When my doctor recommended I get my first gynecological exam at 18, I freaked out. I had spent the entirety of my life watching my mom pace and sweat for the three days leading up to her exams, so it wasn’t necessarily something I was excited about.
In addition, I was still a virgin and couldn’t understand why on earth I needed to go, not to mention the fact that being a virgin left me less than comfortable with my nether regions.
But I went.
Unfortunately, my mother had to leave town the day I was scheduled, so I actually went alone. And, surrounded by pregnant women, shook like a leaf by myself in the waiting room.
“Is this your first time?” A very pregnant woman took notice of my sweaty palms and incessant toe tapping.
“Mmmhmmm.” I wiped my palms on the Motherhood magazine on the chair next to me.
“It won’t be that bad. It’s not nearly as bad as the first time I had sex.” Awesome. Not only was this woman discussing her sex life with me, but she was giving me a reference point I couldn’t understand. But I didn’t get the chance to ask her about it, because at that moment the nurse came out and called me back.
I stood up slowly, holding on to the chair so as not to pass out. I didn’t know I could get this scared.
I followed the nurse to the room, where she told me to take off my clothes, put on the gown and sit on table to wait for the doctor. When she left the room, I quickly stripped down (which I always do at the doctor out of fear that they will open the door when I am butt naked) and did as she instructed. When I turned to sit down, however, I saw for the first time the contraption she had referred to vaguely as “the table.”
This was no table. It looked like a torture table with these giant metal arms reaching out of the bottom. I had a fleeting mental image of being grabbed and held against my will by those things as the doctor tortured me with a speculum. And then she entered.
She immediately sat me down and attempted to ease my mind. “Don’t be scared,” she said. “This will be nothing for you if you just relax.” Then she had me lay down and pulled out the metal arms, also known as stirrups, for my legs to rest in.
“I will explain everything I am going to do before I do it. That will help take away your fears.” As I lay there with my legs spread eagle in the doctor’s face, I could think of nothing except what she must be thinking looking at my unkempt bikini line. I was mortified. How could I not have waxed before this? Is this the worst one she’s ever seen? Is she going to joke about it with all the other doctors as soon as I leave?!
I wanted to see her reaction, but I couldn’t see anything past the gown stretched over my open legs. Until, of course, the doctor reached up holding the speculum (or, what I like to call the duck bill thingy) and began to explain what she was going to do with it.
“I am going to put this in your vagina and open it up a little bit so I can get in there. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt; you will just feel a bit of pressure. Oh, and it is heated for your comfort!”
As if the fact that this giant, scary metal tool being warm was going to make me feel better.
“Once you are open I am going to put this [note: what looked like a very small toilet bowl cleaner] in to get a swab.”
And that was enough for me. “I think this will actually be a lot better if you just do what you gotta do and not explain it to me. I just want to get this done.”
The doctor lowered her arms, agreed to just do her thing, and went about her business.
It was definitely not the most pleasant experience of my life, but I have to say it wasn’t the worst either. The entire exam was over in less than five minutes, and the most uncomfortable part of the entire thing was when the door next to me swung open mid-exam, with my va-jay-jay open to the world, and a nurse just sauntered in and joined the fun.
But then it was over and the doctor was handing me some antibacterial swab and telling me to put my pants back on. I felt a little discomfort for the rest of the day, but (from my experiences since that fateful day) my friend from the waiting room was right; my first encounter with the gyno wasn’t nearly as rough as my first encounter with sex.