If you are a woman looking for an OBGYN, it may be because you are in need of routine care such as a Pap test, or you want to learn more about birth control options. Perhaps you are pregnant or are having difficulty conceiving. Whatever the reason, choosing the right doctor for your care is a big decision.
"Finding the right OBGYN is important," says Dr. Amy French, a board-certified OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. "Women often hope to have a relationship with their OBGYN for many years, and during that time, many changes will take place. Some sensitive issues may come up and you want to feel comfortable discussing them," she says.
That means selecting an OBGYN you can trust at every age and stage, from childbirth to menopause and beyond. While having a baby is a life-changing event, other significant conditions may occur during a woman's lifetime — infertility, STDs, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, hysterectomy, incontinence or even gynecologic cancer.
Besides asking a trusted friend or relative, Dr. French suggests considering the following criteria to help you find "doctor right."
Where is their office located? Is it easy to get appointments? If you're pregnant, take note: you'll be seeing this doctor frequently for at least nine months. Ideally, you want to be close to home. Be aware that scheduling appointments for routine care, especially with a good and popular doctor, might take a few months.
Even if you love your OBGYN, they may not deliver at your preferred hospital. Ask where they're affiliated, then research hospital policies and specialties to make sure it's a match for your expectations.
How they handle urgent medical situations
How available is the doctor when a problem comes up? Make sure there's a triage phone line for issues that cannot wait. Being able to talk with someone quickly in an urgent medical event is important. Urgent obstetric concerns should be seen same day, or a minimum of three days, depending on the situation.
Listening skills and bedside manner
Bedside manner is very important, says Dr. French. Different personalities work best with different people; find someone with whom you feel comfortable. Personality doesn't replace surgical skill or knowledge of a specific condition, but patients should feel that all their concerns are heard and that their doctor has their best interests at heart.
Special areas of interest
If you're expecting and know you have a specific medical condition that can complicate pregnancy, find someone who specializes in that area. For instance, if you're pregnant and have diabetes, or you have needs requiring minimally invasive surgery, hormone replacement or a holistic approach, research those doctors.
"Before you decide, it is reasonable to interview or talk with an OBGYN before a major medical life event, like pregnancy or surgery, and if time and insurance allows," she says.
"I'm always happy to meet patients for pre-conceptual counseling. Women should also feel free to ask for a second opinion or a different recommendation from their primary care doctor if they don't feel comfortable with their OBGYN. It's all about what makes you comfortable."