Psychological Harms of Pelvic Exams

There is a lack of research on the harmful psychological effects of pelvic exams.  The lack of research highlights how the harmful effects from pelvic exams have largely been ignored, or have been considered not important enough to warrant investigation.  The small amount of research that exists has mainly been conducted with the goal of addressing women’s “anxieties” with the exam, and has been done for the sole purpose of learning how to harness women’s compliance.

In spite of the lack of recognition given to the psychological harms of pelvic exams by the medical community, many of us do experience harm.  Many of the comments from women on this blog and on other sites have revealed that the psychological effects are often significant and can have a detrimental impact on our lives.  In addition, the psychological effects can be difficult to understand, clarify, and articulate.  This post is a compilation of my own and other women’s experiences of pelvic exams presented in a way that attempts to clarify an issue that warrants more attention.

Psychological Harm #1: Trauma

A woman’s first pelvic exam can be traumatizing, especially if she is unaware of the exam’s invasive nature and/or is coerced into the exam while seeing her doctor for a different reason.  In these cases the woman is unprepared and is not expecting an invasive exam to take place.  In addition, many doctors do not fully explain what the exam involves, explain the reasons for the exam, or offer the woman a choice prior to proceeding.

Here is what one woman has to say about her first pelvic exam:  It’s humiliating, degrading, and painful. The first time I had a pap smear done, I was so traumatized, I now have to take prescription Xanax to avoid having panic attacks when I get pap smears done now. And I’m only 24. How many more am I going to have to have for the rest of my life? What am I going to do when I want to have children and every doctor wants to shove his/her fingers and tools inside me? (Scared Guest)  via Women Against Stirrups – What’s your opinion on the pelvic exam/gynecology?.

Psychological Harm #2: Loss of Control

I can think of no position more vulnerable and undignified than naked with legs wide apart, feet up in stirrups, and a fully clothed doctor standing over me.  Feelings of vulnerability and a loss of control in this position are intensified when I am asymptomatic and do not wish to have a pap test/pelvic exam – but have been aggressively pressured and coerced to the point where I feel I have no choice.

Here is another woman’s thoughts on loss of control and vulnerability:  I am 21 and today i went for my first smear..UGHH i freaked out, cried and had to leave with a vicodin prescription…which is pretty straaaaight. but, the point of my frustration is that I, like you, feel as though i am being violated, and sexually assaulted. I feel overly anxious due to the vulnerability of the situation . . . Its not even like ive never had sex. it is just that i have trouble being prodded and fingered by a metal prong. (Anonymous)  via Awkward Things My Mother Never Taught Me: Just How Violating a Pap Smear Really Is….

Psychological Harm #3: Dissociation

Women have been led to believe that a pelvic exam is a vital part of their health for so long that many no longer question it, or feel they have a choice.  When a woman feels she has no choice but to undergo a violently invasive exam she will often develop a sense of detachment, or numbness, in an effort to distance herself from what is happening to her own body.

Here is what Claire T. Porter has to say:  “Closely connected with the absence of self is the dispensing of existence experienced by women… Women undergoing these procedures report a sense of nonbeing” (Raymond 1993, xv). I cannot help feeling that my body, especially the most private areas of it, has been taken away from me. This surgeon and the horny resident both assess my pubic area. Now the vision of my genitals is held in their brains. I feel I possess my sex less and less and feel them both smug in the fact that they own it. What a power trip for them. Bastards.  via Women Against Stirrups – I’m Taking Back My Pussy!.

Psychological Harm #4: Invalidation

The value women place on the privacy of their vagina is in no way reflected by many practitioners’ attitudes.  There is an expectation that we are supposed to be fine with this type of exam.  Yet have we not always been taught to keep our legs together, sit with our legs crossed, and to not let strangers touch us?  The role we are expected to assume during day to day life versus the role we are expected to adopt during a pelvic exam are vastly different.  How a pelvic exam feels and how we are told it is supposed to feel presents a gap of huge proportions.  The lack of acknowledgment for how we feel confuses us, belittles us, and invalidates us. We lose a sense of stability, trust, and safety.

Chrissy (UK) says: This all goes with the ‘get used to it, you’re a woman’ attitude, or ‘I’m a doctor and therefore entitled to see and touch your body’. I don’t know what they are taught when they are medical students, but there is no way they understand what it is like for a woman to be exposed and spreadeagled on an examination table whist they rummage around in the most intimate part of our body. I still remember my first pelvic examination. I was 17 and the (male) doctor forced my knees apart, as I wouldn’t comply with his verbal instructions to spread my legs. I felt violated – I WAS violated . . .  October 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Psychological Harm #5: Dehumanization

All women have a right to privacy and dignity, except of course when they are in the presence of a doctor.  The name assigned to the “pelvic” exam is carefully nonsexual and yet what takes place during the exam is something more intimate than most women would allow a spouse or lover to do.  It is cruel to expect women to ever become used to this type of extreme exposure, and it is inaccurate to assume women will become desensitized over time.  To expect women to get used to the exam is cruel and dehumanizing.

