Surving A Trip To The Gynecologist

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I suppose once you become pregnant or have birthed a child going to the gynecologist is just like going to the dentist. You schedule the necessary appointment, make sure to brush your teeth before you go in, and then obediently lay down when it's time and just hope that the doctor has warm hands. It is what it is.

But for those of us who haven't yet experienced the miracle of having a team of people stare at your vagina with the same intensity as a dog trying to spot a fish in a lake, while they're all anxiously ready to yell "she's crowning!," a trip to the gyno can be slightly uncomfortable.

That's right, I just said vagina. And I'm going to say it a few more times as we discuss the joys and sorrows of the yearly trip to the lady doctor. We're all adults here. So let's jump on board and have some girl talk!

I dread going to the gyno like I dread going to the post office. I put it off for as long as possible and then as the day gets nearer it hangs over me like a dark cold... metal stirrup you're supposed to put your foot in. But then once it's all said and done and I don't feel completely violated and haven't forgotten my underwear when I leave, it's never usually that bad.

But that's just the post office. A trip to the gyno is another story.

I walked into my appointment 30 minutes early yesterday as the receptionist requested so I could fill out 781 pages of paperwork, and then wait an additional 45 minutes to ensure an ample amount of time to stare at the Georgia O'Keefe drawings on the wall. But I for one love doctor paperwork. I treat it as a nice moment to reflect on all of the deaths of my loved ones and the various diseases that got them.

It's also a good reminder for me that I need to wear my seatbelt. If you ask me, not enough forms in our world ask the question as to whether or not you wear a seatbelt. It's nice to know someone still cares.

When the receptionist suddenly asked me for a urine sample I was caught slightly off guard. Of course I knew it was coming, but it still shocked me. I guess that's probably a good thing. If one day it doesn't surprise me when a stranger randomly hands me a small cup and asks me to urinate in it I'll know I've seen and done everything and it's time to throw in the towel.

However I think it's safe to say that we as humans have this internal shame factor, when even though we're all alone and no one can see us (hopefully) we still can't help but feel humiliated when doing something so unnatural as peeing in a tiny cup. I won't get into too much more detail here, but instead take this time to think about your own experiences in this situation. There's got to be a better system than the current one. It was clearly invented by a man. Without a vagina.

I was then led into another room to sit and wait and stare at more O'Keefe drawings on the wall presumably to get me in the mood. Although these images were slightly different. They were more about what the drawings look like on the inside and when studied under a microscope. They also had words on them like "uterus" and "ovary."

A nurse walked in wearing Precious Moment scrubs and handed me a sheet and a paper thin robe and told me "you know the procedure" and then promptly walked back out. Well that wasn't a precious moment at all I thought. But she was right, I did know what comes next. We all do.

I started to make a fort.

I knew I had to work quickly because it would only be a matter of time before the doctor came back in. I tied one end of the sheet to the stirrups at the bottom and threw the other end over my head and onto the back of the chair. I fastened the thin robe to the outside of the sheet and hung it like a flag so the doctor would know I had claimed this territory as my own and I wasn't just going to surrender it.

When I heard his heavy footsteps walk into the room I held my breath anxious to hear what he had to say.

"I see you've completed the first part of the challenge." He noted.

"I have."

"Well done."

"This isn't my first rodeo."

"Then let's move on."

At this point I'm supposed to "slide clear to the end of the chair" and get ready. This is the part we all hate. It's going to take every bit of my strength as I lie on my back and put my knees to my chest with my feet in the air because what the doctor is about to do isn't pretty. But it must be done.

He's going to climb on my feet and I have to hold him in the air while he balances on his stomach with his arms stretched out beside him. That's why I built the fort, for protection reasons obviously. Some people call this "airplane" but anyone who's ever been to the gyno knows it's actually called a Pap Smear.

It's awkward and unpleasant, but if you close your eyes and try your best to relax and not worry about what he can see from his view, you can do it.

And I did. As the doctor climbed down he complimented me on my form and told me I did well. I let out a sigh of relief knowing the worst part was ever. He left the room and I slowly crawled out from my fort and grabbed a tissue to wipe away the sweat that had formed on my forehead.

On my way out I passed through the waiting room and saw a room full of other anxious women filling out their forms, refusing to make eye contact with each other.

I paused for a moment wondering if I should offer a word of encouragement or advice to them. But I knew better. This is a fight we have to fight on our own. And because we're women, we can do it damn it. We can survive a trip to the gyno.



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35 comments:

  1. why must they all have georgia o'keefe paintings? It's like a requirement. It really is the worst. The metal stirrups give me nightmares and I can't relax. which is what you're supposed to do to make the process go quickly.

