Firstly, I need to preface this article by saying that I don’t know how to be a proper adult yet and I still find making doctors appointments super scary, so I nagged my mum and eventually she did it for me.
Unfortunately, good ol’ mum failed to mention that the gynaecologist about to put his fingers into my vag was a man, so when I walked into the doctor’s office I was greeted by the sight of a balding gentleman rubbing his hands together and staring at anatomical pictures of female genitalia. Safe to say I was a little creeped out, but I only really started sweating when he introduced himself as my doctor.
I was so nervous. Most of the women in the generations above me have some sort of horror story to tell about old men sticking speculums into their sensitive areas and cranking those buggers open wide enough to have a sneak peak at their cervix. I was prepared for pain, but I needn’t have been.
The doctor was lovely. It turned out that he was rubbing his hands together to try and warm them up in order to make the whole “stranger sticking his fingers into my vagina” experience slightly more pleasant, which I did appreciate when the time came to get down to it.
All in all, the procedure didn’t hurt one bit.
When it was over I mentioned that I had avoided this visit for years because I had expected the procedure to hurt. I was told that I was not the only woman to do so, and when I said that I didn’t think it was all that important I was promptly informed that I really wasn’t the only one.
The thing is, we don’t talk about vaginas enough. Female genitalia is still a taboo subject and honestly, that needs to change. I shouldn’t have avoided an important doctors appointment because I was ill informed and too scared to take my kit off in front of a trained professional. And the fact that there is an entire medical field dedicated to keeping vaginas healthy goes to show just how important it is to look after our little ladies.
Personally, I got tested because a friend of mine contracted HPV and sent me this document from the HPV Information Centre. It’s long and arduous to read, so here’s a summary of the important facts:
- HPV is considered to be the most common sexually transmitted infection out there, to the extent that almost every sexually active person will contract it at some point in their lifetime.
- HPV can cause cervical cancer in women.
- Cervical cancer ranks as the 4th cause of female cancer in the world, and the 2nd in woman aged 15-44.
- 830 million women aged >=15 are at risk of cervical cancer worldwide.
All I can say to that is go get checked, if for no other reason than to get a cool ultrasound picture of your badass, baby-making uterus to stick on your wall.