One Radfem’s Experience with Gynecology

This is just an experience babble, because I feel like I have to get it out.  Not much political in here, so if you dun like personal stuff feel free to skip this.  Or if you do, feel free to share your experiences with gynos.   I literally have hundreds of drafts to publish, so expect a real(ish) post sometime this week.

I knew things were going to be bad from the get-go.  I was prepared to be lectured on how I just needed to try a different pill, and find the one that’s “right for me.”  Still, I hoped that maybe, at least, she had women who were going off the pill (probably to try and conceive) and came in because their periods were way off or their body started freaking out.

Just the nurse asking the basic questions confirmed that my pessimism was well-earned.

“Are you sexually active?”

“Yes, but I don’t have intercourse.”

She looked at me like I had grown a second head. “…Do you have oral sex?”

“Well, I don’t go down on him.”

“So, ‘no,’ you aren’t then.”

“…”

Can you say, erasure of my lived orgasms experience?  Cunnilingus, of course, does not count as sex, unlike blowjobs.  So, apparently, I’m abstinent.  This isn’t news to me, since men like Hugo and Glen had been telling me I am.  It should make me more upset than it does, to know that the love making I have doesn’t count for anything at all, just because a dick doesn’t get shoved somewhere.  The implications for lesbians are obvious.   I swear, if I’m ever forced to go to a gyno again, I’m going to ask if having anal sex makes me as sexually active…when it’s with a strap-on and my male partner receiving.

I explained why I came in to the nurse: My last period before I came to the doctor that had taken around 50 days to come, and the one before that just 30 days- what scared me was it seemed to be getting worse, not better.  At the time of the appointment, I hadn’t had a period in over 80 days, and I knew stressing about it would only make it worse, so I decided get a doctor’s opinion.   I said I suspected it was due to me coming off the pill,  since the first few weeks off it threw my body into chaos.   She responded noncommittally, telling me the doctor would be in soon.  The urine test came back negative for pregnancy,  which wasn’t a huge surprise since I hadn’t had intercourse.

I repeated my suspicions to the doctor.  Unsurprisingly, she promptly dismissed them.  I should have no problems going off the pill, it wouldn’t throw my body off at all and my periods should be back to normal immediately.  To try and convince her that coming off the pill had a huge impact on my body, I told her about the month long depression after the withdrawal period and about my breast-yup, just one-lactating and becoming sore and inflamed.  (I now think this was a plugged duct, since after I “expressed” some of whatever the hell was coming out, it started to heal and feel better.)

She proceeded to explain to me, as if I had never had a period, that some women suffer from “premenstrual syndrome,” aka PMS, which could cause those things.   (Who the hell goes through a PMS-induced funk for four weeks?)

And of course, the pill had probably been covering up my extreme PMS, and the best thing to do would be for me to go back on the pill to avoid it again.  I tried to explain that I had never lactated or had sore breasts even before I went on the pill, or before my latest period.   Of course, that was ignored, and she suggested instead that maybe I had PMDD, which, of course, would be treated by the pill.

She then went on to tell me I should go back on it, to regulate my periods.  I told her that I didn’t want to “regulate” my periods, I wasn’t going to take hormones and raise my risk of stroke for such a small reason, and reemphasized that I did not want to be on the pill.

As a doctor, she should know and explain to the patient there is a difference between a period and the withdrawal bleeding experienced when stopping hormonal contraceptives.

When I told her about going off the pill, she asked why I would do such a thing.  I said my partner and I weren’t going to have intercourse anymore, so there wasn’t much of a point.  I had health reasons, too: , having migraine headaches makes one four times more likely to suffer a stroke, and I have those probably once or twice a month.  The pill also increases the risk of stroke significantly, and I don’t want to up my risks of stroke for no reason.

Her response?

You’re more likely to have a stroke due to pregnancy than from being on the pill.

…dfjsdlfj.  Hey, doc, you remember where I told you I’m not having intercourse?  And even if I was, you heard of condoms?  Aren’t doctors supposed to look out for our health, and weigh the risks and benefits of the drugs they prescribe?  Oh sorry, I forgot this was women’s health, which means the goal is to make it as non-consequential as possible for a man to stick his dick in you, or deal with the consequences of him doing that.

