HPV Feels Like a Punishment for Being Slutty

I don't usually wear my heels while in the stirrups, but my gynecologist thought it would be funny.
Publish date:
June 7, 2011
healthy, colposcopy, gynecologist, HPV, pap smear

I went to the gynecologist yesterday. This lady has seen me through a lot -- STD scares, drug and alcohol addiction, sexual assault. Now that I'm over two years sober and in a monogamous relationship, my crises are fewer and more manageable. These days, her office is even a fun place to feel good about the fact that I'm no longer a total fuck-up. No, I don't drink. No, I don't smoke. No, I'm not having unprotected sex with strangers, and yes I remember where I was last night, thank you.

But my cervix apparently did not get the memo that we're all doing a lot better now. About a year and a half ago, HPV showed up on my pap, which everyone assured me was totally fine and not a big deal and we just need to keep an eye on it. Then, after my last appointment, I received an all-caps email from the office.

Scary, right? Basically, my pap came back with some abnormal cells and they wanted to take a closer look at them. If things didn't look right upon closer investigation, they'd do a biopsy to check for cervical cancer.

And look, I know HPV is everywhere and almost everyone has it. My doctor took great pains to explain to me how common this all is, even among women who have had one or two partners in their lives. Her exact words: "It's not the scarlet A of promiscuity." But I couldn't help but feel like someone with my past, who has made the mistakes that I have, deserves to be punished somehow.

When I was living badly and incapable of protecting myself emotionally, physically or sexually, I would lie awake at night sure I'd contracted HIV. Somehow I didn't, but cervical cancer seems like a fitting sentence for playing fast and loose with my sexuality and my health.

After all, it's written right there on my bill:

But the difference between back then and now is that instead of lying awake worrying, I act like an adult and do what's necessary to take care of myself. So I showed up for my appointment with my sparkly gold shoes on.

The procedure is called a colposcopy, which means they look at your cervix through a microscope for abnormalities. Being the curious type, I asked my gyno what kinds of abnormalities they were looking for and got treated to some nasuea-inducing medical textbook shots of weeping, spotty cervixes.

The actual colposcopy only took about 10 minutes and felt about the same as a regular pap smear, with some added cramping when she swiped some cells from the interior of the cervix. (Bonus medical fun fact: The colposcopy uses a green filter to descrease the red tones of the cervix, so to your doctor everything in there looks a weird shade of lime. Told you, curious type.)

Those cells will still need to be tested, but to the eye, everything appeared to be OK, which is a relief on one level but on another I still feel like HPV is this grim reaper following me around with his slut scythe waiting for the best time to strike. And if anyone else was telling me this, I'd talk a sister down, but there is one judge-y slut-shaming bitch deep down inside me going, "Did you really think you'd escape unscathed?"

How do I shut her up? Cause really, haven't I spent enough time punishing myself?