The Lady Doctor

Once a year, every year, it is necessary to go to what my friends euphemistically call “the lady doctor” aka the gynecologist.  This is rarely a pleasant experience for many, many reasons, even in the best of times.  You don’t go in there expecting to have a fun time of it.  And just about everyone I know has a story in which things have gone awry.   Zuska has recently shared her terrible experience with a physician’s assistant during her annual exam, so, in a show of solidarity, I thought I would share my “worst annual visit ever” story.

For several years, I had been getting my exam by a lovely nurse practitioner who was upbeat, kind and efficient.  However, she took a position elsewhere (as an instructor at a medical school, actually, so I suppose I was glad she was at least going to influence generations of health care workers) so I had to find someone different.  I tried to get the person a friend of mine saw but she was all booked up.  So, I got someone who was an unknown.

I should’ve known things were not going to go well when in the beginning she asked if I had any plans on getting pregnant and when I said no she said, in a rather patronizing tone, “You can’t wait forever, you know.”  Really?  Gosh, I may be getting my PhD in cell biology but I am completely ignorant of the fact that women have a finite amount of time in which to conceive!

So, we go through the breast exam and all that, and then I’m in the stirrups, with my ass hanging off of the table as per usual and of course that’s when things really started to go downhill.  Because things are taking a lot longer than they ought to.  And she must’ve repositioned the speculum at least 5 times (does anyone else find those damn plastic speculums uncomfortable?  what happened to the metal ones???).  Then, she elevated the bed WAY up high, I mean I must’ve been 6 feet off of the ground.  After more futzing around (at this point, I would say I’ve been subjected to this for about 15 minutes which, if you’ve ever been in stirrups and had a speculum being constantly repositioned you know that that feels like FOREVER), I have the following conversation:

HER:  I can’t find your cervix.

ME:  Well, it was there the last time someone checked.

Now, I know I have a retroverted uterus (aka a “tipped” uterus).  I know this because my previous nurse practitioner told me (and when I asked if that was a problem, she said only in that it might make some sexual positions more uncomfortable than others and I had an AHA! moment).  This means, of course, that my cervix is not in the conventional position with respect to the rest of my anatomy.  However, I know that it is not impossible to find my cervix because not only have health care people been able to find my cervix fairly easily for many years I have also seen the damn thing myself*.  And, anyway, aren’t there only so and so many places to be looking for it?  I’m pretty sure there’s not that much room up there.

Finally, after five more minutes of searching, the woman found my missing cervix, scraped it and blessedly removed that damn speculum.

I should’ve written a letter of complaint.  But, I didn’t.  Actually, I should have told the stupid woman to take out the damn speculum and get someone in the room who knew what the hell she was doing.  But, I didn’t.  Because I’m a Nice Girl.  And because it’s difficult to feel empowered when you’re in stirrups with your legs wide open and your ass hanging off of the table.

This year, when I went to the lady doctor (at the same clinic), I got a different person–a nurse midwife–and I feared I would be subjected to another fiasco but all that happened is one readjustment during which I said, “I have a retroverted uterus,” and the nice woman replied, “You certainly do!” and moments later it was all over with.  Thank you, Jesus!

Note to self:  When looking for a new lady doctor be sure to ask in the beginning if she’s ever had problems finding a cervix.


ETA:  Unfortunately, I’ve had to disable the comments on this post due to the large amount of disturbing spam comments it was getting.  😦  I’m apologize to all of the women who have found this page and would like to comment on their own experiences.



*Once when I was having my annual exam, the woman conducting it asked, “Would you like to see your cervix?”  Now, the real answer to this question was, “No, thanks,” but that made me feel like I was being chickenshit so I said, “Why yes I would!” and a mirror was brought over and held in the appropriate position and I leaned way forward (difficult in stirrups) and saw my cervix.  Several years later another examiner asked me if I wanted to see my cervix and I said, “I’ve already seen it once before, thanks!”