Yazzmyne says: . . . I also believe that these gyn exams are rape even when a woman consents to it. She may verbally and rationally agree to it, but her body screams NO and most women do not listen or respect their own bodily feelings in this context. With all the fear mongering about cancer and the fear for the exam itself, she can’t even make a rational decision (and not that it has to be a rational one, because rationality is used to justify the whole ordeal and rationalize her feelings of violation away) because the mind is locked in fear and can’t think clear anymore and this is exactly what doctors want. There are so many benefits for them to keep using the medieval pelvic exam:

to satisfy their sexual lusts
for the powertrip
for the money
and the fear this exam generates in women also keeps them traumatized, in fear, unable to think CRITICAL about the so called need for them   October 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Psychological Harm #6: Distrust

A lasting, pervasive sense of distrust is likely to form when one is violated by someone in a position of trust.  The distrust that results from negative experiences during pelvic exams can present a lasting barrier to a woman’s access to health services.  Women who are traumatized by their physician’s practices related to pelvic exams are far less likely to trust the medical system as a whole.

FerretGirl01 says: I have a terrible fear of the OB/GYN mainly because my very first pelvic exam was so traumatic. I was a virgin and it hurt so much that I cried. And even after I told the doctor to stop, she kept trying to collect the sample after telling me she would stop any time. I felt violated…scared…and I hurt so bad I had to take pain relievers. I was bleeding when I got home and discovered my “cherry” had been popped because the doctor was too rough and rushed with the exam. That made me terrified of ever getting one again . . . via Fear of Gynecological Exam – Women’s Health – MedHelp.

Psychological Harm #7: Fear

There are all kinds of fears that go along with this exam.  There is fear of the consequences of refusing, fear of the consequences of complying, and fear of the consequences of speaking out.

Anonymous says:  I’m 22 and I haven’t been to the gyno! Every time I even think about it I get so freaked out and sick. I’m not scared of being in pain – I’m scared of personal intrusion, of being on my back and not having control. Every time I think about it, it makes me feel like it would be some kind of assault, because I really **don’t want** it to happen, and going would just be me trying to get over my fears and knowing that it’s something I need to do. I’m terrified of anyone touching me when I know that I’m forcing myself to let them and that I feel so insecure and invaded. I haven’t been sexually abused . . . But I’m just SO.TERRIFIED. via extreme exam anxiety.

AVEN Member says: Doctors are always pressuring their patients to get it done, and instilling fear of cancer to those who refuse. I think they insist more on a pelvic exam than they do on quitting smoking. Yes, I am doing the ‘unspeakable’ and questioning doctors . . .  I think the procedure is inhumane. If you think I just need to suck it up, please listen. This is ranting towards people like that. People that think women just need to “suck it up” or “get over it”.  Rant on Pelvic Exams – Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Psychological Harm #8: Despair

When women repeatedly have their way of understanding the world ignored it can lead to feelings of despair.  When their understanding of what is occurring is discounted and invalidated; when their fears, trauma, and other experiences are ignored, then their place in the world and sense of self can shift.  Women are often left with pervasive feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Anonymous says:  I got my first pap smear yesterday. I’m not a big crying type, but I cried like a baby. It was the most traumatizing experience of my life. I’m 18 and I’ve only had one partner for the year I’ve been sexually active . . . The metal “spectrum” upset me and that was bad enough. But the worst part for me, that has left me horrified and with nightmares, is what came next. Nobody told me going into this that the doctor was going to shove her hand all the way up to basically my stomach. EXCUSE ME?! Why does nobody see this as completely violating!! I cried so hard. Today being the day after, I keep reliving it and I don’t want anyone to touch me and I just feel disgusted . . . I should not be subjected to this, especially at my age I don’t think. Not to mention that I was pretty much forced to get one if I wanted birth control. That just seems wrong to me. I try to be save and prevent a child at this time and my life and what am I forced to do? Be humiliated, violated, and traumatized.   via Awkward Things My Mother Never Taught Me: Just How Violating a Pap Smear Really Is….

Elizabeth says:  On one blog a young woman was so stressed about pap tests she wanted to be knocked out…it’s shocking, she should be told to forget about it and enjoy her life – this testing has robbed so many women from the pleasure of being healthy, young and female and often takes our peace of mind, bodily privacy and dignity, damages our health and lives, destroys relationships and takes the shine off sex, especially after traumatic “treatments” and when women are unable to access the Pill without forced testing…and at age 30 if she’s worried about cc, she could test herself for HPV, but that would be too easy and make too much sense…actually doing what’s best for her, she’ll probably end up being sedated for a pap test…so depressing.  http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/unnecessary-pap-smears/comments-page-175/#comments

