March 1, 2009

Just How Violating a Pap Smear Really Is...

So I don't know if it's normal practice for a mother to take her daughter to her first pap smear. I'm not even sure if it's normal practice for a mother to sit her daughter down and explain the who what when where whys and hows of a pap smear. I suppose it all depends on the reason and the age a girl starts these exams. My mother and I still have not had that talk, but it seems like a moot point now and I'd probably shut that conversation down pretty fast if she ever brought it up. It's too late for that discussion.

I had heard that you're supposed to start them at 18 if you hadn't already for whatever reason, so I got all the preparation fear stories from my friend. That should have been enough to put it off for awhile, but I have closet hypochondria for cancer, and I figured it can't be found if you don't let them search for it so I bit the bullet and went. I did however make an appointment with a female doctor who basically told me she wouldn't do them in the future if I stayed over with my other doctor for everything else. I don't blame her really because I bet as a female general practitioner, she got stuck with an exorbitant amount of pap smears, especially from first timers. So I obliged since all I needed her for was to continue writing prescriptions for my would be pizza face that my other doctor had been successfully treating.

Let me just say I have always always always preferred going to the dentist over the doctor because you don't have to strip at the dentist. Unless you have one of those creepy dentists that knocks you out and feels you up while you're out. But at least you're unconscious for that and you don't necessarily know it happened. (not that it makes it right) I'm just saying that stripping at the doctor was always what I feared most about going, and I could count on not having to do so at the dentist since we didn't have pervy dentists, that we knew of. So you can imagine the shear horror I felt not only having to strip, but having cold, metal salad tongs go where cold salad tongs where never intended to go. Well I suppose this might be someone's idea of a good time but it's not mine.

This is a complete violation of my privacy and dignity not to forget comfort. But this is all in the name of prevention right? So we should continue the practice of letting doctors violate us in this manner right? I still can't get used to it and dread it every time I go. I sure wish they'd find a better way to check us ladies out.

I've always wondered what the doctors that perform them are thinking. I always kind of thought when they look at the chart when they enter the room the thought runs through their head "dammit not another pap smear today, I've seen more vaginas than I care to see in my life time?" Or something along those lines. That's why had I become a doctor, I would have specialized in an area far from the hootie not requiring the nekkedivity of any of my patients.

I know guy's don't have it all good at the doctor, but at least they don't have salad tongs stuck in any of their orifices on a regular basis and at such a young age. So not only do we have to pop out babies through a tiny canal, we have to get violated on a regular basis, and a period every month (I don't know any woman that loves it, but if they do they are nutso crazy and I absolutely can't relate to them on any level). I suppose men have to put up with the mood swings and hormonal crazies that many women take out on them. Maybe that's punishment enough. I don't know though because that's a lot for a woman to tolerate. I suppose we can be a lot for them to tolerate.

Maybe this is a topic not meant to be discussed by mothers and daughters. Maybe you don't fully appreciate the horror that is a pap smear if your mother is involved. Or perhaps the horror is exemplified by the preparation and presence of your mother. So maybe my experience could have been much worse. I choose to believe this, for me anyways.


14 comments:

John said...

What's the big deal? So the doctor see you nude. So what. And why does it have to be a female doctor? A male doctor is still a doctor. Or are you some kind of uptight prude?

Amber Sunshine said...

Yes I am an uptight prude about pap smears...and I'm quite ok with that...If I let a man violate I might start hating men and treating them badly...because women are just that crazy...might I suggest you go get one before you mock uptight prudishness...

JR said...

Pap Smears save lives. I don't see any violation in that.

Amber Sunshine said...

Wow...so you missed the part where i get them so i believe that they save lives...I just love how the intended humor seems to be lost on everyone commenting on this post...perhaps it's a lost cause this week....

Lisa said...

I bet the docs are thinking about why the old people on Survivor almost always get kicked off first. If I were an OB/GYN, that's what I would do. Seems like a perfect time to contemplate all the happenings on my reality tv shows.

Anonymous said...

Im so glad you are discussing this topic. I am 21 and today i went for my first smear..UGHH i freaked out, cried and had to leave with a vicodin prescription...which is pretty straaaaight. but, the point of my frustration is that I, like you, feel as though i am being violated, and sexually assaulted. I feel overly anxious due to the vulnerability of the situation, and all of this despite the truth of the matter- the Test is meant to protect. Its not even like ive never had sex. it is just that i have trouble being prodded and fingered by a metal prong.
Simply said -- i feel for you.

ashlie said...

