I have a confession, a few actually…

I’ve wanted to use this post title for AGES but didn’t actually have an excuse until now.

I tried to wax once but instead of removing hair, I just ended up with goop stuck to me that I couldn’t get off for days. It stuck to my underwear and so I ended up with multicolored fuzz mixed in with the unremoved hair and goop. It’s a good thing that this was back when no one was seeing my vag. I loved Leah’s story even more because of this.

I’ve never been to the gynecologist.

I wouldn’t even let my doctor examine me below the waist or above the knees.

Some of you understand, I’m sure.

I couldn’t let anyone touch me, not even a doctor.

I’ve healed, though, and now I need to take the plunge, get a pap smear, get examined, and get birth control of some sort (besides condoms, of course). I want an IUD.

I think that I’m going to take you all through it too. Don’t worry, I won’t be gross. It’s part of my recovery process which means that it’s part of my weight loss process. It also scares me just thinking about it. For real, my hands are shaking. It feels like a situation where I’m not in control and I’m terrified of loss of control.

I have a feeling that psychologists out there could have a field day with my blog. AJ?

As frightening as it is, we don’t gain courage and healing through complacency and avoidance so I will go with my poor little shaking hands. I’m sure it won’t be as bad as I dread. Things rarely are.

I have a doctor’s appointment on December 9 to talk about a whole host of things and the aforementioned will be some of those things. My TMI BFF is also making an appointment to do these same things because I’m a coward and told her she had to do it too so I wasn’t alone. She hasn’t done these things either.

It makes me wonder how many women besides the two of us neglect our reproductive and sexual health. I’ve been the worst offender simply because of fear.

So, here are the things that I’m pondering with my appointment a week and two days away. Which pair of underwear should I wear? I mean, almost everything I have is pretty ridiculous. Do I go for the silly just because that’s my daily practice or will that be totally awkward? Maybe I should buy a “normal” pair of underwear just for such events.

Is my own doctor going to do these exams or will I have to see someone else?

How long will I have to wait to get the IUD? How long after that until I can have sex again? I mean, the appointment is on a Thursday, does that put me out of commission for the weekend? I hope not.

Edit: I forgot to add that I have to give credit to Libby for my decision to pursue an IUD. She posted about it a few weeks ago and that was where I learned you could get one before having children. She also posted about the initial insertion (which I didn’t see until today when I was grabbing the first link and is making me think that some serious painkillers might be in store for me if I am going to go that route).

Leave a Comment

Amy November 30, 2010, 7:03 pm

It's not that uncommon to feel uncomfortable, but I've had at least 3ish doctors look down there, and it's just uncomfortable and slightly awkward. You just have to think – they've seen worse.

But as for the underwear, it REALLY doesn't matter what you wear, because they won't be seeing it.

Usually what happens is, they come in say their hellos, tell you the dealio, give you a gown or paper sheet to cover you up and leave the room, you take off your pants and underwear, fold neatly on the chair and get up on the cold paper covered bed contraption. They knock, come back in and you get situated discretely.

It depends who will do the exam – usually your doctor – if he is a male, generally a nurse will also be present, up by your head to help you feel comfortable.

I don't know anything about an IUD – so I can't help you there, but PLEASE do a post about the IUD experience, as I have been seriously considering getting on in the next year and would like to know about the pain, details, etc.

aperfectversionofmyself November 30, 2010, 7:37 pm

Like Amy said, the doctor won't be seeing your underwear. You'll take it off and put on a gown before the doctor examines you.

As someone who's cousin had uterine cancer at 23 and as someone who's mother was diagnosed with both cervical and uterine cancer before she was 30, I take my annual exam very seriously. I started before I was sexually active, even though it wasn't 100% neccessary because I won't take chances with cancer.

Good luck – it will be fine. Uncomfortable, yes, but fine. You'll feel so relieved that's you've done it once you're on the way home.

Emily November 30, 2010, 7:44 pm

I just had an IUD placed last month and it wasn't too bad. But then, I have given birth 4 times! I took Advil before I went in and had light cramping the rest of the day. As for when you can have sex? It is effective immediately, however you WILL bleed, possibly for a few days…mine lasted 3 weeks. Also, typically they will not do an IUD placement in the first appointment. They do a consult first and you have to make a second appointment for the actual placement. Hope this helps!