In conclusion I would like to say that if you find you have “anxieties” regarding pelvic exams you can take heart because, as you can see, your concerns are valid.   On a brighter note, more women are becoming aware that they have the right to informed consent for screening.  In addition there are now alternative ways to test for cervical cancer, such as the Delphi self-screener, which is available in some countries.  See Singapore – Dutch Collaboration:  http://www.delphi-bioscience.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Media%20Release_March%2026,%202012.pdf

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About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
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635 Responses to Psychological Harms of Pelvic Exams

  1. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Welcome Meno
    I see parallels between pregnancy/childbirth and cancer screening, we’re rarely listened to, the system takes over, others make decisions for us and assume risk on our behalf.
    Also, there’s a cone of silence, the system makes women feel uncomfortable saying anything negative about childbirth or pap testing. Some women fear being judged or trivialized, we’re TOLD a healthy baby is all that matters in the end or a normal pap test or mammogram.
    I’ve always believed the system/medical profession view women as second class citizens, our legal rights don’t really matter, they know best…wrong!

    It’s interesting that occasionally when women feel safe, the truth emerges, sometimes followed by an apology or put down, “I know I’m being silly, but I couldn’t understand why there were so many people standing there watching me give birth”.
    So all the natural and normal feelings we have about our bodily autonomy, privacy and dignity are often lumped together as women being immature, prudish, difficult or perhaps, victims of sexual abuse. We’re so often denied these normal feelings, we’re supposed to be okay allowing open access to our genitals and breasts when the system demands it from us.

    Over the years I’ve heard it so often, certainly, in later years, perhaps because women sensed I might have a sympathetic ear.
    My husband and I decided not to have children, I’m pleased to say that fear did not make that decision for me, I know that’s the case for some women. Of course, I would have approached a pregnancy fearing the worst and hoping for the best. I’d selected an ob-gyn just in case, she was highly recommended by several friends – she was a good doctor, she listened, she didn’t judge, she worked with women and she respected their privacy (as far as possible considering the system often couldn’t care less)
    You’re certainly not alone, but it must feel that way when so many women still IMO, feel like they must just accept poor and disrespectful treatment, just get over it…
    I don’t think you can claim the system is a huge success when a healthy baby leaves the hospital with a damaged mother, and we know some damage lasts forever; both physical, psychological and emotional damage.
    Sites like Birth Trauma help but they’re not really out there, we don’t hear much about this issue anywhere else. It’s the old cone of silence that keeps this abuse in place, but it’s not easy to change attitudes and conduct. I’ve always believed with cancer screening it starts with individual women saying, “No, this is not good enough, I’m a human being, not a body or a target”…

    It’s interesting that the system assumes after giving birth we shouldn’t have a care in the world with pap testing, surely we’re “used” to these exams by now (or we should be if we’re “normal”)

    The reasoning is self-serving, they want compliant women so we need to get over any issues with pap testing, “how will they manage when they have children?”….and if you’ve had children, “well what’s the issue?”…
    So it says to me the system is basically saying women should forget about bodily autonomy, privacy and dignity, it’s supposed to be that our health (and that of our baby) is more important.
    I think it’s more that the system does not respect women and the current approach suits and is accepted by many…so many can’t see the wood for the trees. Consent? Informed consent?
    I think writing about your experience will help you and other women – much more needs to be said about the unacceptable way women are viewed and treated by the system
    All the best

    • Elizabeth, thank you so much for bringing up another important issue with your reference to “birth trauma”. Same as women are supposed to be casual about invasive exams and having childbirth treated like a sideshow, birth trauma doesn’t end in the maternity ward for victims of domestic violence.

      Women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth are often under incredible pressure to give up their babies. The leading cause of death for pregnant women is murder by the men who got them pregnant, including men these pregnant women are married to so it isn’t just a matter of covering up some affair with a pregnant mistress. Women who would do fine as mothers if they had a little help to leave abusive relationships are expected to have babies and then just give them away like their flesh and blood was nothing to them while being told that it was what was best for the baby.

      Frightened battered women are told that some organization will “provide housing” for them. What happens, of course, is that these women are pestered to within inches of their sanity about adoption and what a wonderful “choice” it is. Not that these women are actually being given any choice because the whole point of the “free housing” is to isolate them from anyone who might talk to them about alternatives to lining the pockets of the “counselors”. The possibly of relatives adopting the baby or taking care of the baby for a little while while the mother gets on her feet, with adoption by strangers being reserved for children actually in need of loving homes would just get in the way of the transaction with the strangers lucrative to the “counselors”, who would appreciate payment now please. The fact that the women surrendering against their will most likely never see their children again and often suffer from Post-Traumatic Shock Disorder is not treated as any big deal because adoption is “win-win”. Yeah, well, it is win-win-lose because the person who gives up someone her body has nurtured gets nothing but the pain of loss unless she suffers the vilification reserved for the “selfish” whores who won’t sign away her parental rights.