13 thoughts on “The Lady Doctor

  1. Since we’re sharing: I once made my NP cry and have to leave the room during an annual exam. It started out that she had tried using a speculum that was too large, so she got the smaller one. But it was cold. And the whole thing was painful (as per usual) so I was choking back tears. I think that was too much for her, and she started tearing up and left for a few minutes (after taking out the speculum and putting the blanket back over me). Now I warn my NPs/etc that I find the exam painful, and I do much better if they geek out with me about what they’re doing. I also practice relaxing breathing during that part.

    I would do anything to not have to have those exams, but I need them in order to get my contraceptives. There has to be a less invasive way to check out our health.

    • I have just turned 18 and thought i should go for my first screening , i was nervous as it was but tried to laugh about the situation and joke with the nurses i was in there for 25 minutes with shuving up those plastic things and changing all different sizes . They started of with a large one witch practically tore to pieces then tried four different types and sizes several times. They were making cough viciously so that they could try find some sort of cervix but it seemed to be non existant . After 20 minutes the nurse felt that she needed to stop putting me through pain and told me that she couldnt find my cervix so i dont know why and what the hell means so now im scared thinking im abnormal? am i ? and the worst thing is iv gota to go bak 2 days after for another gander and see if they can find it this time .

  2. Wow – that’s terrible! How could that take 15-20 minutes? I’m glad your last one was much better.

    I’ve been very lucky in this regard I guess – I’ve never had a weirdo doctor (and I’ve been to a few different ones because of moving around a lot). The only time that was particularly bad was when I had to get a biopsy done (nothing serious – I had some “abnormal” cells on a pap test and they just wanted to follow up). THAT was uncomfortable, including the live video feed they had up on a TV right beside my head. That was not something I needed to see! LOL

    • my last one was almost like hers and i hated it. My cervix couldnt be found and i was in there for a long time. And i am do now and dont want to go again

  3. Isn’t it awful when they don’t know quite what they’re doing? 15 min of poking around sounds terrible!

    I had a resident once who had just about the worst bedside manner. He told the nurse he had been up all night working in the ER — great, can you please go rest up before you start poking around on me? Plus, he couldn’t answer any of my questions without running to check with the attending. Awful. Then the exam was painful, his fingers were all bloody when he pulled them out, and I was bleeding for several hours after (not much blood, but still!).

  4. I once had an NP somehow manage to snap a metal speculum shut inside of me, pinching and tearing something all up in there. There was a decent amount of blood, significant amounts of uncomfortable squirming, some swearing, and a few tears. And then it took 10 minutes for her to locate the cervix because there was blood covering everything, from my newly formed speculum injury. And, after the entire ordeal, she pulls out the mirror, and says “Do you want to see your cervix? It’s a little bloody though.”

    No, bitch, I want you to get the metal pinchers of pain out of me NOW so I can painfully waddle my out of here and start the panic over the fact that I have to do this all over again in a year.

  5. When I first went to get examined in order to obtain contraceptives, my doctor at the college clinic, who bore an unfortunate resemblance to a used-car salesman, said, “I can get the nurse practitioner to do this or I can go ahead. What would you prefer? I’m a big boy, I can handle it.”

    I was (a very naive) 21 and had no idea how to respond to something like that. I wish I’d had the guts to say to him, “That’s EXACTLY why I’d like the NP, thank you very much.”

  6. hm, one of my times was with a male doctor. No offense to him being male, but the fact that he was fairly rough and had a cold big metal speculum to poke about and I wasn’t the most experienced woman….. ehh… not the best combo. Very awkward. Of course I thought that was how it was supposed to be?!?

    Next time was with a great female doctor and it didn’t hurt at all… imagine the surprise from me. Duh.

    sometimes I just wish all the questions could be asked before you’re in the stirrups and all out there… nothing to make someone uncomfortable and not assertive.

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  8. What happens when they are there for 15 minutes and still cant find it then what ? My dr said that to me and then said i’ll call and get you a specialist referral.Then sent me out the door with a ton of questions like where could it go, it cant walk off, does that mean no more kids, am i crazy?I had a baby by c-section 3 years ago could that have anything to do with it?

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