When the “regulate your [unruly] periods/PMS/avoid pregnacy” approach didn’t work, she shifted gears.

It was “dangerous” for me to have irregular periods, because it could mean I have an estrogen deficiency, which would mean I could suffer from osteoporosis sooner in life.  And guess what I might do, to ensure that I wouldn’t suffer from osteoporosis early in life?   I should be on the pill to ensure I would develop “healthily.”  (No, she didn’t say anything about testing my hormones before recommending I get on the pill).

Eventually, she gave up on converting me to pillitute, and said I could change now for the exam.  I told her I didn’t want a pap smear.  She told me they were needed just to check for STDs.  Well, I wasn’t “sexually active” so that wasn’t a problem-the issue seemed settled to me.

So, after our one-on-one, I changed into the paper thing, took off my pants, got on the table, and laid down.  The doctor and nurse came in. I’m not sure why the nurse was there, she didn’t do anything the whole time.  Now I think she was there to hold me down in case I fought back.

She springs it on me we’re going to do the pap smear.  I said I don’t want to (again).  Couldn’t we not do it.  She said we had to, to see if anything was “wrong.”  She didn’t explain what she might find that way, or what STD might cause a missed period.  Just that I “had to” have one.

I don’t think I said anything, so she started examining my vulva.   At least she warned me before she inserted the speculum, I guess.  I started crying at this point.

She told me if I relaxed it wouldn’t hurt.  Relax, relax, relax.  It’s going to hurt if you’re tense.  She just kept saying to relax.

I cried and screamed the whole time.  I honestly wish I had flashbacked, or dissociated, but I didn’t.

The  finger exam was next.  I had done that before with no problem, because my last gynecologist had been really kind.  I told her I would be okay with that, as long as she just used one finger.

Less than a minute in, she told me she was inserting a second.  It wasn’t a question.

After being allowed to dress myself, she tells me I have to go get blood drawn to test my TSH, LH, estrogen and prolactin levels, which makes perfect sense to me the.  I go the checkout and get the prescreiption for getting the testing done.

Apparently she thinks I’m too dumb to know what the word “hirsutism” means or just too dumb to google it, becuase she put that as a symptom on the sheet, next to amenhorea.   It actually is a legit condition, and a sign of problems-I’m not denying that.

What pisses me off is that she didn’t bring it up to me during the exam-if you think there’s something wrong with me or a symptom that something is off, I have the right to know.  It’s my goddamn body.  But I guess she thought I might get uppity.

I feel like I was raped all over again, but now it’s almost worse.  Because of who I am now, I can’t just write it off as what sex is normally like.  I enjoyed sex so much, and now I can’t.  I feel like everything people say about radical feminists is true: I’m a prude, that I just need to be “taught” how to have sex, I’m sexually dysfunctional and just plain fucked up.

*Do lesbians even really go to gynos?  STDs, cervical cancer, pregnancy, and birth control are pretty much straight-women exclusive.  I suggest they just rename gynos to “birth control dealers” and be done with it.

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8 responses to “One Radfem’s Experience with Gynecology

  1. ms. c, it occurs to me that the standard gyno line of sex = men sticking thier dicks into you is REALLY a very covert way of determining whether you are at risk for disease. noone ever frames it that way of course, because we all have to be sold 100% on PIV and heterosex…and the gyno industry as a whole does NOT WANT healthy vaginas, or an absence of unintended pregnancies, or they would all be out of a job and they all know it. but thats what they are really asking you, when they ask if you are a dick receptacle: its a diagnostic tool, and a pretty honed one at that. women would be SO MUCH HEALTHIER without PIV, or any contact with mens ejaculate at all.

    i agree that ALL DOCTORS ARE WOMAN HATING MISOGYNISTS. and that PIV = sex = PIV is problematic. and i also think that PIV-side effects are worn as a badge of honor among women who tee-hee about bladder infections, as if its an affirmation that they are sexual, or desirable that men want to harm them this way. but not having PIV/PIM does NOT make you a prude, and feeling violated by what your gyno did to you, and by her questions, doesnt reflect negatively on you, at all.

    • Thanks FCM. I really agree-the gyno industry is such a messed up institution. They have to ask it in a way so that you dun realize that the most dangerous kind of sex is PIV.