  2. Mary says:

    I have a pdf I downloaded some time ago about the new cervical cancer screening guidelines from the cancer council in Australia. Anyway, I happened to have a look at it and I am appalled.It says that “women who are invited to have a clinician collected sample(HPV test) and decline will not be eligible for self-collection at that time”. OK so a woman’s HPV status is not really that important after all. A doctor collecting their fee is more important. And it says “women who have tested negative on a self-collected sample should be invited to be retested 5 years later and they should be encouraged to have a clinician collect the sample” . “Encouraged”. Oh and how to they do that? Withhold BCPs?

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Hi Mary
      Yes, more of the same…
      I read a women would have to decline the invasive HPV test for 6 years before she’s be eligible for HPV self-testing. Of course, the angle used is predictable, self-testing is not as reliable as a sample taken by a physician. So they say…

      I don’t think the self-test option (covered by Medicare) will be the Delphi Screener so perhaps, it’s correct that it’s less reliable than a sample taken by a doctor. (I doubt that though…you’re either HPV+ or HPV-, it’s not like interpreting a pap smear)

      The cost of the self-test kit would be a factor but also, if the HPV self-test were promoted as just as reliable as the invasive test, I suspect they’d be a landrush of women after the self-test option. They clearly hope to keep the herd in-tact and just move them over to HPV invasive testing.
      They’ve gone out of their way to cut into online self-testing options, so now if you want to order (and pay) for the Delphi Screener, you have to nominate an Aussie doctor. I’m not sure if they get your results and you have to speak to them, I assume that’s the case, so they get something out of it, keep the woman in the loop, and have an opportunity to dissuade her from further self-testing.
      Vested interests have been making a fortune from this testing so they won’t give that up lightly. Also, the same old attitudes are at work, women are still viewed as fair game, bodies to be ticked off

      There’s no doubt in my mind that the only women who’ll see HPV self-testing are those who buy the test online, or use it overseas or those who stand firm and wait out the 6 years. They obviously want to limit the offer to hard-core refusers, anyone currently in the program will be pressured to stay there…so self-testing will be used reluctantly to try and increase coverage. (probably with the hope they’ll move them over to invasive testing at some stage)
      It’s probably aimed at people like ME….but the reality is the group of women who’ve never screened or those who’ve dropped out of the program, have often made an informed and/or firm decision…and they certainly won’t be tempted by the offer.
      I’d view it as a hungry wolf offering me a chocolate!

  3. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Mary
    In the UK they’re making the right noises, obviously to placate informed women and a few others like Dr. McCartney but I don’t think much will change at the Clinic (unless you’re informed)
    Here we’re not even making the right noises, there is no discussion about choice or opting out etc. it’s all must or should, counting us off like ignorant sheep.
    I find it incredible that we had to wait until 2016 before someone thought about writing an article on informed consent in cervical screening. The thinking: well, we’re changing the program, perhaps, we should also, consider informed consent.
    Almost like it’s an optional extra, no one seems outraged that women have been denied both consent and informed consent under our program
    I suspect we’re still a long way behind the UK, and other countries…even the States is starting to take the Pill off script. I doubt that will happen here, that consult is an effective way to capture women for the program, it doesn’t seem to matter that it’s supposed to be elective and it’s never been a clinical requirement for the Pill. I’m not sure why change is so slow here, perhaps, because most women here just accept this testing is a necessary evil, the downside to being a woman.

  4. Mary says:

    I think Elizabeth that here in Australia doctors have a lot of power over politicians. I mean how is it that the law says that we are only allowed to import medication prescribed by an Australian doctor? Give me one good reason why a UK doctor, who is allowed to work in Australia cannot prescribe me medication when in the UK? As Paul Keating said, the medical profession is the strongest union in Australia, It’s very frustrating how relaxed Europe is with prescribing but when you indicate you are from Australia on these websites, then it becomes almost impossible and more and more UK pharmacies are not sending medications to Australia. I wonder if they have got wind of more and more people doing this are have clamped down. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is surveillance going on.
    With hpv self-testing it’s again vested interests not letting women have any autonomy. If the Danes ( I think ) have moved to making self-HPV testing the standard way to screen for cervical cancer then don’t tell me it is an inferior way to test. They wouldn’t put lives at risk. It’s a total different mindset in Europe.
    And then again look at the medical marijuana laws. People have to break the law or suffer. And don’t me started on euthanasia. God we are backwards here.

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Mary,
      It’s incredibly frustrating, my younger brother has Parkinson’s Disease, cannabis oil makes a big difference to his quality of life but to get it in this country, you need lots of money and a reliable dealer!
      He may eventually get some through the Victorian Govt but that’s not likely to be for a year or so. Thankfully, they’ve started supplying it for children with severe epilepsy
      Some of these kids have permanent brain damage as a result of the seizures and to think the system stood in the way for so long. Hopefully, this damage will be avoided in the future.
      I know some people are against using cannabis for medical conditions, stem cell research/procedures and euthanasia, but I think it’s unfair to stand in the way when people are suffering. We should just get on with it, put the safeguards in place, we can use other countries there, learn from their experience.
      I worked out a long time ago that, “we have to do our own research for local conditions, we can’t just follow Finland” meant, butt out, we’re happy with the current program, it works for US! So few seem to Q the clear stalling measures and desperate need for medical control though…

      I think you’re right, the medical union is all powerful and couldn’t care less about us, patient care comes way behind control, market size and profitability.
      It’s good business but bad medicine…
      I suppose talking about the Delphi Screener on Aussie sites may have tipped them off that WE were aware of something better, it seems getting the message out to women also alerts the system to slam shut another gate.

