5 Painfully Awkward Gyno Moments and How to Handle Them
Most of us aren’t super pumped for our next gynecologist appointment. We get it. The poking, the prodding, the super awkward questions… Not every annual feels like chatting with your BFF, but it should be a time where you are listened to and treated with respect. It’s definitely not too much to ask — as one Glow user put it — to “keep me informed, allow me to make decisions, and don’t just treat me like I’m a car in the mechanic’s shop.”
The Glow Community has seen it all so you don’t have to. Here are some of the gyno nightmares they’ve experienced with tips about how to deal if you have a less-than-stellar experience at the doctor:
No questions allowed
One pregnant Glow Nurture user told us: “I told my OB I was thinking about having a water birth and asked him for some more information about them. He looked up at me, horrified, and said, ‘Why would you want to do that?! It’s absolutely disgusting!’ without telling me anything useful. I wasn’t looking for his approval! I hated that he made me feel gross and wrong for even asking.”
If your doctor doesn’t welcome your questions with open arms, push back! “There’s no such thing as a dumb question” has never been truer than at the gyno. You are always entitled to an explanation of what’s happening inside of or being done to your body. If you know you get nervous and clam up, write down your questions on your phone, a Post-It, your hand, whatever! It’ll show your doc you mean business and make you confident you’re not forgetting something.
Why you gotta be so rude?
One Glow user told us about the ridiculous experience she had at her first-ever gynecologist appointment: “I started by asking the doctor about my heavy, irregular periods. She blurted, ‘You most likely have PCOS and you’ll probably never be able to have kids. If you do ever get pregnant, you’ll miscarry. Make an appointment up front,’ then bolted. WTF? How about telling me I should get some tests done and that PCOS isn’t a fertility death sentence at all?”
If your gyno’s bedside manner is long on insensitive scare tactics and short on actual answers, there’s no need to stand by and feel terrible about yourself. It’s time to get a second opinion. Two heads are better than one! Doctoring is both an art and a science, so one doctor might get something right away that another could miss. Getting a second opinion is standard practice and all docs worth their license will be completely comfortable with it. Plus, it’s pretty likely that the next doctor you see will be a way better fit for you (read: nice, sane, not a robot).
“Stop whining, you’re fine”
It took one Glow Baby mama years of agony to get her endometriosis diagnosed: “I begged my gyno for help with the horribly painful periods I’d had since I was a teenager that left me in the fetal position and passing clots the size of golf balls. She didn’t even check me and seemed incredibly annoyed that I was wasting her time. Told me I was perfectly fine and that I should just take Midol (I had already told her I’d tried it and it didn’t make a dent in the pain). Turns out I have endometriosis. I’m so mad I wasn’t given help for it until it started affecting my fertility.”
Of course you should listen to your doctor, but it’s your body, your health. If a little voice in the back of your head is telling you “this isn’t ok,” don’t completely go against your instincts. As your doctor’s customer, you’re entitled to good customer service. Each of us has the right to be taken seriously, and when we say we’re in pain, your gyno should be committed to figuring out a solution! If she’s not, that’s not OK. If your doctor refuses to answer your questions or make it clear they don’t care about your care, don’t be afraid to challenge what she’s told you and to get a second opinion to get to the bottom of things.
Ain’t that a shame
Apparently we just can’t win when trying to get some. Women are getting gyno-shamed for having “too much” AND “not enough” sex. One Eve user’s experience had us SMH-ing all over the place: “The first time I went in for a pap smear, it really hurt. Instead of using a smaller speculum and asking me to clench before having me relax, she gave up and sent me to a sex therapist to deal with my ‘repression.’ Um… WTF?”
Basically everything about that experience should never have happened. If your doctor ever makes you feel ashamed, wrong, or ‘broken,’ it’s time to make a formal complaint. It’s the best way to take meaningful action when you’re being clear and firm but your doctor refuses to comply. Plus, the hospital or practice will appreciate your feedback and will be able to improve future patients’ experiences.
Let’s get physical… without asking first
Some Glow ladies were even traumatized when their gyno didn’t respect sensitive physical boundaries. Here’s one user’s heartbreaking story: “I was sexually assaulted when I was 18 by someone I knew. I was a virgin and had never had a pelvic exam before it happened. I went to the doctor a few days after it happened to be sure I was okay. After I explained what I’d just been through, she ignored my anxiety and went full speed ahead with an internal exam. When I freaked out and started crying, she just laughed at me. After that I didn’t go to the gynecologist again for six years.”
In case it wasn’t clear enough, THIS IS NOT OK. If anything remotely like this happens to you, it’s time to GTFO and get a new doc ASAP. Don’t worry that you’ll be starting from scratch — your old doctor is legally obligated to share your medical records with your new doctor if you request it. Your friends, Glow Community, and review sites like Zocdoc are always there with ideas of who to see if you don’t know where to call.
Most importantly, don’t write gynos off entirely if you have a bad experience. The vast majority of gynos are wonderful, sensitive humans who have your best interests in mind. A good gyno is worth her weight in gold, and there’s a great one out there for you! Though going to your annual is probably always going to fall below a massage-chair pedicure on the “Great Appointments” scale, it definitely doesn’t have to be something you dread. Once you’re armed with the tips above, you’ll be able to make your relationship with your doctor as positive and productive as possible.
Survivors of gyno shame, go forth and make your doctor-patient relationship be less like a power trip and more like a partnership. Get it, girl!