Today is National Awkward Moments day, lets take a look at some awkward moments that have taken place in an OB-GYN office.
Talking to women one of the least favorite places they want to voluntarily go is to the OB-GYN. The entire experience can be awkward. The typical way that it goes is walk in, wait and look around at all the other women you know are going back to do the same thing: have their vaginas inspected. Your name is called, and you do the norm: get your vitals taken, get weighed, and go through your normal medical history. Up next it is time to get undressed from the bottom half down and put that “sheet,” a paper piece that resembles a sheet, over your bottom half to cover you. Then, it is time to wait. Wait and look around. You might see a model of a uterus with all the anatomically correct pieces. You might see posters about a variety of things; safe sex is a poster which is usually there and hopefully you will see an educational poster about HPV in the room you are sitting in.
As you sit there you think about all the things that you’d rather be doing, and the list is LONG because it is essentially any place other than your OB-GYN. Ladies – it is important to know that sitting in that uncomfortable sheet waiting for your annual exam, Pap test, and/or HPV test can actually save your life. The Pap test is developed as a screening tool for cervical cancer; the HPV test is developed to determine if you have the high-risk strands of HPV which are linked to cancer. These tests can help save your life. They can lead to early detection, treatment, and removal of pre-cancerous cells. However, it doesn’t mean it will never be awkward. Erica Frazier Stum interviewed some Cervivors to see what type of awkward experiences happened related to cervical cancer.
Cervivor Carolann shared with us her experiences prior to her cervical cancer diagnosis. She had seen doctors on multiple occasions due to discharge. She was told time and time again that the discharge was okay as long as it was clear and scent free. Eventually she was having to wear pads everyday just to cope with the discharge. Years later she was diagnosed with cervical cancer adenocarcinoma, which is a cancer that grows from the top of the cervix (near the uterus) down into the vagina. Her diagnosis wasn’t without an awkward moment either! She went in to see her gynecologist thinking that she was having a routine appointment and the she heard “I have some unexpected news.” Carolann immediately said “You better not tell me I’m pregnant!” What followed was an awkward moment of silence and the doctor said, “Um no, you have cancer.” Imagine the swing of feelings in that room!
Cervivor Paula was diagnosed with carcinoma in situ (CIS); due to this diagnosis she had to have a procedure called a cold knife cone biopsy. At her follow up appointment, she was cleared to go back to life as normal: exercising, sexual intercourse, and trying to conceive a child. It was her first time on the treadmill that an exceptionally awkward moment happened. She was just starting to walk at the gym and warm up when she was increasing her speed on the treadmill she started getting cramps. Those cramps went from nothing to unbearable in a matter of seconds. She describes her awkward experience as being like she was in a slow-motion scene of a movie with everyone staring at her as she hunched her way out of the gym. After visiting with another doctor, it turns out her original advice was not accurate. She would now be waiting months to go back to her full exercise regimen, sex, and trying to conceive.
Reading through the comments of things that women heard or have said in the ob-gyn office or gynecologic oncologist office is like a strand of awkward moments; some of these quotes really stand out:
- How’s your vagina today?
- Watch out – don’t kick me now!
- It is okay to have sex during radiation, you won’t be a glow worm.
- So, here is your dilator. You can make it as fun as you’d like.
- Everything is looking great under the sheet!
- So, how has your sex life been since treatment?
I also would be remiss if I didn’t tell an awkward story from my own time in the ob-gyn office pre-cancer diagnosis. I headed in for a checkup and the light, you know the light, the light that has to point directly at your lady business wasn’t working. The nurse practitioner was not phased, after a quick comment about them needing to replace that light someone pulled out a cell phone just to use that light and check me out. As if that situation couldn’t get more awkward the light was stuck on strobe. It was literally like my vagina was at a rave. I still laugh about it now, that is how ridiculous it was.
However, we would all go through these awkward moments again and encourage you to go in and see your doctor for your annual exam! Ask if it is time for a Pap and/or HPV test. Also, remember that any change in your body means you should call your doctor. If your doctor dismisses that change – find another doctor.
Erica Frazier Stum is a 5 year cervical cancer thriver who is living her life with cancer. Erica is the Lead Cervivor Ambassador, an author, and she continues to advocate for awareness related to cervical cancer and clinical trials. Read more about her story here: www.cervivor.org/erica