Growing up, all of us become aware of our changing bodies, especially women. Hitting puberty, I remember, was a strange feeling. Wearing a bra seemed like another task on my to-do list and don’t even get me started on the period thing.
It was a week after my 22nd birthday, me and my friends were hanging out and randomly, one of my friend’s said, “I got my first vaginal exam yesterday”. There was silence like I had never experienced before. “My mother took me to her gyno. It was weird!”. Then ensued a conversation about what happened, and what all questions she was asked. The conversation scared me by the minute.
Little did I know that it was a matter of days before I stepped into the same boat. So one day, my mom sat me down and told me that I was going to have my first vaginal exam the next day. I guess she read my freaked out expression and went on to explain that it’s a normal health care procedure, to make sure that my lady parts were healthy and disease free. Did that calm me down? Nope!
So here is the catch, my mom is a gynaecologist. So the concept of “going” to a gynecologist did not really exist in my case. My friend’s account of her visit had weirded me out and the fact that my own mother was going to be literally invading my vagina, was a tad bit too freakishly awkward! But could I help it? Nope!
The next morning she took me to her clinic. As soon as I entered, the smell of medicines and injections that filled the air made my stomach twist and turn from the inside. She took me to what is called a labor room and handed me a loosely fitted gown and asked me to change. As soon as she shut the door and left, a thousand thoughts filled my head. Do I take off just my pants? Do I have to take off my underwear?! And what about my bra? Oh my mom is going to see me like this! Ew, ew, ew!
So I finally got changed, and sat down on the examination table. Within a few minutes, my mom came back wearing the doctor’s robes and armed with gloves. She asked me to lie down and put my feet on the stirrups. And boy, that was awkward! My mind was like “Don’t look mom, don’t look, don’t look!”. “Relax yourself, it’s all right”, she said, again almost reading me spot on. So I did.
She first examined the outer part, and that relaxed me a little more. And then she picked up what looked like a weird (and kind of scary) instrument, called a speculum, inserted it into my vagina and then opened it exposing the insides. That didn’t hurt, but the idea of someone, and that someone being my mom, exploring me down there was sending me into little spells of panic!
After she removed the speculum, I heaved a sigh of relief - but I think I was too quick because soon enough she brought a brush like thing and told me that she was going to take a few cell samples from my vagina to check for any abnormalities. So I lay back as she scraped my cervix with the brush, which felt like an ant bite. “Now it's over! Phew!” I thought. Again, too soon.
“I am going to do a bimanual exam now, relax and don’t move too much” she said, and then inserted two fingers inside my vagina and gently pressed down on the outside with the other hand.
By now I was looking up at the ceiling thinking all kinds of things - what am I going to eat for lunch, what movie I hate, why does my teacher always wear black, literally anything!
“Okay, it’s done. It’s all good” she said smiling at me. I visibly sighed and she laughed at my reaction. I have had more such exams and all of them have been done by my mom, but now it doesn’t feel so weird. I had forgotten that she had already seen every part of me as a kid, so I didn’t really have to feel all uncomfortable and awkward.
It’s really not all that bad. A tad bit awkward yes, at first. But a vaginal check up every once in awhile is important - so running away from it may not be such a good idea!