Because I care about women’s health and wish we could all speak more freely about it, I’m just going to put this stuff out there. If you think vaginas are gross (whether you have one or not), don’t read this and don’t comment. Here are the things I wish any of the GYNs I’ve seen would have said:
Anything more than “HiAshleyhowareyoumynameisDoctorWhateverlet’sgetstarted!”
I’m not in labor and so you don’t have time for me. I guess I get it, but I so want to find one of you who is actually an advocate for women and who makes me feel empowered and takes time to build trust with me.
“Are you comfortable with that option?”
Cuz, real talk, when a former GYN prescribed physical therapy in the form of internal massage for pelvic pain, I cried tears of embarrassment and self-pity on the way home and then ripped up the scrip. I wasn’t comfortable with it and she hadn’t seemed the least bit inclined to ask. I can’t even remember if she told me what the physical therapy consisted of or if she just left the room after handing me the prescription to let me figure it out for myself. Either way, it didn’t seem negotiable.
I also “lost my virginity” to a middle-aged woman and a transvaginal ultrasound wand when I was in high school because the normal ultrasound wasn’t getting a clear enough image in their attempt to diagnose me with polycystic ovarian syndrome. It was… unpleasant.
“I’m not going to lie, this is going to hurt and you might feel a little violated, but it’s the right thing to do for your health.”
Stop telling me it won’t hurt. It makes me feel like something must be wrong with me that it does. Pap smears are like intentionally rubbing your mascara wand all over your open eyeball for several minutes. They hurt. And cervical biopsies? Yeah, why would ripping out chunks of your cervix with no local analgesic or anesthesia cause pain? I don’t want to have these things done to me and I don’t like subjecting myself to the pain, so I often feel a little victimized leaving the GYN. I’m not saying these standard procedures are on par with rape, of course, but they are uncomfortable, sometimes painful, invasive things that I would say no to if I felt like that were a reasonable option.
“Speaking of cervical biopsies…”
If you have abnormal cells show up on a Pap, the doctor may bring you back in for a colposcopy. If the abnormalities are still visible, he/she will probably conduct a biopsy. OF YOUR CERVIX. You know, that thing that aches whenever anything so much as bumps it? To stop the bleeding after ripping out chunks of your cervix, they apply Monsel’s solution, which looks like brown mustard and is actually glorified rust. What my GYN failed to mention was that Monsel’s solution bonds to open wounds and mucous membranes (some of which are external—whaddup, labia!). When exposed to air, the leaking solution will dry and harden on the external mucous membranes and then proceed to itch like a motherf**ker until you realize what’s happened and put lots of effort into carefully removing it. Also, it apparently falls out in a gross lump several days after your procedure which, um, they should definitely mention to pregnant women so they don’t think they’re having miscarriages. (Seriously, the poor women on some of these forums.) Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m hoping when some other woman feels like there are fire ants in her pants at 10:00 at night after a cervical biopsy and starts Googling, she’ll find this instead of all the stupid that clouds the subject currently. It’s not likely an allergic reaction; you don’t have a yeast infection; it is pretty normal; go get in the shower.
“Do you plan on having children?”
With all the confusion out there about whether women are actually screwed fertility-wise by age 35 or if that’s just misinformation thanks to the oft-cited research that’s only slightly more recent than the French Renaissance, and what risks are actually associated with having a baby for the first time in your mid-30s or later, you’d think OB/GYNs would help you cut through the shit. I’m in my mid-20s; I don’t want babies now, but I will. It would be cool to have some real talk with a health professional about how to make sure that’s possible to the best of my ability and what considerations I should make.
“Let’s talk about your sex life.”
I’ve never had a GYN seem even remotely comfortable talking about anything other than disease screenings and contraception/pregnancy. No one has ever asked how many partners I’ve had (diagnostically relevant, I’d think), their gender/sex, asked whether I’m satisfied or have questions about what’s normal or how to improve things, or even really made me feel like they would be willing to talk about these things if I brought them up. These aren’t issues for me at present, thankfully, but that no one’s asking makes me think lots of women are left wondering. I even find myself volunteering that I’ve been with the same partner since my last check-up and that my partner is male because they don’t ask (but I feel like they should!).
Many girls don’t feel comfortable talking to family members about sex (my mom didn’t give me a choice, so I may actually be over-educated) and friends are often ill-informed or at least no more informed; and yet, sexual health professionals don’t seem to care about your sex life unless you’re being abused or have contracted something, babies included. Based on recent data about sex lasting 4 minutes or less on average for many people, there have got to be some women out there wondering why everyone else is having more fun. I can’t find it now, but I read an article last week about how the average man doesn’t last long enough in bed to please the average women. Thank the app and internet gods for letting women know at long last that it’s not them!
What about you, Jumpers? Is there anything else you wish you could talk to you GYN about or do all of you have awesome doctors?