There's virtually nothing comforting about the inside of a gynecologist's examination room.
It's sterile. It's white. It's cold.
You're wearing a flimsy gown and, wait, did the doc say that thing should be open in the front? Or in the back? GAH, THIS IS THE WORST.
It's totally natural to be nervous at the gyno. I mean really, what's more vulnerable than sitting under harsh and overexposed fluorescent lights while you spread your legs for someone you hardly know?
But, in order for you to live up to your full potential as the totally kickass girl boss you are, you have to make sure you're as healthy as can be, and that definitely includes your lady parts.
Here are 10 ways to calm yourself down the next time you find yourself stuck in the stirrups.
1. Ask your doctor to talk you through every step.
A huge part of your anxiety might be attributed to a general feeling of the unknown. You know you can trust your gyno, but you still don't exactly know what they're prodding and poking at down there.
Any decent gynecologist won't mind at all if you ask them to elaborate on everything they're doing, especially if they know it'll help you feel more at ease.
2. Or, on the flip side, chat up your gyno about literally anything else.
Maybe knowing exactly what the doc is up to down in V-town isn't ideal for you, and perhaps it only exacerbates your anxiety.
If that's the case, engage in some light small talk with your gyno, kind of like you would with your hairdresser.
Talk about the weather, upcoming vacations, what you do for work -- whatever will take your mind off of the dreaded speculum.
3. Remind yourself to breathe, because you're probably forgetting to.
Sometimes, when your nerves get particularly overwhelming, you kind of just forget you're a human being who requires oxygen to function.
Take deep, indulgent breaths in through your nose, and breathe out slowly and steadily through your mouth. If you can manage to focus on this throughout the whole exam, it'll be over before you know it.
4. Listen to music.
There's no shame in bringing a pair of headphones to the gyno if it'll help you relax a little.
Or, if you feel weird shutting your doctor out like that, simply ask if you can play the music aloud on your phone. There's no reason why you can't, right? And maybe the two of you will actually bond over the music you like.
5. Don't talk at all, and instead, immerse yourself in something to read.
Whether it's a book you can't put down, a fascinating article you haven't gotten around to reading, or even just your never-ending Twitter feed, any distraction can help.
6. Avoid caffeine before your appointment.
Caffeine will only make you more jittery and nervous, and if your knees are already prone to quivering from the sheer fear of exposing yourself to the gyno, the last thing you need is to add fuel to the fire.
Replace your usual caffeine fix with some chamomile or green tea, or anything decaf.
7. Read the entirety of an obscure informational poster on the wall about women's health.
... And focus on that sucker until your eyes start to burn.
If you're sitting inside an exam room of a gynecologist's office, I'm willing to bet there's at least one sort of obscure, but highly informative poster about vaginas, STDs, the anatomy of your boobs, the Gardasil shot, or almost anything else you can think of related to women's health.
Study that thing as if you'll be tested on it. You'll be distracted, and you'll learn something new in the process.
8. Plan ahead by scheduling something really fun for immediately after the appointment.
Not only do you deserve to treat yourself after a stressful experience, but you'll have something else to think about (and look forward to), other than how weird it is for someone to poke at your cervix like they're ringing a doorbell.
9. Come prepared with mints or other types of hard candies.
Treat yo'self with a tasty candy to suck on while your gyno gets to third base with you.
I'm personally all about mints, because the flavor is intense enough to distract me from an uncomfortable situation like this, and who can say no to fresh breath?
10. Think about how much worse it would be if you were giving birth right now.
OK, hear me out. I promise I'm throwing no shade whatsoever at parenthood, or the idea of having babies, or any of that.
But I think we can all agree giving birth looks and sounds painful AF. Just put it in perspective, you know?
Overall, you should be proud of yourself for making it to the gyno and surviving all the awkwardness and anxiety that go into it.
Being the best version of yourself is definitely no easy feat, but it's worth the hustle.