Kim November 30, 2010, 7:59 pm

You know, I'm 29 and last year was my first ever appointment to get checked down there. It was done by my regular doctor and it was much less uncomfortable than I expected.

As for the whole underwear thing, the doctor never saw mine, she had me change into a gown so I wouldn't even worry about it!

Good luck!

Katie Metzler November 30, 2010, 8:11 pm

I think it definitely takes a few trips to feel remotely un-self-conscious. I mean it's still always sort of awkward and uncomfortable that someone's staring at you down there and trying to make small talk. Even without having sex, it's good to get the pap smear done. I'd be really interested in hearing about the IUD experience because I'm thinking of getting one myself.

queerveganrunner November 30, 2010, 8:31 pm

No field days my friend…many many women are terrified of the lady parts doctor. Especially those with a trauma history. I personally have been seeing a lady parts doctor since I was 13 since I have such bad luck with my ovaries my gyno has actually recommended I play the lottery. Tell your doctor up-front that you are nervous, explain why, and a good doc will walk you through the entire procedure step by step (as in "Now you will feel my hand on your tigh, now you will feel the speculum…" etc)

Nubia November 30, 2010, 8:46 pm

Oh, man. I hated going to that doctor until I got pregnant. There was no way around it. He was an awesome doc and so was my nurse but it still made me sweat e/time I was in the waiting room.

It didn't get easier but I'm glad I kept up with it. It's important to take care of yourself and I agree w/the rest, tell them ahead of time. My doc went to the same college and we used to talk about the football team while he was doing his thing. It made it seem like it lasted 30 secs.

eatmovewrite.com November 30, 2010, 9:10 pm

Your underwear won't matter. They won't see it.

My first gyno was actually the same man that delivered me (my mom's gyno), so I always said it was easy to go to the first man who ever saw me naked.

I have no real issues with it now, except I get anxiety if I see a new doctor because they don't know that they have to use special (miniature) tools on me. I'm super petite, so if they don't believe me and use the normal tools, there's pain (for me). So, all that is to say that the most important thing to me is that you have a doctor that makes you feel comfortable and who listens to you. Almost always, it will be YOUR doctor doing your exam, so I wouldn't worry about that part of it.

Ashley @thefitacademic November 30, 2010, 9:37 pm

I still hate going to the gyno, even though it's been a decade since my first visit! It's weird, too, because unless you have a history of cervical cancer, the new recommendations are only to see the obgyn every other year, rather than every year. But if your insurance company is like mine, they require a yearly visit or else they won't cover prescription meds (like oral contraceptives). Boo!
Let us know how it goes!

Andrea B. December 1, 2010, 2:43 am

I've had both types of IUD…the Mirena (hormonal one) and the copper IUD. I HATED the Mirena and ended up pulling it out myself after about a year. The strings are a little more coarse than the copper one and the man can sometimes feel it if he catches it the wrong (or right!) way… The Mirena has a higher rate of ovarian cysts that rupture and are very painful. Also, Mirena causes your periods get lighter and lighter and then almost non-existent…except for the light spotting and ALL of the PMS/menstral symptoms (cramps, bloating, moody, etc).
I now have the copper IUD (for almost 2 years) and I love it. I don't even know its there. My periods were a little heavier for the first 8 months with it, but have since gone back to normal.
The insertion with the copper IUD was a little easier than the Mirena…but neither were very painful. They actually like to insert it when you are menstrual because your cervix is slightly dialated. I have heard that if you have not given birth that you are more likely to expell the IUD in the first few months because your uterus has not been stretched out like a big balloon.
I recommend an IUD, but only if you are going to be in a committed monogamous relationship. (I will refrain from telling my chlamydia/massive pelvic infection story right now). Needless to say, I recommend both you and your partner getting tested before going without.
I made the mistake of getting the IUD like 3 days before Valentine's Day as they tell you to refrain from the sexy time for at least 5-7 days (you're more vulnerable to infection for a little while).
They won't give you the IUD until you've been tested for everything, including pregnancy.
I think thats all I know about that…:-)

Fat Girl vs. World December 1, 2010, 3:17 pm

I got over the fear/discomfort of going to an OB/GYN real easily.

