What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
My first gynecologist was a man. He was actually the same doctor that delivered me, so he had seen my vagina before it was even really a vagina.
I felt very comfortable around him though, even when I had my legs spread and my feet in stirrups for the first time, scooted all the way down to the edge of the paper-covered medical table.
I didn’t see a gyno until I was 17, despite losing my virginity a few years prior. There was no way I had the courage at 15 to tell my mom, “Hey, guess what? I just had sex in my friend’s basement for the first time, so I should probably start seeing a gynecologist.”
I was too busy lying about my age to get my lip pierced and going to raves to be bothered with making a gynecologist appointment.
My first-ever pap smear came back irregular. I needed a colposcopy to examine my cervix closer. I went to my doctor’s office, and he looked inside my vagina with this thing called a colposcope. He had to scrape some cells off my cervix for a biopsy. It hurt a little, but it was mostly just uncomfortable.
A week later, my doctor called and said I needed surgery because he found abnormal cells on my cervix that could possibly lead to cancer if not treated. Being 17, I was horrified. My mom took me to the hospital and I was out of there in two hours. Apparently that surgery is very common and totally not a big deal.
Because of the abnormal cells, my gyno wanted to give me pap smears every six months for the next two years. I moved to Los Angeles from Michigan so I had to find a new doctor. I was still covered under my parents' insurance so I looked up a gyno on my health insurance website, picked random guy and made an appointment.
It wasn’t the nicest office, but I was in no position to be judgmental because I definitely could not afford a Beverly Hills doctor. While I was waiting, I noticed a few books displayed in the waiting room. One of them was called something like, “How To Have Great Sex When You’re Married,” with a picture of the doctor and his wife on the cover. Real classy.
I was kinda creeped out by it honestly, and almost bailed on the appointment after they made me wait an hour. It totally could have been a pop-up OB/GYN office for all I know.
Finally my name was called and a nurse took me to a room. I stepped on a scale and it said I weighed 120 pounds.
“Damn girl, you is skinny.” She said those exact words. Very professional.
“I guess,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
I’ve given up on clever responses to people telling me I’m skinny. What am I supposed to say? Thanks? It’s not like I worked hard to become skinny. It’s genetic.
After I took off my clothes and put on my paper dress, the doctor walked in. He seemed happy to meet me and I instantly liked him. We talked about my past and I told him about my surgery.
“It’s been five years since your last colposcopy so you definitely need one,” he said.
“But my pap smears have all been normal since, so I don’t need one," I corrected him. Doctors don’t like being corrected.
“Would you rather be safe than sorry? Cervical cancer is very serious, and since you’ve had abnormal cells you are at a higher risk.” He had me there.
“Yeah, I guess, but shouldn’t you do another pap smear first?” I didn’t want a colposcopy and knew I didn’t need one.
“You’d have to make another appointment next week and wait for the results, let’s just do one now.”
“OK.” I gave in. I mean, doctors always know best, right?
“Here, let me draw you a diagram of what cervical cancer looks like,” he proceeded. I’m sorry, what?
He got out paper and a pen and drew a stick figure. He put long hair on the stick figure and gave it a smiling face. He drew three circles representing the ovaries and cervix. He put little spots on the cervix to represent abnormal cells.
“OK, so this is you. Well, you’re much prettier than this and too cute to have cancer. Here are the ovaries and--”
He went on to explain how the female reproductive cycle works, something I learned when I was 11. Also, "too cute to have cancer" is something that came out of this doctor’s mouth. I was used to my quiet and comforting gyno in Kalamazoo, so I was starting to feel a little homesick and scared. Welcome to LA, Melissa!
After his stick-figure lesson he had the nurse come in to set up the colposcopy. I scooted down to the bottom of table with my legs spread open.
“A little further. OK, a little more. OK, that’s good," he said a little too happily.
He put the colposcope machine close to my wide-open vagina and checked out my cervix.
“I see a few abnormalities, I’m gonna have to take a sample.” He got out his speculum and scalpel and whatever else he used and put it in my vagina, then he yanked his hand out after he grabbed a slice. It hurt so fucking bad.
“Was that supposed to hurt? Because it did,” I asked, concerned.
He was still looking at my cervix.
“I’m trying to grab a sample of a certain part. I’ll have to take one more.”
He put his scalpel thing back in. I felt him getting a piece of my cervix and this time he yanked harder. The only thing that would’ve made me feel worse is if he'd said “Booyah!” after.
“Hey, no, this hurts and I don’t remember it hurting so much before.” I really wasn't OK.
“I think I got what I needed. You can sit up now. Do you do your own breast exams?”
“Yes. I do them. Just did one this morning. I’m good.” No, I didn’t. But there’s no way I’m letting him touch my boobs.
The whole appointment felt really weird. After he was finished, I put my clothes back on and walked up to the front desk.
“That’ll be $180.” The receptionist said without looking up at me.
“Um, I gave you my insurance info, it should be $30.”
“Your insurance only covers routine exams, you had a colposcopy.”
Ugh. I literally had $500 in my bank account because I hadn’t gotten my first check from the douchey LA club I just started working at. I forked over the money regretfully and almost started crying.
My stomach hurt that night so I took some Advil. I fell asleep on an air mattress in my shared studio apartment in Hollywood. Ever sleep on an air mattress for six months? It’s not too bad.
I woke up the next morning and thought I peed in my sleep. I looked at the sheet and it was covered in blood. My underwear and shorts and half of my T-shirt were soaked in blood. It was like that scene in "Carrie" when she gets her period in the locker room and she’s looking at the blood on her hands screaming. I didn’t scream as much, but I was equally horrified.
The first thing I did was call my best friend and she said to go to the hospital immediately. I looked through my insurance website and found a female gyno. I was able to come in that day. I told her about the colposcopy and she agreed that it was unnecessary. She examined me and said that everything was fine, but the previous gyno took a sample way too deep in my cervix, which caused the bleeding.
She was really nice and helpful. She ended up being my doctor for a few years until I moved to New York.
A week later I got a call from Dr. Stick-figure’s office saying my results came back normal. Great, thanks for the unnecessary procedure, doc. I gave him a negative Yelp review. That’ll show him!
I had another weird encounter with a male gyno in NYC where he was bragging about his ex-wife being a lingerie model and telling me about his millionaire best friend who produces movies. He also scared me into getting an ultrasound because of irregular periods. I’ve asked every girl I know and no one has gotten an ultrasound because of something that minor.
I will only see female gynecologists now. I don’t trust men looking at my vagina unless I’m dating them or they’re paying me (kidding).
Has anyone else had really creepy experiences with gynos? Or am I as bad at picking gynos as I am at picking men?