I get the humor! Your posts are great.

ashlie said...

I get the humor! Your posts are great.

Anonymous said...

I got my first pap smear yesterday. I'm not a big crying type, but I cried like a baby. It was the most tramatizing experience of my life. I'm 18 and I've only had one partner for the year I've been sexually active. The breast exam that went with the pap smear was simply awkward; but I dealt with it just fine. The metal "spectrum" upset me and that was bad enough. But the worst part for me, that has left me horrified and with nightmares, is what came next. Nobody told me going into this that the doctor was going to shove her hand all the way up to basically my stomach. EXCUSE ME?! Why does nobody see this as completely violating!! I cried so hard. Today being the day after, I keep reliving it and I don't want anyone to touch me and I just feel disgusted.
Why can't they figure out an alternative to being fingered to test for Cancer. I should not be subjected to this, especially at my age I don't think. Not to mention that I was pretty much forced to get one if I wanted birth control. That just seems wrong to me. I try to be save and prevent a child at this time and my life and what am I forced to do? Be humiliated, violated, and tramatized. Somebody really needs to come up with another plan.

Eliz52 said...

Go to blogcritics and unnecessary pap smears - there are lots of informative articles linked from the site. Also, Dr Joel Sherman's medical privacy blog under women's privacy issues. See research by Dr Raffle and Richard deMay.
There is a lot you don't know about this testing and many are concerned at the risks of this testing, the limited benefits and the complete lack of respect for informed consent. When 99% of women derive no benefit from smears, but all face a very high risk of false positives and completely unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment and biopsies, you need to be careful with this test.
Testing before 25 is unsafe and unreliable...and testing 5 yearly reduces the risk but still gives great protection against a rare cancer. (if you choose to have smears)
Dr's cannot demand pap smears in return for birth control, that is illegal and against the Patient Bill of Rights. Challenge the Dr or report him/her.
As a low risk woman I made an informed decision not to screen many years ago.

diane said...

i find the test invasive, i have a
problem that causes me to get very tense if i attempt a pap smear.

its not worth the trauma it causes me.

they do need a better method of testing.

Chirly92arg said...

For years ther has been alternatives to smear test, for example, the CSA blood test. If youwant furhter info on this subject, please join this facebook group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/106150077602/

Eliz52 said...

Take a look at the new Dutch program, it highlights the harmful excess in most countries...most women are not even at risk from cervix cancer and pap testing just carries risk for them...from over-treatment and excess biopsies. The Dutch will offer women 5 hrHPV primary triage tests at ages 30,35,40,50 and 60 and only the roughly 5% who are HPV positive and at risk will be offered a 5 yearly pap test. MOST women will be HPV negative, not currently at risk and they will be offered the remaining HPV primary tests and there is a reliable HPV self-test, the Delphi Screener. Those HPV negative and no longer sexually active or confidently monogamous may choose to stop all further testing.

There was never a need to worry and harm so many as Finland and the Dutch have shown with their long standing 6-7 pap test programs, 5 yearly from 30 to 60, the Finns have the lowest rates of this rare cancer in the world, the Dutch have no more than Australia and probably less than the States, but Finland and the Dutch have much lower referral rates (over-treatment rates)
IMO, pap testing has been used, especially in the States and Australia, to create a vast and hugely profitable industry in the over-treatment of CIN and women have paid a very high price with their health and quality of life. I'm SO grateful that I got to the facts decades ago and have always refused to test, an informed decision...it has been horrible to watch the damage, worry and fear caused by this program.

Women will have to demand smarter testing and some respect for informed consent...vested interests run deep and will not give up their highly profitable turf without a fight. If this testing were about women's healthcare we'd have evidence based testing, not serious over-screening that leads straight to potentially harmful over-treatment...these programs do not benefit women.
HPV Today, Edition 24, sets out the new Dutch program and the Delphi Bioscience site covers the self-test option.

Emma Jimenez said...

I've only had to get 2 exams down there. I just went today for the 2nd time and I was completely traumatized. I feel as though I could shower and never be clean. I don't like unknown people poking and prodding down there. It's unacceptable and I had a full blown panic attack during which continued after and is going on as I'm writing this. I don't know how I'm going to have kids. I've already decided I want them c-section only and even then I'm going to refuse them looking at my parts. I don't care how badly they need to. I'm honestly so traumatized by this I feel like I'm not even going to go when pregnant even if I need to. It's horrible and uncalled for.