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Old 25.08.2013, 20:12
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Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

This thread is for women who would like to give some tips about visiting a gynecologist in Switzerland. Because cultures differ throughout the world, an advanced warning about what to expect in regards to modesty, etc., could help prevent awkward situations from occurring.

Thanks for your contributions.

EDIT: Due to the sensitive nature of this subject, please show some respect in your posts. Thanks.

Last edited by olygirl; 25.08.2013 at 20:43.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:23
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

- Gynecologists here can be male or female. Because many women prefer female doctors, finding one available for new patients can be difficult.

- There's not a lot of modesty here. Male and female doctors will not necessarily use a curtain or give you any gowns to cover up. You will be asked to strip what is necessary, lay in the chair and the exam will begin.

- Many doctors do not warm up their instruments so be prepared.

- In cases of emergency, your personal preferences may be ignored and you will be subject to the doctor available. These are the moments when you need to ignore your desire for modesty and realize the examination is for your benefit only.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:25
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

LOL, hmmm very useful for gynecology (edit, that was in response to a post which has now been deleted).


BTW, here where I live, GPs never do smear tests, and will automatically send you to a gynecologist- or expect you to make an appointment direct. Is that the case all over Switzerland? One person on EF told me their GP does smear tests (and of course in the UK it is mostly done by the practice nurse).

Last edited by Odile; 25.08.2013 at 20:43.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:37
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

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BTW, here where I live, GPs never do smear tests, and will automatically send you to a gynecologist- or expect you to make an appointment direct. Is that the case all over Switzerland? One person on EF told me their GP does smear tests (and of course in the UK it is mostly done by the practice nurse).
Here in the German part of Switzerland, some family doctors / GPs perform the smear test and some don't. You need to ask your GP directly about the possibility of doing a smear test.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:37
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

Here's my experience as an American woman who moved to CH:

Big difference no. 1: There are no gowns given, not even the terrible little paper gowns that don't cover much of anything. Also, there's no blanket to put over your lap. The first time, I was asked to remove my clothing, which I did, right in front of the (horrified) doctor . I didn't notice the little corner with the curtain. Apparently, if there's a curtain or screen, you're supposed to go over there, drop your drawers, and then parade back to the exam table.

Big difference no. 2: First exam when pregnant involves a transvaginal exam. For those who come from the US, you'll remember this from abortion debates. For those who weren't following, it involves a condom put over the ultrasound probe. I actually asked, "IS THAT A CONDOM?!" This is as uncomfortable as you may imagine.

Big difference no. 3: Doctors, in my experience, are more...uh...direct. I've never had the speculum warmed up here, and they don't really tell you what they're doing in the slow, gentle way they do in the US. It seems pretty invasive, and I moved here when I was 32, so I'd been to many gyn exams before. If you're worried, tell them that you're nervous and you want to be informed of every move they make-don't assume they'll take it slow.

Ladies who need birth control refills immediately: Go to a pharmacy and explain that you're in an emergency situation-you're running out of pills and your doctor's appointment isn't until next week. Most pharmacies will give you one month's extension, even without a prescription.

Ladies who need the morning after pill: You can ask your gynecologist for a prescription (some carry it in their offices-mine does) before you need it. It's a good idea to have one stashed in your medicine cabinet, just in case.

Ladies who are pregnant (wanted pregnancy): It's pretty normal to wait and see your OB until you've missed 2 periods. If you're not already on prenatal vitamins, get them asap from your local pharmacy or drug store.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:39
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

My GP here did my smear, but he used to practice gynacology and even so expressed that a gynocologist should do it.
In my case the smear was also accompanied by an ultrasound (as I am thin he said that an external was possible, but it might be internal if you are not) also he asked about breast exams, as I self exam regulary he agreed that it wasn't necessary. He offered a HPV test too, which I took as they do not do that on the NHS. All in all it was the most thorough exam I had ever had.... And I've been pregnant!
Note:- as I have heard elsewhere, the chair for my clothes and the examination bed were on opposite sides of the room. My legs were pointed towards the door, and the nurse came and went. But this is normal as here they do not think of having a smear being in anyway sexual but just another medical exam.
My doctor did warm the instruments. And I think that the ultrasound and HPV are only for the first time, not everytime.
In the UK smears are every 3 years, and just a smear.
How often is the exam here?
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:40
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

GPs can give you birth control pills and the morning after pill as well if they have them on stock.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:42
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

Also in regards to breast exams:

I find that the doctors here are pretty perfunctory with these compared to the US, and the doctors I've had are perfectly comfortable staring at my breasts while they do the exam (unlike American doctors, which in my experience respectfully look toward the corner of the room).
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:46
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

As Swissintraining pointed out, there are no gowns given.
Tip: wear a skirt. You can drop your knickers behind the curtain and walk to the examining chair looking all dressed up.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:48
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

can we please add a tmi warning for men in the thread?
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:52
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

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can we please add a tmi warning for men in the thread?
I've already made a deletion and moved the entire thread to Family Matters/Health.
It should go without saying that trolling in this section is strictly forbidden.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:54
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

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can we please add a tmi warning for men in the thread?
Personally, I find the information immensely valuable for women AND men.
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Old 25.08.2013, 20:59
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

The only comment I have to offer is that it is a world of (better) difference to the UK. Service, professionalism, comfort and speed of appointments/results, not to mention frequency - every 12 months instead of the recommended 3 years in the UK.

