Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I think the largest psychological fear that humans, especially women go through, is that of having their body invaded. It is human nature to be uncomfortable with being touched in any way, shape or form by a stranger, sometimes even family members, depending on their relation to you.

I also think we, as women, have gotten to a point where we need to ask ourselves how much are willing to tolerate in order to be healthy. What we probably dread more than anything is the PAP test, also known as the pelvic exam. You can’t walk into Planned Parenthood or many other gynecology offices without being bombarded with the suggestion that you must have a pelvic exam. Women who have not had a pelvic exam, get what I consider to be very harsh and forceful reactions from their doctor. Reactions that make it that much less comfortable to consider being examined by that doctor. A reaction which makes it hard to trust that doctor with your body.

I personally do not like being examined by doctors in any method. I do not like being touched, partly because of hypersensitivity but also because I do not trust people in general. I’m not planning to get over that, because aside from hypersensitivity being a neurological problem that cannot be fixed, I’ve been through enough things with people in my life to make me very unwilling to trust others. In fact, there are about three people in this world that I trust completely. People do some horrible, nasty things to others and as a woman I have had enough of it.

There are only two people in this world who are allowed to touch my vagina. Me, and the man I love.

Gynecologists require women to have pelvic exams before taking birth control. They require women to have pelvic exams if they are sexually active. They require women to have pelvic exams to find various health problems, some of which can be deadly to a woman. There is only one reason to not have a pelvic exam, and I think it is a very legitimate reason: Discomfort.

If we are going to live in a world where we want to promote the safety of a woman’s body, and allow her to make choices on what she does with her body, then we need to include pelvic exams. There is a mental safety here that needs to be considered. Some women just do not feel comfortable being touched and they have the right to say no, I do not want to be touched.

Stop trying to force women to have exams they don’t want to have. Setting aside the need to find sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, at the end of it all, pelvic exams can make a woman feel degraded, demoralized and uncomfortable. Especially for women who are victims of rape. According to more than one OB GYN that I have spoken to, the results you can get from a pelvic exam, minus the PAP smear, can also be found with a pelvic ultrasound. Since we can determine the gender of a unborn fetus, I’m sure we can see a cancerous tumor on an ultrasound screen. I have had a pelvic ultrasound done, and in addition to it being very comfortable I could tell my sex organs are healthy. (There is a perk here to being able to see what your uterus and ovaries look like, we ought to know what we look like inside and out).

If you think you can handle it, get a pelvic exam. If you know it will make you too uncomfortable, request a pelvic ultrasound instead. A pelvic ultrasound is especially worth it, if you have had the Gardasil vaccine. Gardasil, if given before age 25, prevents infection of most strands of HPV, the virus which causes cervical cancer. Pelvic ultrasounds should not be outright refused by your gynecologist and if they are refused, I say go to a different place. This is about what makes you feel like you are being treated well. I feel like a doctor who is forceful and lacks understanding is not someone that I want to trust with my body. Pelvic exams should be approached with more sensitivity, and they should be optional when seeking usage of contraceptives.

On the flip side, my mother is a survivor of uterine cancer. I have met many women who have had both uterine and cervical cancer. Should a woman’s discomfort come before the threat of cancer? That’s for you to decide, after all, it’s your body.

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