Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My first gynecological exam

wasn't nearly as weird/scary/uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I found it somewhat patronizing to have her sit there and explain the virtues of condom usage and how various STDs can be spread, but that is information that a lot of people do need, so I won't complain too hard about it. She talked to me about the HPV vaccine and it sounds like something I should look into in the future (if my insurance covers it), so that was helpful. I didn't have a problem talking about my sex life--this is something I do regularly--but it was weird having all of the actual clinical terms injected into that conversation. 

Actual conversational excerpts:

Her: You're currently sexually active?
Me: Yes. I'm not in a relationship, but I'm sexually active.
Her: Okay. When was the most recent time you had intercourse?
Me (with zero hesitation): The 13th.
Her: Wow, you knew that right away.
Me: Well...I was celebrating having turned my thesis in...


Her: The penises that have been inside you are way bigger than my speculum.

So as she pulled the curtain for me to get undressed, I distinctly recall thinking that as a person who has streaked a semi-public place twice, I really didn't need this privacy to get naked, lol. She taught me how to do a breast exam and that it's important to start now so I get to know "my normal" and anything that recognizes multiple normalities is cool with me. We talked about methods of hair removal, and it was nice to talk about those things with an actual doctor. The stirrups had a fabric covering, so they weren't cold, and the speculum was plastic so it was also around room temperature--no "Nazi steel stirrups" and/or "cold metal ducklips" as The Vagina Monologues had me worried about. (Yay progress?) I actually found most of the experience of the exam itself to be vaguely pleasant, if anything. The pap smear swab tickled--I wanted to laugh. She's not the first person to open it up and look at it, either, which might have also contributed to how not weird it was--I've had that experience (again a la VagMos) with a guy before. Everything was fine and kind of nice except the part where she had to push on my stomach to feel my ovaries. That kind of hurt, but it was still kind of cool that she could feel them being physically present in my body. I like it when things I can barely conceptualize become more concrete and extant in the world.

The part I'm most disappointed/annoyed by is that my insurance company is being stupid and I have to go drop my pap smear results off at this lab like two miles from campus, which means bumming an awkward ride or calling a cab or riding my friend's bike, none of which sounds like fun. Sigh.

Anyway, to anyone else like me who has been avoiding it because people say it hurts or it's awkward/uncomfortable: I felt silly having avoided it for so long because none of the actual exam was a big deal at all. It took a matter of minutes. So go forth and be safe.

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