Finding the right healthcare provider can make the difference between feeling supported and cared for or dreading the doctor’s office. And while some of the factors you’ll need to consider apply to your primary care physician and any other medical professional you see, there are a few that are especially important when selecting a gynecologist. Read on to find out what to look for when you’re searching for an OB-GYN, so you can find the doctor who is the perfect match for you.
Does gender matter?
Having a gender preference for your doctor is not uncommon, and the personal nature of gynecological visits might mean you have a stronger gender preference than for, say, your family doctor. If that’s you, make sure to keep that in mind when selecting your OB-GYN.
Do you share similar philosophies on reproductive health?
Unfortunate but true: sometimes, the personal beliefs of your physician can influence the type of care you’ll receive. It’s legal in the U.S. for doctors to refuse to provide service on the basis of their moral beliefs — so that may mean you’ll need to screen doctors to make sure your OB-GYN is willing to prescribe birth control, provide unbiased information regarding abortion or help you access emergency abortion procedures if you need them.
Are the OB-GYN and their staff LGBT+ friendly?
Just as it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page with respective to reproductive health, your doctor should be skilled at treating patients of all sexual orientations and respectful of gender identities. It’s worth a call to make sure the OB-GYN and their support staff understand and use the correct pronouns, and offer a welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable.
Can you build a rapport?
If you’re sensing a theme with these last few points, this one drives it home — it’s important to find a doctor you click with. While you don’t need to feel too buddy-buddy, it is crucial that you feel supported and able to be open and honest with your OB-GYN, and don’t leave the office feeling judged.
Look for a doctor who takes the time to explain relevant medical info, including your health status, diagnosis and treatment options, in a straightforward way that you can understand, and answers your questions until you feel informed and comfortable. Rapport might take an appointment or two to build up — but if you’re not clicking after a few appointments (or you uncover major ideological differences in the first appointment), consider seeing someone else.
Which hospital admitting privileges do they have?
Asking about admitting privileges is crucial, especially if you know you’ll be receiving care there, including during childbirth. Make sure your OB-GYN is affiliated with a hospital where you’ll feel comfortable receiving care and which offers the services you need. Pay attention to convenience, as well, since a trip to the hospital during labor is stressful at the best of times.
Making sure your doctor has admitting privileges may also be important for accessing abortion services, since some states have passed laws requiring that abortion providers have them.
Can they perform an abortion if you need one?
Speaking of abortion access, you may want to ask a prospective doc if they are able to provide abortion services if you need them. Access to abortion services can vary greatly depending where in the country you live, so finding a doctor willing to provide abortion services may be an advantage. Alternatively, ask about the process if your doctor refers out to other providers for abortion services, so you can gauge how easily you can get the care you need.
Do you need an OB-GYN with specialized training?
If you have an underlying reproductive health issue, or a medical issue that affects your pregnancy, you may require an OB-GYN with specialized expertise. Your family doctor or current OB-GYN should be able to refer you to a provider with the expertise you need.
Does your OB-GYN have access to other expertise or resources you need?
Sometimes, all you need is a great OB-GYN — but if you’re looking for additional contacts or support staff, make sure to ask which resources are available to you during your search. An OBGYN with a strong research background and access to a research hospital might be beneficial if you need advanced treatments with new technologies, while an office that provides access to midwives might be helpful for coordinating care during pregnancy.