Last year my best friend’s son was sick, and I volunteered to take him to the pediatrician. Even though he is a very brave 6 year old, getting a test strip shoved down your nostril would make anyone cry. The most interesting part of the trip was his pediatrician, whom I will now refer to as Dr. P; a wonderfully kind man with remarkable bedside manner. Dr. P intersperses his exams with magic tricks that seemed to alleviate the anxiety of having a tongue depressor hurled toward your face. His style was very impressive and downright enjoyable.
A few weeks later, my best friend and I were out to eat. She stepped away for a moment only to return a few minutes later with a conservative looking, Asian-Indian man. She introduced him to me and mentioned he was one of the other doctors in her son’s pediatric office. I will now refer to him as Dr. Stoic. She began telling him about my visit with Dr. P.
“Is he the one that does magic tricks?” He asked. “Yes,” I said. “It was awesome.” Dr. Stoic shook his head a little and replied, “Yeah, that guy makes the rest of us look bad.” I laughed and shrugged, “Well, I guess it’s all perspective.” He looked at me a little puzzled, so I explained, “I’m just saying it is a good thing he didn’t go into gynecology because who wants someone pulling a bunny out of their vagina?” My humor was lost on Dr. Stoic, but I stand by my thought process.
I tell you this to explain the importance of being comfortable talking about the female anatomy and your body in general. Obtaining knowledge is the first step to becoming more comfortable with any subject matter. A healthy and medically accurate dose of sex education will do so many things to directly improve the lives of our young people, but I am talking about the priceless, indirect effects. If we take the shame out of the name, we can have honest conversations with doctors, partners, and our children. So let’s all say it together… Penis, Penis, Penis. Vagina, Vagina, Vagina. Feel better?
A few months ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. We have a good diagnosis that requires only 6 chemo treatments, but it has opened up an unforeseen, new world of information flowing through my family. We had no family history, but since her diagnosis I am now placed into a new category of preventative measures and discussions.
There is one particular discussion that is burned into my brain. It was not with my doctor but with my dad. A conservative, but hilarious 65 year old minister felt it was important enough to set any embarrassment aside to tell his only daughter about signs and symptoms to watch out for. I am sure he felt weird telling me “your mom’s nipple inverted”, but I am eternally grateful he did. (So, ladies and lovers, watch for nipple inversions. The more you know!)
My brother and I have always considered our family to be pretty open about discussing sex, our bodies, etc., but I am absolutely certain that it paved the way for the fatherly advice that could one day save my life. After all I have been through with my crappy organs, I know all-too-well that the absolute, number one, best advocate for your health is you. I don’t think too many people would admit it, but I am pretty sure we have all wanted to ask our doctor a question but didn’t for fear of sounding stupid. Take some advice from your friend, Mac. You are the doctor’s customer. If they shame you or make you feel stupid, tell them to stick it up their copay. J
There are far too many organizations and institutions that forbid even asking questions about sex or related subject matter. I am a brilliant woman, but after all these years, the “ignorance is bliss” thought process still mystifies me. This is not only ignorant, it’s dangerous.
You may not be comfortable saying “vagina bunny” out lout in public like me, but please stop letting a little embarrassment prevent you from advocating for yourself or your loved ones. Ask your questions and seek trustworthy answers. I promise that sticking up for yourself will bring sweet, sweet vindication and a healthier, happier result.