Reflections on Going to the Gyno

I wonder what it’s like to be a gynecologist. I’m sure the experience varies wildly depending on your type of practice, geographic location, specialization, and so on, but every time I go to visit my gynecologist I just can’t help thinking that the job must be joyful and joyless at the same time. Joyless because there you are, consigned to look at female reproductive bits all day almost every day in the most sterile, clinical environment imaginable, which to me is kind of the opposite of when those bits are at their best. But then again, the knowledge that you are doing much good for many women by keeping them reproductively healthy and counseling them through the difficult terrain of womanhood must be a source of much pride, too.
I mean, as a woman who’s knee deep in smut and butt-cheek deep in constantly thinking about sex, and also neck-deep in loving women, I find vulvas, vaginas, and all that goes along with them totally awesome and fascinating, but just like reviewing porn for years left me a little “meh” on actually watching it for personal pleasure, I can’t imagine that looking at the least sexy possible version of those parts on exam table every day wouldn’t put a bit of a dull pallor on your feelings about womanly goodies.
But then again, being an expert on some of the most mysterious parts of the human anatomy must be very empowering. Helping women navigate the numerous confusing twists and turns of having internal sex organs isn’t just a job–it’s a moral calling. There are few things in our world we know less about than how to understand the female body–I think we probably know more about the surface of the moon and the bottom of the Mariana Trench than we do, collectively, about why our bodies do what they do on a daily basis. “Does it look funny?” “Is it supposed to smell like that?” “Is that supposed to be this color?” “Is something wrong with me?” These are questions I find myself asking about my own body almost every day and having almost no way of answering on my own… and I know a LOT about human sexual anatomy, biology, evolution, and etc. I imagine for women with less research under their belts, the things going on under their underpants are even more confusing and sometimes terrifying.
Going to the gynecologist only once or twice a year for the most part, a lot of women end up sitting around worrying about their private parts for months at a time, and the visit itself ends up being less of a physical examination than a laundry list of anxieties and paranoias. Gynecologists are less MDs than therapists for a lot of us, and especially when the news isn’t good, they’re witnesses to, I’m sure, numerous spectacular emotional breakdowns, tears, and fears. They deal with the results of sexual trauma, lost and unwanted pregnancies, emotional dysfunctions, and countless other difficult-to-navigate areas of what goes into being a woman in this world. And all while smiling, nodding, and trying to make the speculum as comfortable as a device designed specifically to be uncomfortable can possibly be. The best of gynecologists can make a visit into a warm, rich, educational, and safe experience–a feat not to be underestimated, given that it’s constituted of a nervous waiting room experience, embarrassing gown malfunctions, breast groping, and all sorts of unpleasant pokes, prods, and insertions. People lie to you, get embarrassed, blurt out things you don’t need or want to hear, cry, giggle uncontrollably, over-prepare, under-hygiene themselves… God.
It’s got to be a thankless job. I wonder if there’s a National Gynecologist Appreciation Day. There damn well should be.
That being said, I just got back from mine. She’s great. But I am SO going to take a shower and wrap myself up in a bathrobe and feel quietly, mildly, uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. Where’d I put my favorite tea cup?

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