  5. Shelli says:

    I have thought these sentiments for decades. But this is the first time I have seen them articulated. Thank you so much for stating what has been obvious to women for years: the so called “pelvic” exam is little more than a ritual rape. Further, what were female docs thinking in medical school? They were trained to perform this ritual rape by male professors; why were women in med school so daft and weak that they never spoke up and called these male rapists on the carpet??? Instead, they built careers propagating this rape, in the name of “women’s wellness.” Does everyone know what the number one killer of women is? Heart disease. But how many women schedule an annual visit to a cardiologist? You should. I would gladly say FUCK YOU to my nice but clueless gyn, but the system is such that I depend on her for my hormone prescriptions. Otherwise I’d put an end to the annual rapes I must endure.

    • ChasUK says:

      Welcome Shelli – You could put an end to the annuals as it is your right to refuse and to threaten you by withholding any medication whatsoever is simply not legal/ethical – Why not threaten them with going to the authorities with a complaint….the gyn will be very quick to give you your meds to avoid the complaint. Worth a try. No-one should be put through that by force by any means, your body your rules, no decision about you without you.

    • Alex says:

      You can sometimes get birth control (and maybe other medicine) from psychiatrists. I’m guessing you’re in the UK & I’m in the US, but it might work that way there.

      Maybe explaining that there is a detrimental effect from extrapersonally comported penetration which happen yet NOT occur in a medical setting. The term “iatrogenic assault” isn’t well-known, but “medical attack” is usually clear enough. After all, properties don’t change by designation- just like how if a doctor poisons someone with a needle, it’s still murder. This is true with other things, as well (imposed interfaces with sexual areas, for instance).

      I know that, on some levels, America tends to be very favorable toward things getting strange- especially if it’s done with subtlety. I don’t know if it’s like that where you are, but it’s one of the reasons I want to leave this country. Actually, I notice that there is a large propensity toward trying to “crawl into other people’s skin” here. I’ve also noticed that when someone wants to crawl into someone else’s skin figuratively, they tend to make somewhat literal attempts.

      • Shelli says:

        I am in the USA , Alex. You definitely bring up some thought provoking ideas!

      • Alex says:

        Thanks, Shelli. If you want some more, there’s Birth as an American Rite Of Passage by Robbie E. Davis-Floyd. It’s a mistake to think that someone’s psychology isn’t a factor in their assessments & decision-making. This is true with work & the theories that get dispensed AT work (by someone or a group of someones- their psychology would be present).

  6. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Shelli
    You can get the Pill from the pharmacy in California and Oregan and other States will follow, so might be worth a trip.
    Also, the only clinical requirements for the Pill is your medical history and a blood pressure test. Routine pelvic and breast exams are not recommended in symptom-free women and more likely to harm you. Pap testing should be offered to the roughly 5% of women aged 30 to 60 who test HPV+…everyone else is not at risk and cannot benefit from pap testing (but can be harmed)
    You can self-test for HPV too…
    It’s concerning that some doctors are still linking potentially harmful excess to the consult for the Pill, more should be done to stop this unacceptable conduct. Taking the Pill off script is well overdue…they don’t require men to have a colonoscopy before they can have Viagra, do they?
    Or a quick feel of the testicles….

    • Shelli says:

      Thank you all for the comments. I am in my 50s and post menopausal. I’ve been ensuring these ritual rapes for decades, and I’m sick of it. But I do hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms (the herbal stuff didn’t work for me), and if I refuse to let my dr molest me, she’ll likely kick me out of her practice. I wish I could get my hormones without having to go through that nonsense.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Hi Shelli
        That’s horrible, I was lucky, managed to get through menopause with no meds, it was uncomfortable for about 2 years. I made a decision I’d only go down the HRT path of it became intolerable, thankfully, I didn’t get to that point.
        I know women who use HRT, they’re reminded/pressured to have pap tests and mammograms, but apart from that, think it’s only a blood pressure test and a review of their symptoms/status. A friend told her doctor straight that she wasn’t having pap tests, HPV- women can’t benefit and would not be having mammograms – sometimes it’s a Q of finding the right doctor. I know it’s harder to change your doctor in the States, but would it be worth an email, sound her out…or finding someone else?

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        https://jeanhailes.org.au/contents/documents/ALM/Managing_menopause/HRT_Initial_consultation_PatientUK.pdf

        “Blood pressure.
        Height and weight.
        Other examination as indicated by the history (routine vaginal/bimanual examination is not required).”

