Spreading Your Legs for Better Health

It’s that time of year again, time to face that little appointment that’s been haunting your calendar for months. If you’re anything like me the most dreaded day of the year is one that involves waiting for at least 20 minutes in a sterol waiting room, followed by having to wear an awkward backless “gown”, ending in the utter humiliation that is a pap smear. Yes, that’s right ladies, I’m talking about the yearly visit to the gynecologist.

My gyno is a fast talker. She rattles off all kinds of uncomfortable questions including how many people in total I’ve slept with. I lie of course, because she is the same woman who delivered me and well frankly, she’s judgmental and would assume that I’m a whore. In the midst of my lies she continues on with her usual routine. By the time she has to use that steely torture device, which by the way is always ice cold, her questions have turned to who I’m currently sleeping with. No matter what I say she will always reply with her opinion that men at “your age” are untrustworthy and unable to be monogamous. Uncomfortable and ready to leave I dress quickly and when it’s time for her to say, “Looks great, any questions?” I say “No.” and run for the door. I’m going to tell you why this entire scenario is wrong as well as 5 ways to ensure you are having a productive experience.

A common problem that all people, not just women, share is something called White Coat Syndrome. This phenomenon usually refers to the change in patients blood pressure. In Women’s Studies we discuss it as a patient’s blind trust in what their physician is telling them, or the inability to ask important questions concerning your body due to either intimidation or your doctor’s busy schedule. If I don’t feel comfortable with my doctor, or feel that she is talking to down to me, how am I supposed to ask her anything important? I feel inferior and pushed along which doesn’t help me or anyone else. Every question you have concerning your body is an important one. We need to educate ourselves on the functions of your bodies and the conditions which we are susceptible to.

Another problem with my experience is that asking a patient’s number of sexual partners has absolutely no relevance unless she has and STD/STI. It makes for an uncomfortable situation and only adds to an intimidated feeling. Also, when my doctor talks over her procedure she’s not letting me know exactly what she’s doing. By not explaining the exam fully I remain uneducated and in the dark about my own body. Instead of taking the time to ask questions I get nervous and run. This is possibly the WORST thing anyone can do at the doctor’s office.

So let’s fix this, shall we? First thing’s first,

  • Prepare Questions: Your body may undergo many changes in the span of a year so make sure if you come across something that worries you but is not an emergency you write it down. Preparing questions for your physician before your appointment can not only give you piece of mind but can help your doctor catch something that he/she may have overlooked previously.

Example: For the past couple of months I would become extremely uncomfortable and almost sick during and the week after my period ended. When I finally told my doctor what was happening she informed me that I am allergic to scented tampons and that if I didn’t stop using them I could get a serious infection. I switched brands and could not be happier – all because I asked.

  • Set Boundaries: If at anytime your physician makes you feel uncomfortable speak up about it. Let him or her know that certain questions are unfair to ask, allow him or her to explain themselves but still stand your ground. If at anytime you realize that you and your doctor are not on the same page do not hesitate to find a new one!
  • Get the Real Scoop on Birth Control: Birth control commercials and ads are all over the media. These ads will inform you of all the wonders of these seemingly magic little pills, but what are they not telling you that your doctor actually can?  Before you decide to use birth control make sure you get all of the facts including the major side effects. Also, don’t let yourself be pressured into using any of these methods. Many times, doctors will insist that sexually active young women take the pill, the shot, or use the IUD because “nothing is worse than a young pregnancy”. There is nothing  wrong with using condoms, as long as you actually use them every time.
  • Discuss What’s Important: As I’ve stated above, there is no shame in asking questions. For your own education make sure you discuss big issues with your doctor. Start with breast lumps and how you can check for them at home. As we all know breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women and conducting regular self checks is a great way to ensure the health of your breasts. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is another big topic. Although there are little to no side effects for men infected, in women certain strands of this virus can lead to cervical cancer. The Gardasil vaccine only protects from a few strands but not all. Be sure that you understand exactly how this virus can spread so that you can protect yourself from it.
  • GET TESTED: No matter if you’ve slept with one person or seventy one be sure to get tested regularly to prevent the spread of STD/STI’s as well as obtain any treatment you may need.

