05 12 / 2013
How to Prepare:
- Use a condom if you have penis in vagina intercourse 24 hours before your appointment.
- Schedule it so it’s NOT while you’re on your period.
- Do not use a douche 24 hours prior to your appointment. (Do not use a douche at all! Douches are counteractive to vaginal health. You have very good bacteria maintaining a “habitat” of sorts and keeping you healthy! You don’t want to flush them out.)
- Write down any concerns or questions to take along with you. Have the dates of your last period handy. (If in doubt or unknown then just estimate.)
- Don’t feel concerned about “how to shave” or trim your pubic hair. Remember, this person is a medical professional and they’ve seen it all. You do what you usually do. Shower. At most check your labia for excess smegma. But other than that, don’t fret over the appearance of your vulva or vagina.
Before the Exam:
- You will fill out a general medical chart. It will ask for your menarche as well as your contraceptive history. It’s okay if you’re not sure or if you have a “complicated” answer. Just fill it out as accurately as possible. The doctor will have this in hand when they meet you so you will be able to explain anything.
- You may have your blood pressure and heart/lungs checked (your vitals.) If you feel you may be pregnant or are pregnant they will want a urine test.
- You might be given a gown if your exam includes a breast examination. OR you will be given a paper sheet to cover yourself so you can undress from the waist down. (The doctor will give you a few minutes of privacy to do this. They usually knock before entering the room to alert you that they’re coming in.)
- Sometimes a gyno will give you a breast exam. It’s pretty boring. They press around your breast and armpit area while looking very medical and thoughtful. It’s all pretty anticlimactic and silly feeling.
- They will also talk about your chart/medical history and ask you a few questions about contraceptives, sexual history, reproductive history, and general health.
- For the actual internal exam and pap smear you will be asked to lay back on the medical chair and put your feet into “stirrups” which are just plastic stirrups (just like on a saddle) to rest your heels in. Your lap is kept covered. Sometimes a lamp is used for the doctor to see better. They will inspect your vulva (the outside area) first.
- Most doctors will verbally alert you to what they are doing before they do it. If you feel more comfy with them narrating everything happening then you should say so. They are there to serve you medically and most doctors want you feeling as comfortable as possible. (I, personally, always request that they talk about what they are going to do before and AS they do it.)
- Latex gloves will be used as well as a gel for lubrication and comfort.
- For the internal exam they will insert a finger into your vagina. They will generally sweep down your vulva from the vaginal opening before inserting their finger. Then they will insert their finger. They are checking your cervix. They will press down on your lower abdomen.
- For the pap smear they will use a speculum. It is inserted into the vagina and opened up to give a view of the vaginal walls and cervix.
- Then they will use a Q-Tip, small stick, or cervical brush (sometimes looks sorta like a soft, bushy mascara brush) to swab your vaginal walls and cervix and gather cells.
- You will discuss any concerns and/or questions.
- You will schedule your next exam. At the age of 18 you should have an exam yearly.
- If you are sexually active (even with a single partner in a monogamous relationship) you should have a yearly exam.
- Do not hesitate to bring up worries or concerns to your doctor.
- Always ask every question you have, even if you feel silly. It’s VERY important you feel comfortable doing this with your medical provider.
- Don’t feel shy about asking questions. This is what they are there for.
Remember that if you don’t feel okay with your gynecologist then you should switch to another. MANY General Providers (regular doctors) will do pap smears and yearly exams. Take advantage of this if your usual doctor is someone you feel comfy and happy with.
NEVER let a gyno patronize you or make you feel like your needs or questions are “stupid” or silly or out of line.
NEVER feel like asking a doctor to verbally communicate what is going to happen as it happens is ridiculous. This is YOUR body. Always say if something hurts or feels weird.
A pap smear will feel uncomfortable, probably. If you feel pain though, you should SAY SO. Never hesitate to tell your doctor that something hurts or is concerning.
Do not ever feel like you cannot ask a doctor or clinician to stop.
If you feel confused or unsure then ASK QUESTIONS. Remember: Embarrassing situations are okay. Patronizing behavior is not.
You want your doctor and their office to be understanding, empathetic, and caring.
Planned Parenthood is a wonderful place to start for Well Woman visits and they have a beautiful video that outlines how you’ll be taken care of and treated there.
“NEVER feel like asking a doctor to verbally communicate what is going to happen as it happens is ridiculous. This is YOUR body. Always say if something hurts or feels weird.”
That goes for ALL DOCTOR’S VISITS, ALWAYS. If you’re in the ER; if you’re in Critical Care; if you’re at your annual physical; if you’re dealing with a gynecologist. NEVER let a doctor act like you don’t have a right to be treated like a human being.
(BTW followers, this is a VERY good guide about annuals. If you haven’t gone to a gynecologist for your first annual yet, you really should! Once you turn 18 you should go every year just to get checked up, even if you’re not sexually active. It can be nerve-wracking, so if you have any questions about choosing a gynecologist, feel free to talk to me!)
05 12 / 2013
05 12 / 2013
"You learn to love
that used to disgust you.
Those you cannot bear
you learn to accept.
Hating yourself is
It is time for you
05 12 / 2013
His body isn’t even cold yet and the New York times has already put out a shameful article declaring Nelson Mandela to be an “icon of peaceful resistance”. News outlets around the Western world are hurrying to publish obituaries that celebrate his electoral victory while erasing the protracted and fierce guerrilla struggle that he and his party fought against the white supremacist South African state in order to make that victory possible. Don’t let racist, imperialist liberalism co-opt the legacy of another radical. Nelson Mandela used peaceful means when he could, and violent means when he couldn’t. For this, during his life they called him a terrorist, and after his death they’ll call him a pacifist — all to neutralize the revolutionary potential of his legacy, and the lessons to be drawn from it.
Don’t fucking let them.