Okay, okay I know it’s early Monday morning, not quite Sunday anymore (on this side of the world at any rate).
So where to begin with today’s little trip down memory lane? Since #YesAllWomen is still trending on Twitter this week, let me take you back to my very first gynecological exam.
I have had ‘woman troubles’ all my life, but as I grew older, these problems became worrisome and much more severe.
I was twenty, suffering from severe anemia (frequent blood loss will do that to ya) and always, always in pain. Back then, our insurance insisted that we had to get a referral from a GP first, and off I went to see my regular family practice doctor, who decided I needed to see XYZ gynecologist that very day. I didn’t get to have a choice in the matter, since this was the only specialist my GP would recommend.
No one told me anything, the doctor didn’t give me any idea of what he thought might have been wrong with me, no one felt the need to prepare me for the physical exam and I was just too shy to ask.
Although there was no one else in the waiting room, they felt it prudent to make me sit there for two hours, while I paged through a magazine and ran all manner of horrific scenarios through my head. Finally, the nurse took me to the back, showed me into a little room and unceremoniously told me to take off all my clothes, put on the robe and wait for the doctor. No other instructions. I did as the nurse told me, then went back into the exam room to wait another 30-odd minutes before the gynea finally graced me with his presence.
In strolled this ancient old man who could barely hold himself up, let alone lift a hand to examine me. He asked me all the standard questions, and replied to my answers with a nod, until we got to the “Are you sexually active?” question.
“Yes,” I answered.
I expected the same nod. This guy worked with vaginas for a living, I was pretty sure nothing I said could have shocked him.
“Oh, you know that’s wrong right?”
“Is it?” I asked. “Why?”
He ignored me and went on to his next question, “How many partners have you had in the last year?”
“Only the one,” I said. “And no one before him,” I said this hurriedly, because I felt like I needed to justify myself. “Only the one sex partner all my life.”
“How old were you when you had intercourse for the first time?”
“Oh much too young. Is this with the same man?”
The gynecologist sighed deeply, as if my sins weighed heavily on his heart. “You know you’re doing everything wrong, don’t you? You are not married, you have no business having sex.”
I thought I needed to explain myself a bit. After all, I had only had one sex partner up until then, and we were in a committed relationship. “I am twenty years old, it’s my–”
“Get on the table,” he interrupted me, and proceeded with an exam so rough and painful, I started crying. “That’s what you get for having sex,” he said when he had finished. “Get dressed.”
Patriarchal as he was, he refused to give me any feedback on my pelvic exam, just informed me he’d send his ‘findings’ to my regular physician.
And thus ended my very first visit to a gynecologist. That experience left a bit of a mark. It wasn’t until I got pregnant with my son (surprisingly by the same man, I was making such a huge mistake with) nine years later that I trusted a doctor enough to do a pelvic exam.
I love men, I really do. I like the way they smell, the way they look, the way they sound – but sometimes, not very often, we come across an asshole who thinks that he was put on this earth to be a woman’s moral compass. Don’t be that man. (There are several other men you shouldn’t be either, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day).