Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You shouldn’t rely on this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
Choosing a gynecologist can feel nearly as scary as choosing a life partner—this is someone who sees you at your most vulnerable, so you want to choose well!
Most women, though, go into the process of choosing a gynecologist blind, with no direction. If you’ve turned to Google with the old “gynecologist near me” query, you know that feeling, and you’ve probably had some less-than-stellar experiences as a result.
Don’t worry, there are much better options for finding the right gynecologist. This article will help you understand some of the important aspects of looking for the best gynecologist for you, so that you’re well equipped to navigate this process.
Get a Referral from Your Primary Care Physician
If you have a PCP, particularly one you like and trust, she may be the best resource for any specialists you need to see, including a gynecologist. Your doctor knows your medical history and particular needs, and has at least a small window into your personality. She can also assess another doctor’s medical acumen more objectively. Plus, if your doctor is part of a larger network of physicians, it’s likely the gynecologist she recommends is within that same system, which can make it simpler for both doctors to share records and results as needed.
Ask Family and Friends
We all know the value of a personal recommendation—that’s why crowdsourcing is so popular! Not everyone is comfortable publicly asking for gynecologist recommendations, though (understandably). Still, asking close friends or family members who live in your area can be one of the best ways to get some personal insight into a particular doctor’s bedside manner, office culture, and trustworthiness. Obviously, each person’s experience may be different, but it’s a good starting point.
Make Sure the Location is Good for You
Once you get some recommendations from your primary care physician and friends or family members, you can start vetting those doctors based on a variety of considerations. For most people, location is the first factor to verify—a friend could recommend the best doctor in the world, but if she’s not conveniently located, that’s likely not a good option for you. Depending on your circumstances, it may be more convenient to find someone near your home or your workplace.
Check Insurance Coverage
You’ll want to make sure to check if the gynecologist accepts your insurance, and what your coverage is for this provider. First, call the number on the back of your insurance card and find out if the doctor is an in-network or out-of-network provider, and what your coverage is for routine OB/Gyn visits, including your co-pay. After verifying coverage with your insurance company, it’s a good idea to call the doctor’s office to confirm.
Look Up Reviews and Credentials
Even with recommendations from your doctor and loved ones, it’s a good idea to look up reviews online, and to find out a bit more about the gynecologist’s credentials. A quick Google search will usually bring up lots of helpful information through sites like ZocDoc, Vitals.com, and Healthgrades.com, including typical office wait times, friendliness of the ancillary staff, and what to expect at your first appointment. If you have a specific condition for which you need treatment, you should be able to find out if this gynecologist specializes in that condition (you can also call the office to ask about that).
At Your First Appointment…
You’ve done all your research, and you’re prepared for your first appointment with a well-vetted gynecologist—congratulations! The story is not quite over, though. All that research doesn’t mean that this gynecologist will definitely be the right practitioner for you. So, at your first appointment, here are some things to pay attention to:
How comfortable do you feel with this doctor?
Do you feel that she listens to any concerns you may have, and works with you to develop a treatment plan as necessary?
Does she explain things to you in a way that you understand, while not being patronizing?
Do you feel like the doctor is spending adequate time with you?
Do you feel confident in her skills and treatment capabilities?
Do you feel like you’re leaving (or have left) the appointment with all of your questions answered?