Why Must a Pap Smear Be So Awkward?

Pap smear. The very phrase can make a vagina break out in a cold sweat. It’s not that a pap smear is the worst thing that could happen to a vagina, but it’s certainly not the most pleasant, either.

First of all, there’s the paper gown with the gap in front. It’s hard to call that couture. But then insult is added to injury when the paper sheet comes out so that you can cover yourself from the waste down. Hey – if someone is going to be all up in my vagina, I want to see what they’re doing.

Second, I hate scooting to the end of the table. “Just a little closer. You’re not quite there yet.” It always feels like I’m ready to fall off of the table, but the doctor is always telling me, “just a bit more.” There has to be a less awkward way of doing the pap smear, one that doesn’t require me to confront my fear of falling.

Then there’s the stirrups. My doctor politely covers the stirrups with oven mitts so that patients don’t have to touch cold metal. But there’s still something a little off-putting where oven mitts and my vagina are concerned. I’m not a cake coming out of an oven. Do we have to use the stirrups?

Last, but not least, is the dreaded speculum – those metal pliers that look like duck lips. They spread your labia apart so that the doctor can get a real good luck up inside your vagina. But is a speculum really necessary? [Read more...]

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