        Of course, they mention this consult can include health promotion like pap testing and breast screening, but they’re not clinical requirements for HRT
        They also, mention breast self-exams, they’re not recommended here at all, at any age…it’s breast awareness now.

  7. moo says:

    Can I ask this? What exactly is HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for? I am 51 and somehwat finished with menstrual periods for not wuite a year. Sure I get cranky and sometimes hot but otherwise I am not dying. So I am ok somewhat would some woman like me need HRT for?

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Hi Moo
      Some women have a difficult time with menopause and find HRT offers some relief from the hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, mood swings, muscle pain, menstrual issues etc.

      I know women who went onto HRT fairly early, in their mid to late 40s and stayed on it for many years, others used it for a couple of years. Some GPs push it, others are more cautious – my GP understood my reluctance, I was also, unsure about the association between breast cancer and HRT. (so was she)
      Anyway, apart from a couple of minor annoyances, I’m over the worst (fingers crossed)
      I was lucky that my periods just got lighter and lighter and then stopped for a couple of months, another light one…and then after about 8 months with a light period every month or two, that was it.
      A friend had awful flooding, some of these women opt for HRT until this unpleasant and inconvenient phase passes.
      So I consider myself one of the lucky ones…
      My mother had no issues at all, menopause was a breeze for her, we’re all different.
      It’s a natural process, not a disease – that’s the way I view it, just like menstruation and pregnancy.

      • moo says:

        So the hot flashes and all symptoms can go away after the menses stop totally? Or is it for many years adter periods stop?

        My experience was more like yours Elizabeth. I had light periods but they were weird (sparing the details). So far it all stopped but but I still get hot and achy. It could be due to some other health problem.

        I used to ger very itchy but I stopped using anti-acid stomach meds and anti histamines and took vitamin B, mulit vitamin and licorce root (dgl) for the stomach. Mostly the insomnia is due to being hot so I wear less to bed and an eye mask (due to security lights at the neigbouring building).

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        It varies, Moo…
        I get the impression most women continue to have temperature issues etc. for a few years after they say goodbye to menstruation. It’s been 5-6 years for me and it’s only been the last 12 months that the temperature thing has settled down. (it was very uncomfortable for 2 years)
        I’m continuing to have skin issues, my older sister is too, we now have very sensitive skin, the products I’ve used for many years are out, my skin can’t tolerate them anymore. I’ve also, had some minor menopausal acne, not really pimples but painful blind spots that take ages to go away – it’s male pattern too, so around the mouth and jawline. The acne is caused by hormonal fluctuations, too much of the male stuff.
        After the temperature issues and/or joint pain, mood swings, insomnia etc. improve, some women are left with skin and other issues simply because they’re post-menopausal.
        The skin gets thinner, skin eruptions/cuts/burns take much longer to heal and are more likely to scar…
        A workmate started taking HRT and noticed an immediate improvement in her skin, the dryness disappeared, skin eruptions and dermatitis are gone too, but I’m not prepared to take the risk with HRT. I’m trying a few things on my skin, it’s slow progress – but I’m moving in the right direction.
        I’m sleeping better now and that helps a lot, the years of broken sleep and insomnia combined with temperature fluctuations all day left me exhausted and irritable – I always felt grubby too from the sweating. (I’d take a spare shirt to work)
        Thankfully, that stage probably lasted for 2 years, but some women struggle with these issues for 10 years or even longer. I can see why some choose to take HRT…even for a couple of years.

      • Mary says:

        Elizabeth if there is no family history of breast cancer I think HRT is pretty safe. Also the study that was done in 2002 that scared thousands of women away was only done on women using Premarin. There are other types of HRT that may be safe. For example, oestradiol valerate converts to exactly the same hormone our body produces. Maybe you could try topical oestrogen for your skin.
        It’s a personal choice but as the only cancer in my family is bowel cancer, (not familial though) and HRT is supposed to protect against bowel cancer, I probably will consider HRT.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Hi Mary
        I should look into it really, I tend to stay away from the medical profession unless it’s absolutely necessary.
        I’ve discussed it with my GP, she also said heart disease was a concern, and there’s a family history of that…not breast cancer.
        I tend not to raise these topics because you can often open a hornet’s nest. My sister’s friend also had acne in her 50s, her GP referred her to a gynecologist to discuss HRT – that poor woman endured a bimanual pelvic exam and TVU – apparently, looking for an ovarian cyst or ovarian cancer.
        This is why I tend to put up with things, or look for something I can manage myself, but I’ll definitely do some research. Thanks for the information

      • moo says:

        Oh …. premarin. Made fom pregnant mare urine… so appealing. I would rather have my little hot episodes. I do not feel too bad. No HRT for me.

        Thanks for the explanation.

        There is not enough info about normal natural menopause on the internet.

    • Miso99 (Canada) says:

      Moo, if your menopause symptoms diminishes your quality of life, you can look into bio-identical HRT. Instead of premarin and provera which are lab created synthetic molecules, bio-identical HRT uses real estrogen and progesterone as they’re made by human ovaries, they extract them from plants, soy or flax I think, so no pregnant horse pee!

