A couple of friends shared an article on Facebook from Warped Speed that claims to tell you whether you're a “nightmare client” for your gynecologist if you have habits that they “hate.”
At first I thought that the article was a joke. Sadly it’s not, but it does give us a good opportunity to clear up some myths and misconceptions of what kind of treatment you deserve when you head to the gyno.
The first “nightmare” are patients who cancel because they have their periods.
While you don’t have to cancel an appointment just because you’re bleeding, you may want to and that’s OK. It’s possible that blood can make it more difficult to get a clear Pap smear. If the idea of getting an inconclusive Pap smear and having to go back for another appointment is your nightmare, then rescheduling is an appropriate choice.
It’s also possible that you feel like hammered crap and don’t want someone shoving a speculum into you (in a way that can increase the cramps that are already leading you to hug a heating pad like it’s the fluffiest puppy ever) and canceling is also a reasonable choice in that situation. Try to respect your doctor’s time and give as much notice as you can, but know that there are far worse things than cancelling an appointment.
The second client that gynos apparently “hate” is someone who is scared.
Apparently, gynecologists are also heartless monsters (or maybe the article is just legitimately terrible, I’m feeling like it’s the latter). There are so many reasons that someone might be scared at the gynecologist: past sexual trauma, past experiences (and/or current fear) of ableism, fatphobia, racism, homophobia, transphobia, slut shaming, or other types of oppression that can mess up your medical care.
If your doctor isn’t willing to provide compassionate care, including reassuring and supporting you, then they are incompetent and undeserving of you as a patient. If you are able, I would suggest telling them that it’s not you, it’s them and finding another doctor ASAP (if your area isn’t chock full ‘o gynos, remember that often a family physician can perform many – though not all – of the procedures that gynecologists can). If for whatever reason you can’t change doctors, at least remember that it’s not you, it’s definitely them.
The next “nightmare” patient is the one who brings a friend or significant other.
This is pure cow bullshit. If you are more comfortable having a friend/significant other/advocate at your doctor's appointment, whether it’s because the doctor stresses you out or it helps you remember what the doctor said ... or if you bring someone with more relative privilege because it tends to force doctors to treat you better, that person should be completely welcome because this is your appointment. If a doctor objects to their patient having an advocate, I start to wonder really hard exactly what they are planning to do to the patient.
The next thing that gynecologists apparently “hate” is if you Google your symptoms.
Heaven forbid that a patient use the resources available to them to be empowered. Unfortunately, in this day and age of doctors who see us for 5 minutes or less because they are trying to make a living in a horrible healthcare system, this is hardly a choice anymore. It is often left up to the patient to arrive with some knowledge so that they can make the most of their four and a half minutes with the doctor. This goes double if you’re a fat patient who is likely to be blown off with a diagnosis of “fat” and a prescription of “diet” whether you are dealing with an infection or holding a severed limb.
The next bit is just pure misinformation.
The article warns folks, “Don’t visit your gyno if you notice your sexual appetite decreasing. Sex drive is an emotion thing, not a physical thing. Get a shrink.”
Nope, nope, nopity, NOPE.
While I’m a strong advocate of therapy and psychiatric care, there are definitely physical reasons that you may experience a decrease in sexual appetite. It’s fine to start this discussion with your gynecologist and get other recommendations from them (and *gasp* the internet) as needed.
There is some stuff I agree with:
- DON'T be afraid to be specific about the gender you prefer.
- DON'T put off seeing the doctor, especially if something doesn’t seem right.
- DO talk to your gyno about safer sex.
- DON'T be afraid to ask any questions.
And in the course of doing these things, remember that you deserve to be treated well, treated with respect, treated without bigotry and to have your body and your wishes respected by your doctor.