      God knows I am not going to a gyno (or a doctor prolly) for a long-ass time. Now that you mention it, I also think it’s seen as a badge of honor-my friends seemed a bit bothered that the semen stung after intercourse but also vaguely happy too? I didn’t get it at all, but now I think it makes sense.

      Thank you for saying I’m not a prude-it’s so hard not to feel that way, especially when even other feminists call me “abstinent”.

  2. This doctor treated you so badly, it made me so upset to read! So I wanted to delurk, and write to you.

    Miss Citrus, you are NOT a prude for not doing sex acts/taking pills which puts you in risk of harm – and instead having sex that you get orgasms from. It means you value yourself and take care of yourself. Screw misogynist doctors. I agree with FCM: They need women on pills and PIV, so they can continue business as usual.

  3. What an awful experience to go through, Mscitrus. As I read your account I found myself getting more and more upset, the further in I read. That woman violated you! No ifs ands or buts about it. She trampled over your informed consent and right to refuse. It seemed like she looked down on you, for whatever reasons. And her total refusal to listen to you, omg! What an unforgivable breach of trust.

    One of the things that troubled me about this was that your gynecologist was female! What the hell? Every behavior, even the words she used (as you wrote them), is exactly what I have become accustomed to getting from male doctors. “It’s not the drug/pill/treatment, no there couldn’t be anything wrong with those because the FDA or AMA said they was okay, therefore they are beyond reproach. No, the problem must be you!” Terrible.

    I’ve heard about related incidents of inability to listen and victim/patient blaming with psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists (usually male, but sometimes female), but having a female gyno do something like that was a new one on me. I don’t think it’s male doctor thing, per se either. It’s doctor privilege thing. Doctor entitlement. “I am the one in the white coat, with the medical degree on the wall, you’re the one in the paper gown on the table. I am an expert, you’re just a (dumb) patient who is coming to me for medical care.” Doctor knows best, so ask your doctor if being forced to receive unneeded and specifically unasked for medical procedures is right for your mental health. Puke!

    I am so sorry that happened to you. What a total lack of compassion and humanity on her part. I’d be terrified to see her again and I hope you have other options available to you. Thank you for sharing this story. Here is hoping for the best for your healing.

  4. get blood drawn to test my TSH, LH, estrogen and prolactin levels
    Yes good idea really, and somehow the blood tests should have been the first port of call rather than invasive prodding (I guess if you had not gone to the gyno before/much, they had to look for intersex condition).

    In trying to determine if it is hormone related (and it probably is, even if polycystic ovaries) then you need the full panel, particularly for thyroid (TSH, T3 and T4) and at the same time estrogen etc, because they do interact, particularly estrogen and thyroid. The levels for thyroid abnormalcy are usually incorrect, with most peeps experiencing dramatic symptoms on ‘the low end of the normal range’. With polycystic ovaries I found a correlation between cysts, high estrogen and low T3, all else fairly normalish.

  5. ms. c, i am linking to this on the radfem HUB mkay? email me if you want.

  6. May I be so bold to inquire into your daily routine and diët habbits ?

  7. I am truly horrified of gynos and pap smears. However, as someone who also doesn’t take part in PIV sex or have any period issues, I don’t feel it is necessary for me to have to endure one (despite alarmist doctors who feel women are “wrong” constantly.)

    But, after reading your experience, my reservations regarding it were confirmed. People who are virgins, or who do not regularly have PIV sex, have told also mentioned how painful a pap is. It can’t be a pleasant experience for those of us who don’t regularly insert objects into our bodies. Just reading about it makes me want to cross my legs really, really tight!! The whole process sounds so bloody invasive and the person who did not ask or warn you about her actions shouldn’t be performing these “exams”

    To add one more point – recently, a friend of mine, who is a legal adult, was refused birth control. The doctor informed her she would “require” a pap smear in order to get the Pill – she left empty handed, as she was not expecting to get her first pap smear when she thought she had a right to access contraceptives (it is 2011!) It blows my mind how much bullshit the medical community can get away with their constant need to medicalize women’s bodies. To add, you made a great point about birth control pills – doctors always rush to throw the Pill at every female who walks in their office, even when they don’t have PIV sex and thus are extremely unlikely to develop PIV-caused illnesses such as the Human papillomavirus and the resulting cancer and genital warts.

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