      Bio-identical hormones don’t seem as harmful as the traditional prem-pro stuff, and the big 2002 Women’s health initiative study was made with prem-pro, and they discovered that breast cancer risk increases slightly with women taking provera along with premarin. But there doesn’t seem to be any increase of cancer or heart disease with the bio-identical hormones. They aren’t widely known since they can’t be patent, which is the case with prem-pro as they’re lab created molecules, while the bio-identical can be found in nature. In Quebec there’s an MD who makes lots of research on menopause, Sylvie Demers, who published a very good book about bio-identical hormones, unfortunately it’s only in French but I found a few articles about her in English : http://qcdaily.com/essential-hormones/765/

      I would definitely chose bio-identical HRT when I reach menopause if I get bad symptoms, but it should be each woman’s decision if she wants to take hormones or not, as long as she get informed consent about all the different type of HRT available.

      • Miso99 (Canada) says:

        Here’s an English power point Demers made that pretty much sums up her book on bio-identical HRT, she explains why the WHI study was badly interpreted by doctors and media and the differences between prem-pro and bio-identical HRT and the bio-identical meds currently available, I think she uses this material to give training session to MDs to teach them how to prescribe adequate bio-identical HRT :
        http://slideplayer.com/slide/10246391/

        Also, Dr John Lee and his work on progesterone is pretty interesting as well, as he explained the many benefits of progesterone on the female body and how it affects women throughout menopause, because a lot of health care folks think it’s only useful for pregnancy.

        A lot of the medical establishment are ignorant about the benefits of estrogen and progesterone on the well being of women during their whole lives, not just menopause, and it’s partly due to the lack of education on it while they’re in medical school I think. It shows by how badly women are treated, either their symptoms are dismissed and told to live with them, or they’re prescribed prem-pro when a safer and more efficient alternative could be offered to them.

      • Mary says:

        Thanks for the info Miso99. I truly believe women’s menopausal complaints are often dismissed by doctors and they are treated as though they just should put up with it. It’s a woman’s choice whether she wants HRT, it shouldn’t be up to the Dr to decide. No doctor would tell a man to put up with erectile dysfunction.

      • moo says:

        Thanks all for the comments. I was taking vitex herb for about two years and I stopped. I might try something else.

        I read that fat tissue stores estrogen so women who are obese might have a more difficult time. Birth control pills for decades with a one dose fit all sizes is going to have some women difficult for their body to remove all the hormones and adjust to lowering levels.

        I cannot think that all older women’s health problems are hormonal and some “pill” will fix them. “It’s never too late to start HRT”. Yeah. Get the customers for life. I would rather just get some herbal based capsules at a health food store and maybe eat flax seed or soy.

  8. I was raped at a young age and sometimes I have somatic pain in my belly. I had a pelvic exam or pap one time and I was asked if I would allow some medical students in the exam room while the procedure or procedures were being done. During the exam it hurt really bad (like no other exam) and I cried out. I did a Google search before coming across this because my belly was hurting and I happened to remember this. Another time a doctor that I trusted was doing a pelvic exam and didn’t use any gloves. Both have troubled me over the years but definitely the more so the latter of the two.

    • Penelope says:

      Hi MsMeagon Pack:

      Welcome to our site. You have my deepest sympathies. What happened to you is very disheartening. Please don’t let it define you. Don’t let men or women who see your vulnerability and pain from this take advantage of you. Hopefully you’ve found some measure of support and comfort in finding our site and knowing that you’re far from alone. I hope you have friends and family and even a counselor that you can trust and open up to. And remember that we’re here too. Hopefully, after reading all of the information here, you’ll never go back for another so-called regular exam. I think, if I may say so, that they realized your vulnerable state and in their coldness figured that they could take advantage. Their motive is to get paid by building you into their clientele. I wonder, Girls who are molested; and I believe this is what these gyns did to you; unfortunately are targets as their self esteem has been lowered to think that they have to submit to people – men – who want access to their genitals. Please remember this even in your personal life, too. These gyn’s who took advantage of you – used no gloves – and allowed people you’ve never seen in life to stare at your private area may get their punishment in hell, yet. It’s so easy for me to get preachy, MsMeagon Pack, please excuse me. And I started not to respond in order to not offend you. However, you’ve compelled me to speak to you. I just want to inform you to ensure you that you 1. know that what happened isn’t your fault. You were taken advantage of by practiced professionals and you have my deepest sympathies and 2. are educated against going back.

      I notice for those women and girls who have been assaulted it’s mind over matter. It depends on the woman or girl and her resilience. Those that realize that it’s not their fault and that they are more than what happened to them – are those that manage to survive. I see women who’ve had one terrible assault and are ready for suicide. (I pray this isn’t you – please call that hotline – don’t be ashamed..). I see in the news about the young women who were kidnapped as girls – held and raped for 10 or more years – re-enter their lives and forge on to be successful as a women. Success – not meaning business success (that can come later…) – but rather they have successfully claimed back their lives – their spirits are healed and they move on. Who sings that song – “This is my fight song…claim back my life song…..”

