I heard recently that women look forward to their visits to the gynecologist about as much as men look forward to the annual digital rectal exam. If so, it would explain some things. But is it true? Does a visit to the gyno have to be awful?
No, it’s not awful and actually isn’t particularly unpleasant. I agree that the palpation can be a bit annoying, and for some reason my gyno has included a digital rectal exam at every visit so I get to share the joy of that with the menfolk LOL. This used to really bug me (and hurt), but once I started having anal sex it became barely noticeable. It helps that I’ve been seeing the same gyno for the last 30 years or so and he’s very nice and easy to talk to.
As a side note, whenever I would come home from an exam and complain to my husband about the DRE, he would always say “no fair! How come he gets to stick a finger in your (butt) but I don’t?” (He does now.)
My first visits as a (teenager? young adult? I don’t really remember) were extremely painful and a bit humiliating. My first doctor was simply rough and careless of my pain. The humiliation came from his repeated, to the point of absurdity, admonitions about what to do if I was having sex. I wasn’t, and told him so, but he didn’t seem to believe me. I always felt like having M’d had maybe broken my hymen and thus indicated to him that I was no longer a virgin, which made me feel about two inches tall.
Later I switched to a doctor who was magnitudes more gentle and I almost cried with relief at how un-painful it was. I remember being in awe that it didn’t have to hurt for days afterward. He took the time to encourage me to really relax, which after all the infertility stuff we went through since then and all the stuff I’ve had poked up in there, I can vouch for MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
@Brynna: consider how tense you are when you go to the doctor. (Also, ask around about which doctors are gentle; in our town there was one doctor–a woman, no less!–who everybody said was the worst. It was like she just didn’t care at all. The difference between my first two doctors was utterly remarkable. If yours is not gentle, find another!) Then when you go in, do whatever makes you feel the most relaxed: deep breathing, prayer, meditation, stretching, visualization…I don’t know. I managed to just train myself to sort of “melt” because I knew the alternative was pain. If it’s as bad as it sounds, maybe ask your doctor or your PCP for a muscle relaxant to take before you go in (just don’t drive!) Just please, please don’t avoid your annual exam!
Oh..you might also ask about a different sized speculum–the metal torture device–they might be using a standard size without even considering that you might need a smaller one.
Are you suggesting that a woman should try to get some kind of sexual pleasure from it?
It doesn’t have to be awful, but it sure isn’t pleasant. The most painful parts for me is when they take there hands and basically squeeze your internal organs. Fingers from the inside, fingers from the outside, pushing together to “feel” if the ovaries and whatnot feel “normal”. Would another man sqeezing your balls, to pain, be enjoyable? Then there is the taking of something that resembles a wire brush and scraping the tissues off of your cervix, and at least with me, always leaving a streak of blood. Does that sound fun, enjoyable, or pleasant?
The ones I’ve had were almost unbearable. In fact, I almost refuse to go anymore. When the metal ‘torture’ device is inserted, and like DH would say, cranked open 6 inches (thats an exaggeration, I hope) and your insides feel ripped apart, and you are clenching table and breaking into a sweat and almost blacking out, its far, far from pleasant. Yes, I’ve had it done by 4 different doctors, and only one was a tad bit less unbearable. And the dreadful sensation of the ‘wire brush’ that SC mentionioned is exactly how she described. DH came with once and refused after that because the the metal thing was more than he could bear to see inserted in me like that.
For me it’s not the discomfort, which there is some during different parts of the exam, it’s the trepidation of the results of the exam. As someone who has had gynecological problems in the past (uterine polyps and abnormal menses), and with a strong family history of gynecological problems–it’s more about that.
I have had bad bedside manner as well… one obgyn, did hardly any talking. Not explaining a thing unless asked. Uncomfortable. And a man for you 😉 😀 Another one had great bedside manner, talking very calmy the whole way through, explaining every little thing they were doing and why. I loved that, but if you are even slightly overweight she talks about how you are obese. What woman ever wants to put herself in a place to hear that? When I researched reviews on her and her partner, this was the biggest complaint and lost patients because of it. This same doctor, when I asked about ever facing low libido because of hormones, her answer, “Low libido is only from here,” point to the neck, “up.” That one answer told me that she doesn’t know what she is talking about, and I know if I ever face those kind of issues, I will not go to her about them.
Also, PAP smears, that they were wanting yearly, are looking for a cancer that is usually caused by an STD. I am in the lowest risk group there is. I have felt no need to be pushed by the medical and pharmaceutical companies to do the “recommended testing”, especially when we are self pay patients….and I can do without the pressure from the doctor.
With doctors in general, there is nothing more discouraging, than to know something is not right with you, and you go in appointment after appointment, doctor after doctor, and you get no answers. Or to be told “all is fine”.
Like you’ve already seen, it can vary widely. How relaxed is the patient, which is influenced by both the patient’s personality and mindset and the doctor’s manner. How psychologically uncomfortable is the patient with being seen and probed by a relative stranger in a most vulnerable area. How stretched out is the patient. How cold is the exam room. How cold is the speculum and the lube. How dry is the patient, and how much lube does the doctor use. How tender and sensitive her organs are – which can vary over time within the same patient. Is the patient experiencing vaginal atrophy. etc. etc.
I don’t think any of my doctors have used a wire brush, I think they just use a long cotton swab. If they use wire and I just have never seen it, I certainly haven’t felt it. But even with the cotton swab, simply the pressure of being poked in the cervix, while I don’t find it painful, it’s still extremely unpleasant and even makes me a little queasy.
Then they give you some wipes to clean up, but you feel like you really need a shower. You have to put your clothes back on anyway, and if they used a lot of lube, you’re dripping all the way home, or even worse, to work.
As a teenager, while waiting in my primary doc’s exam room for a regular issue, my mom and I heard screams and moaning from an elderly woman in the next room. When the doctor came in, he said it was one of the gentlest pap smears he’d ever done.