You have the right to know everything about your body and how to protect it. As awkward and terrible as those appointments may be for you they are of incredible importance to your health.

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C’mon, Lesbihonest Here.

As a huge supporter of gay rights I believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality. I have lot’s of gay friends. In fact, it’s been said time and time again that a gay man is a straight woman’s best friend. After all, “every woman needs a great shopping partner!” So that’s great we’re all in agreeance that we love our gays. We love gay bars and drag queens and sassy men who stick their hands out in opinionated protest, but what about lesbians? Yes, that’s right ladies. I want to talk about good old girl on girl love.

This blog is all about women and girls so of course I have to talk about my sisters who share same sex practices. As the curser flashes at me annoyingly I’m reminded that I don’t really know anything about lesbianism. Or a gay woman’s struggles in this male dominated society. Why is that? I can sit with my friends having drinks, encircled in our usual cloud of smoke, and I can guarantee the word “fag” will not be said. However I also know that the word “dyke” will be, more than once. Why are we as women, more inclined to accept gay men over gay women? I once read an article that surveyed the opinions of college girls on homosexuality. These girls were increasingly more likely to surround themselves with gay men than lesbians. They reported that they would live with a gay woman as long as she “kept it to herself”, or hid her outrageous lesbianism, but most confided that they wanted no interaction with lesbian students. When asked why, many of them explained that they would be labeled as gay by association and would lose friends. Oh God! You mean these girls would be cordially uninvited to Kappa Kappa Delta’s sexist kegger and rape fest? The horror. I would rather kill myself than let a lesbian stand between me and a bromantic beer pong tournament.

No, stop. Just stop it. We have to change this. We can’t continue to isolate women just because they like other women. Isolation could be the reason that, from what I’ve seen, most gay women choose to hang out primarily with other gay women. There are many bars in my city that cater to gay men and only one or two, that I know of, who’s clientele is mostly lesbians. I was at one of these bars the other night, waiting in line for the bathroom. Thin little sorority girls were running through in their highest heals with a gay man strapped to their arm like a purse. I heard one of them say to the other, “Don’t worry I won’t let those dykes get you.” I’m sorry, but excuse me? I don’t know who you’re getting your information from, but believe it or not lesbians don’t attack innocent college girls with strap-ons. Even worse, the girl I was standing next to looked down at me and asked if she was scary looking. I was horrified.

As an adamant feminist I have been referred to as a “dyke” on more than one occasion or even asked, “oh, so you don’t like dick?” I understand that men feel extremely threatened by lesbians. Perhaps they feel they have to compete with these women because they’re both seeking the same prize. Or maybe it’s some sort of penis inadequacy because there are women out there that they cannot please. There are tons and tons of feminist analyses on the subject but frankly, they bore me so I choose not read them. I remember one however, from a feminist theorist who’s name I can no longer recall who believed that there was no such thing as consensual heterosexual sex. Her argument being that that if men and women are not equal, than women cannot properly consent to sex. The only consensual sex happens between gays and lesbians. Obviously this didn’t go over too well with many readers, and now that “you’re a feminist so you’re a dyke” stereotype hangs a little lower over our heads, but it’s still something to think about.

Even as I type “lesbian” into google images I am astonished by the amount pornography that appears before me. Now, obviously I need to change my security settings but regardless there’s something wrong here. Lesbians don’t exist for Girls Gone Wild as much as they don’t flip innocent straight girls. Let’s stop forcing their sexuality into a box that makes us feel comfortable. When I write about supporting other women, I mean completely supporting them. Accepting and celebrating the differences that bind us together making us uniquely female. We must stop stereotyping each other. When you tear one woman down, you bring us all down. For the record, this applies to gay men as well. They are not designer purses and were not put on this earth to help us with our outfits, even though some may be great at it.