It used to be that women were warned against visiting their gynecologist during their monthly menstrual cycle, but a lot has changed over the years, and now we’re encouraged to keep our gyno appointments even if Aunt Flo arrives unexpectedly.
“No one should cancel their gynecologist appointment because of their period,” says Nancy McBride, MD, a gynecologist and clinical assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. “In older forms of pap testing, nearly 25 percent of patients wouldn’t get accurate pap smear results because it was affected by blood, and patients would have to undergo testing again, but that’s no longer the case.” (Here’s what to do if you do get abnormal pap test results.)
For women who are extra crampy and cranky during their time of the month or are just really disturbed by the idea, it’s okay to cancel in those cases, Dr. McBride says. But in some instances, having your period during your visit can actually be helpful for diagnosing period-related issues. If any of your symptoms are new or worsening—you’re bleeding very heavily all of a sudden, for example, or your period is lasting more than 30 days—it could be beneficial to visit your gynecologist while they are occurring.
What’s more, women who are interested in an intrauterine device (IUD) may be advised by their gynecologist to schedule a visit during their period, as the cervix is more naturally open, making the insertion procedure easier.
If you’re feeling squeamish or embarrassed about your flow, Dr. McBride advises patients that “gynecologists have seen it all, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”