Monday, April 12, 2010

Just for the ladies

I thought for a long time about writing this post, and after talking to so many women who were shocked, embarrassed, and not prepared, I figured what the heck. So this is my warning to you that this post may comes with a big TMI alert, ie Dad and brothers may want to stop here :)

One of the biggest shocks for expat women in Germany is the gynecological exams.

Remember the good old days with these bad boys?

Yeah well those are a thing of the past so prepare yourself for one of these.

Once you get past the shock of the exam tables there are a few other things you should know.

Curtains and sheets to cover yourself?
Nope, nudity is the norm here and things are not set up in the most modest of ways. So be prepared to be nude from the waist down openly.

Dressing rooms or curtains?
I have never seen them. The doctors often do not leave the room. They tend to just say ok, get undressed and meet me at the chair.

These do tend to be the same as in the US and are done once a year. This is covered by insurance. 

This is also a standard part of the yearly checks here. But do note, they do use the invasive wands. This is done instead of the American hand checks. 
It was brought to my attention that this is not always covered by insurance and can cost up to 50 euro, so please make sure you ask. :)

Are all costs covered under insurance?
Most but not all. Special testing may be covered at your own expense never hesitate to ask your doctor is the test they are preforming are covered under standard health care plans. 

Making an appointment
1. You will need an uberweisen (referral) from your GP. If you skip this route you will have to pay a copay. You only need this once a quarter, not for every visit. 
2. Expect long waits. Some places have 6 months waiting times. So try to always schedule your next visit when you leave. 

Family history
Be prepared with your family history, but don't expect one of those info sheets to fill out. Many doctors will just ask you themselves in the first appointment and then add it into the computer system

Doctors offices. 
I have seen two layouts. 1. The exam room with a room of to the side with a desk and chair for the conversation part, or 2. Combined into one room.
Sometimes they will do one part of the exam and then send you back out into the waiting room, before calling you back again. 

Breast exams
They do this by hand generally while you are standing, first with arms to the side, then above the head

Birth control
It is not covered by health care and must be paid out of pocket. Prescriptions can be obtained through your gynecologist. Price varies per brand and method. 

While many doctors speak English, or at least understand it pretty well, you should prepare yourself for the fact that not all do.

Here are some key words to get you started
* Note I am using a american keyboard so any vowel followed by an e is an umlaut :)

Frauenarzt or Gynaekologe= Gynecologist

die Fortpflanzungsorgane = reproductive organs
der Eileiter = fallopian tube
der Eierstock = ovary
die Gebaermutter = uterus
der Gebaermutterhals = cervix
die Scheide = vagina
die Blase = bladder
die Harnroehre = urethra 
die Schamlippen = labia

steril = infertile
die Menstruation = menstruation
das Hormon = hormone
der eisprung = ovulation
der Geschlechtsverkehr = intercourse
die Geschlechtskrankheit = std
schwanger = pregnant

das Pessar = cervical cap
das Diaphragma = diaphragm
das Kondom = condom
die Spirale = IUD
die Pille or Antibabypille = birth control pills

Well I hope that gives you a little info about what to expect at your first doctors visit :)


Sonya said...

It's the same here in The Netherlands. I couldnt believe it when I walked into the room and there was an exam table and then there was a small open computer desk next to it. I had to go in for my ankle being swollen so I didnt have to get naked thank goodness. I also took my husband with me because she didnt understand everything I said.
The awesome part was that when we were done, we sat down at the computer area and she typed in my prescription and when I walked next door to the pharmacy it was already waiting for me.No co-pays no nuthin.

I had to go to the hopsital for an x-ray on my ankle and I got really There is about 10 doors and you walk into one and they shut the door. It reminded me of a peepshow because there was a door infront of me. The room was super small and then I heard"Come out Please" I walked out and there was the X-ray room with all the doors..Thank god I only had to roll my pant leg up because there were no robes or anything for u would walk straight out naked infront of atleast 2 people. I told Edwin I'm not going in until something is falling off and even then I'll decided if I can live without

What I cant stand is if I need anything done like blood work they send u straight to the hospital. I miss the american offices where they can pretty much take care of almost everything within that building.

Pussyfoots said...

Well, this was very explicit and very accurate. I wish I had had something like this to read before my first gyn visit. Other ex-pats can be thankful for your openness and dictionary of terms. That is the hardest thing about every new situation, learning the exact vocab. Luckily for me my dr speaks excellent English. Thanx for posting on this delicate subject. Well done.

Juli said...

Very informative! I know also when my girlfriends in France have had babies they do the labour naked-no sheet or anything anywhere. Gah.

May said...

An interesting post!!! I know now what to expect, if i ever have to visit a gyn....;-)


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