Just put your feet up for the gyno

Knowing the facts about gynecology and what happens during a pelvic exam could help women feel more comfortable during their first visit.

Elayne Jacoby, nurse practitioner at the student health center, answered questions about gynecology during her lecture, “Demystifying the GYN Exam,” at the brown bag luncheon series, sponsored by the Women’s Center.

Jacoby went through the step-by-step process about what a woman can expect during her first pelvic exam and pap test. Jacoby gave the facts, showed all the instruments used, what they are used for and where they go, to the all-female audience yesterday.

“The more information you have and the more you understand, the more comfortable you are going to be,” Jacoby said.

Brittany McDonald, freshman, said having the knowledge beforehand would be beneficial for women going through their first exam.

“Being informed about what they do, I think women would feel more comfortable,” McDonald said.

Jacoby said she hoped her presentation would help women, especially those who have never had a pelvic exam or pap test, feel more comfortable when the time comes.

Jen Cradlebaugh, freshman, said knowing what happens would probably help women through their first exam.

“It is a lot more helpful to know about what she’s doing and how the whole procedure goes,” Cradlebaugh said. Jacoby’s knowledge and experience with women’s health seemed to gauge the same response from audience member- that knowing about the procedure would make the first exam easier.

“I am a true advocate for women’s health care. I really feel that women need to be empowered to be able to take care of themselves,” Jacoby said. “The way to become empowered is to have knowledge, and this is one of the ways to obtain knowledge.”

Jacoby assured that only qualified female nurse practitioners do this examination at the Student Health Center. The nurse practitioners are very sensitive about the fears and concerns women may have during an exam, whether or not it is the first time they have had the exam.

Being honest about medical history, sexual history and family history is important for the nurse practitioners to know and Jacoby emphasizes that they do not pass any kind of judgment about any questions or answers you have.

Cradlebaugh has used student health services and said the nurse practitioners have made her feel more comfortable then doctor’s.

“They’re more personal and you can relate to them better then a doctor,” Cradlebaugh said.

McDonald’s said the nurse practitioners seems to be very helpful which makes going to the Health Center easier.

“There’s so much that they do- anything that you need, they’re there,” McDonald said.

As a registered nurse, with certification in adult health, Jacoby has over 20 years of experience as a nurse practitioner, but reminds the audience she goes through the same experience, being a woman.

“Remember, I’m on the table myself every year, so I know what it feels like,” Jacoby said.

Aside from explaining the details of the exams, Jacoby gave the new recommendation for when women should get their first exams. While it used to be once a year from the time women turn 18 or after the first sexual intercourse, it is now recommended to go three years after first intercourse or at the age of 21.

While this is only the recommendation, women should know it’s perfectly OK to go anytime before that.

The importance of having a yearly exam, especially for sexually active women, is to monitor any changes that may occur with sexually transmitted infections or even just vaginal infections. Sexually transmitted disease such as the high-risk HPV can cause abnormal cells on the cervix and should be monitored or treated.

The exam isn’t necessarily focused on reproductive health, as Jacoby said they check the skin, ears, thyroid, lungs, glands and other body parts, to make sure nothing seems abnormal.