OK, so it may not have any of the frou-frou of the US appointments (gowns, blankets, toasty warm instruments and someone to explain every move) but at least you know that you are getting a reliable health check which can save your life.

I'm glad they are direct, to be honest. There's nothing worse that your gynae having a chat about where you are going on holiday and whether I've tried the new restaurant while I'm lying there with a load of metal sticking out of my nether regions.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:00
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

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In the UK smears are every 3 years, and just a smear.
How often is the exam here?
I get one every year, but I don't know if that's standard practice. There is a lot of cancer in my family, so I try to be careful.

I seem to remember I got tested every two years in the UK, but I could be wrong.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:01
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

I've had two gynecologists in Switzerland, both female, both excellent, both in Bern. I switched when diagnosed with breast cancer because my first gyn was not experienced with breast surgery. A big difference here vs the US is that most breast care including non cosmetic surgery is handled by gynecologists. Mine sees me every 3 months for a check, including a breast ultrasound at least twice a year. We discuss my mammogram and other imaging as needed. One of these visits includes a yearly gyn exam. At this yearly exam, she does a pelvic exam, as well as a pap smear. She also does a transvaginal ultrasound to check out the ovaries, endometrium and rest of the bits there.

Both gyn have been sensitive to the disrobing. You undress one half at a time, put it back on before taking off the other half. Rather than a table with stirrups, there's a funky chair with foot holders, much more comfortable. Both gyn spend time before and after the exam to address questions. But there aren't gowns.

In the US, i had a whole slew of gyn - some male, some female, including one who encouraged me at age 46, to consider having a child. (She brought it up, not me.... I was thinking about tubal ligation). They love those high risk older moms. No thanks. I don't think they were any better or more concerned for my dignity than the ones i have here. I also encountered more rude office staff in the US than here.

The last few years I lived in the US, my internist did my pelvic and pap smear. It is more common for internists or family practice docs to do it in the US than here. I was initally very concerned about having a gyn do breast surgery here, but she was excellent - she did a fellowship in breast imaging and knows her stuff.

I guess because I'm older and given my experience, the breast issues are more critical than the gyn, so perhaps i don't notice them. When you're used to cold ultrasound gel, a cold speculum doesn't much matter.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:02
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

My GP is female. She goes smear and gynaecological tests. She also does pregnancy ultrasounds etc. So you don't always have to go to a Gyne.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:02
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

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Personally, I find the information immensely valuable for women AND men.
Indeed. First time I went in I got a bit confused about getting my feet in the metal stirrups. My husband proudly corrected me and explained he'd seen it on tv.

I second the suggestion about wearing a skirt as you can just pull it up.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:07
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

I've also noticed that here they don't send you reminders for your annual visit - so if you're not good at keeping track you should put an annual calendar reminder in your phone.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:09
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

For the older women:

Don't be surprised when you get the 'thank you and goodbye' letter - some gynecologists (note: gyne, not OB) limit their practices to women of childbearing age.

You then need to start searching for a gyne who accepts 'geriatric' ( ) new patients. If you are happy with your gynecologist, do ask if you will be able to continue with him/her as you age.

Also - the standard is baseline mammogram at 50, not 40 as in the US. If you are in a higher risk group you really do need to push hard to be referred for routine mammograms earlier.
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Old 25.08.2013, 21:20
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Re: Gynecological Exams in Switzerland: What to expect

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For the older women:

Don't be surprised when you get the 'thank you and goodbye' letter - some gynecologists (note: gyne, not OB) limit their practices to women of childbearing age.

You then need to start searching for a gyne who accepts 'geriatric' ( ) new patients. If you are happy with your gynecologist, do ask if you will be able to continue with him/her as you age.

Also - the standard is baseline mammogram at 50, not 40 as in the US. If you are in a higher risk group you really do need to push hard to be referred for routine mammograms earlier.
Although 40 as baseline is becoming controversial in the US too. If you have a family history or other risk factors they are pretty good. But it's a good point. I was used to having them yearly and here they are every other year after 50. Though once my gyn realized i was close to the age my mother was at diagnosis, she recommended yearly.
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