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  2. Start getting waxed every month... solves all the insecurities. And I got a female gyno. :)

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  3. Sometimes, when I get all nervous about going there (yep...I've had two children and I still get weird about going), I like to tell myself they could have it worse. I could be a 600 lb woman who hasn't been able to see her vagina for years. So maybe when they see me, I'm like a breath of fresh air. And I am always worried I am going to be judged on how I...groom.

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  4. I just had my visit and was happily informed that new guidelines are out and visits are now every 3 years!!! And it's true that once you have a baby you have nothing to hide... Lol

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  5. I just went for my yearly visit and I don't know what it is, but I don't exactly mind it. Except for the night before it I'm usually sweating bullets about what I should wear and if they'll judge what underwear I carefully fold and place on top of my pile of clothes in the corner. I am THE WEIRDEST!

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  6. It is much easier to deal with if you have some other chronic illness, like Crohn's Disease (which I do). After everything I've been through with that, going to the gyno is like a walk in the park.

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  7. I have my visit in a few months. I had the best doctor for about 10 years until she decided to retire to help with research at a local hospital and I moved. I was so mad. How dare she? Found another good doctor in my new town and they both do the same thing. Ask me life questions while distracting me from the fact they they're touching my boobs and everything else. Still hate that visit though!

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  8. Nothing I hate more than a trip to the gyno. I think what weirds me out the most is that I just don't get why the job is of interest to them! I just want to sit her down and say "tell me your hopes and dreams and why the state of my vagina is one of them.."

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  9. I've now had two babies...and yes, it's less stressful all around. And, when you're preggo, you pee in a cup every visit. So, you get a good technique down. And, get a lady doc. ;)

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  11. I just went myself, and my gyno took the opportunity to say "Oh, yeah. This is a very unremarkable cervix. Very normal, exactly what you want to see in a cervix."

    I wanted to laugh, but I also wanted a gold star at the same time.

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  12. UGH I hate going to the doctor anyway, so the annual female exam is even worse! Could it BE any more awkward and uncomfortable??

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  13. Hahaha, great post, Taylor. Thankfully, it's every 3 years for a smear here in the UK, but every time I go, I just focus on how five minutes of awkwardness and discomfort could save my life :)

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  14. I haven't had one yet and I am dreading the day I have to! Eek! WHY just WHY?!

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  15. Thanks for the laugh today Taylor! After 2 kids, I'm a pro but yet, it's still a little weird. Especially when the nurse assisting my Doctor is my neighbor!

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  16. I had my first trip last year. It wasn't as scary as you make it sound but then again I had a women doctor who I enjoy, and my partner came with me. It would be completely different without all that.

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  17. I hate the exam but LOVE my gyno - she's at Advocate Mesonic. I can give you her info if you're interested! She's the fastest and best, um, examiner I've ever had.

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  18. I always enjoy the forced conversation, then interrupted with "Sorry, this is going to be cold" comment. I have a strange wish to be a "special" ventriloquist just for those visits. Can you imagine the look I would get?
    Texas Jak
    www.novermyhead.com

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  19. Now I'm grateful I'm in the UK for this: no stirrups, no gowns, 3-yearly and almost always a woman

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  20. I just wanted to offer my congratulations on being able to compare the gynaecologist to the dentist without once saying 'open wide'. You are a much better person than me.

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  21. Ugh. Thanks a lot for reminding me I need to make my appointment...

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  22. I've always thought they should offer free pedicures along with the pap smear. Or at least a foot massage.

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  23. haha I have pcos so I see mine more than I would like but seeing as he is my friend ... its all the more awkward. (a little less awkward that my prior gyno who delivered me and considers me like "one of his children).

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  24. This is terrifying! I have never gone and never plan to. Unless someday I get pregnant which would be a complete accident because I want adopt..but anyways..this just grosses me out and appalls me to no end. Cave women didnt have to do this so I wont either! Pfft.

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  25. EEEEEEE my favorite subject! I just went also (which inspired this post: http://alia15.tumblr.com/post/108027141178/thoughts-every-girl-has-when-going-to-the) and after 15 years of going, I don't think I'll EVER be comfortable there. No Georgia O'Keefe paintings in my dr's office though - that's a bit overkill I think. Great post!

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  26. I've been going through the internet just trying to get an idea of what a gynecologist does. Throughout the search I kept getting all of these complicated answers. You made it so much easier to understand, you see we just found out my wife is pregnant and I'm freaking out. I want to make sure that without a doubt she will be okay throughout it and I wanted to know what appointments she now needed to make. http://www.merkouris.net/gynecologist-anchorage-alaska

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  27. I'm a single father and my daughter is about to go in for her first gynocologist visit. To be honest, I had no idea what happened there before I read this. I've heard it's hard the first time you go, so I wanted to learn as much as I could to help my daughter feel at ease. It was great to hear your experience and what got you through the visit. http://www.contemporaryhealthcareforwomen.com/services

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