may need gynecologic care,'" he wrote. "I'm a #workinprogress. I appreciate your advocacy and the reminders. Everyone is welcome, and I want them to feel welcomed."

And other Twitter users chimed in with ways they'd feel more welcome at an OBGYN appointment. The responses are so spot-on.

"Please have images of Black women in the office. I haven't visited a gynecologist office yet with this type of representation," wrote one user.

One responded with an image of a Black fetus that's been making its way around social media recently—it was the first time some BIPOC individuals saw themselves represented in this way.

People with a history of eating disorders or body shaming may find weight checks particularly triggering. One user recommended making them optional.

"Do not put a scale in a public/visible place. Also, weights should be subject to consent and only done when relevant like any other procedure," replied another.

Wait times and the rush to change into a gown and then back into clothes before someone walks in on you can also be a source of stress. One user's OBGYN had a smart solution.

"I once went to an OBGYN office that had a light switch (reachable from exam table) that lit up outside the door to let [the] provider know I was changed. [It] significantly decreased wait time sitting in gown since no one was guessing if I was ready," the user said.

An image of a medical examination table in a gynecologist office.
Getty Images.

And someone gave advice that feels like it should be common sense.

"Please consider: Not asking the patient if an intern can be in the room in the presence of the intern. it's hard to say no in front of them. [And consider] not changing practitioner between the time of appointment and the actual appointment, expecting the patient to be comfortable with someone else," the person said.

This is all great advice for Dr. Stewart. The bottom line: As a patient, you should feel comfortable asking your doctor anything, including preconception, sexual health, and pregnancy-related questions. Office setup and policies can go a long way in establishing a trusting relationship with patients.

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