Background: mom died when I was 13; dad was clueless. I had horrible pain from my period and would frequently get sick.

When I was 18/19 and on college break in NYC, I called my dad at work in unbearable pain and begged him to come home to take me to the hospital. He did. They gave me a pregnancy test (they thought i was miscarrying). I was a virgin.

This happened again when I was back in DC at school. It was worse this time. It wasn't the "oh drink some tea" kind of pain my mom had described. I bit my lip and walked myself to GW hospital (luckily it was a few blocks a way) and went to the gynecology department and said "I don't have an appointment, but i need someone to either cure me or kill me." I didn't care how many first year doctors stared at my hoo-hah at that point.

So after years of suffering, I finally found out that I get ovarian cysts. I've been poked, I've been prodded, I've been tested. But at least I know now.

My Ob/gyn is actually a nurse practitioner that is a marathoner. She was the first doctor to notice my weight loss. I <3 her.

So… in other words… good job on sucking it up and doing the right thing by going. You get to wear big girl pants now.

Emma December 2, 2010, 4:00 am

You are adorable <3 First, you can wear any underwear that you want – you ultimately take it off and put on the incredibly attractive garment they provide, so nobody sees it anyway. Second, your own doctor will do the exams; however, she may need someone else to put in the IUD – imagine my surprise when there were no practitioners at Columbia University that could mine in! Thank goodness for Planned Parenthood.

Third, I wanted to give you my IUD story. I'm sure it's similar to everyone else's, but, when I was going to get mine, I couldn't read enough about it. There was a lot of research, and a lot of questions about my sex life – they strongly do *not* recommend it if you are not in a committed relationship because *if* you were to get an STD, it can travel reallllllly quickly up that string – nuff said. They also warned me that I could expel it in the first few months (I had increased risk for this, as I have not borne children), and that it might make my menstrual cramps worse; I've never had menstrual cramps, so that didn't phase me.

The day I went to get it done, I met with my practitioner, and was able to ask all the questions I had, from 'How bad is the insertion going to hurt?' to 'My boyfriend has his penis pierced and I'm afraid the strings will get stuck on his…thing." She then had me draw where the piercing was, and we both decided to err on the side of cutting my strings a little shorter. Again, I love Planned Parenthood.

So then, I laid down and she measured my uterus. This is the part where she had told me that some people pass out, and that it's pretty painful; she reminded me at this point to let her know if I needed a break, but promised it wouldn't take more than two minutes. Yeah, I totally understand why some people pass out; it hurt like a MOTHERF*CKER. Right when I was about to tell her, "Okay, you have to stop that NOW" it was over. If I had it to do over again, I might wear my iPod and blast some really explicit gangsta rap to get me through…that's my plan for when I get it out.

After that, she did the insertion, which, compared to the measuring, was not bad at all. Then, for the next 24-48 hours, I had some bad cramps. Bad. But not completely unmanageable. Like, I still went and performed my nanny duties, I just spent more time hunched over on the park bench than pushing the kids on the swing. Also, I always try to *not* take pain meds – it's the masochist/pride in me – but when I woke up at 3 AM because the cramps were so bad, I finally popped some Aleve. It helped so much I kissed the bottle. And then my roommate for giving it to me.

After the first few days, I was pain free. My first few periods, I had some significant cramping and heavy bleeding (TMI, sorry!), but, again, nothing unmanageable.

Now, three years later, I am still SO happy with my decision. Yes, there's some initial discomfort, but omg, the ability to have sex, worry-free and not have to pump hormones into my body – SO worth it. I hear getting it out is equally painful to getting it in, but I don't care – I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

As for how long to wait until you have sex… Well, I don't know if I could've done it two days after…but three? Yeah, you'll probably be good. Just take the Aleve, and you'll be fine 😉

Oh, and SO proud of you for going! Having someone all up in your business is *way* awkward…but it beats the hell out of having your brain turn to Swiss cheese from advanced syphilis. (Has anyone else seen that episode of SVU?)