      When a woman has symptoms, violating her private area isn’t necessary. All you have to do is realize they don’t require the same of men, to know that it is a sham. Blood work, MRI, abdominal ultrasound and abdominal laparoscopy, self-testing, and if at all necessary – something new – a mammogram that doesn’t squish the breasts, rather it takes images. It reminds me of the machine that takes 360 degree X-rays of your mouth at the dentist’s office.

      A gyn doesn’t have to feel your vagina in order to know something is wrong with your uterus. They just have to feel your uterus. There’s no need for looking at anything or insert anything between your legs. They should know from their description of your symptoms and training what you have or may have and then send you for the tests I mentioned that have nothing to do with stirrups. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had none, one, or many sexual partners. Women’s bodies are designed to be strong, not vulnerable because of sexual contact and childbirth – the lie that ob/yn’s make their careers off of. Some women may have issues with conception and birth, but these bastards have taken full advantage to abuse women. The profession needs to be (and is…being) taken over by women….they just need to change away from the male colleagues habits…or they would be no better than them. The pelvic and the speculum – these things never were really diagnostic tools. From all that I’ve read and studied on the internet, including our site ( all of the veteran commenters should have master’s degrees in women’s health as they bring very educational, fact based information to our site…), the so called pelvic exam really needs to be destroyed. It was more of a tool for gullible Victorian women and lecherous, curious males. It was for feeding the Victorian male gyn’s curiousity about the Victorian female body under all of those long skirts and underwear and corsets. Seeing as it has been about a couple of centuries since “gynecology” was started, you would think that this would have progressed away from stirrups and exposing women in such a barbaric way (and then expecting them to accept it…..) with all of the other technical innovations in medicine. A man will never be forced to get into stirrups or have devices applied to their genitals…they absolutely volunteer to allow it because they want it done- or the urologist will wind up punched in the nose, first). No, in this society, it’s more about pleasure and power. As long as women accept it and drag their daughters into accepting it, it perpetuates. However, too slow for us, there are changes and women are waking up. So glad that you are one. I’m just sad it happened this way for you.

      Please keep in touch, MsMeagon Pack, or at least keep reading all that these special women and men have to say here and be illuminated. I hope someday you’ll feel blessed to know when you’ve become victorious over what has happened to you.

    • katrehman says:

      Moo I take black cohosh sweats and flushes which really helps me. Took 3 weeks to kick in. I really don’t want HRT either

  9. Diane Spero says:

    hi its Diane,
    i need to share with others who understand. I called my Dr ( who I like and teats the whole person), to make an apt for an issue I am having. The staff was rude on hung up on.
    I finally got through .I could not get an apt for a while. What gives these people the right to be so rude?
    I have wondered for a while if i have been ( kinda black listed) in the medical community.
    i really do wonder if my refusal of female exams and bad anxiety make them treat me so rudely.

    i hate going to Dr’s it just re traumatizes me. Please tell me i’m not alone.
    i go twice a yr for thyroid blood work. So i really do stay away.
    I can’t piss in a cup because of my trauma with mandated pee test. ( long story).

    i don’t have anyone to go with me or even talk too about this.

    The medical system is caught up in paper work patient care does exist.
    i am polite to these people, though i am quiet and anxious.
    I am sick of being treated so rudely.
    i will let my Dr know of my experience.

    i Feel my computer is teated better when its repaired , than the way medical offices treat people. Maybe it ‘s Florida I don’t know!
    I can’t be traumatized anymore by rude medical staff. They make feel degraded and dirty.

    its so sad that the medical system become so money hungry that people don’t matter.

    Has anyone been able to over come the trauma?
    I feel so alone, and unable to navigate the medical system! Please help!

    • Kelly Corkran says:

      Hi Diane
      .
      You are not alone. Receptionists at medical centres tend to be rude some more than others. It is not personal. I think it is a reflection of how they see themselves more than anything.

    • Lily Lamb says:

      Hi Diane, You are not alone! I made myself an appointment with a private Dr. with my good insurance. (Am a survivor). The lady at the desk wanted to take my picture for my file. ( I thought,” So the Dr. can match my face to my genitals?”) My mind isn’t right, I know.. So I said no, I didn’t want to.She whispered loudly enough so I could hear her, “WEIRD!” To her office mate. If they only knew how many attempts it took me to make the appointment, get into the building, get into the elevator and march myself in there! I disassociated during the exam, and have been unraveling since. I have decided I have way to kill myself finally. I found 3 places I can buy cyanide pills. Just meant to say you are not alone. And it is like a crack in a dam, very tiny and the water starts rushing through and then the whole thing dissolves. It started a chain of me remembering things and events I had disassociated. And I can’t stop it. I wish I could stop remembering things.

      • Shana says:

        Please do not take your own life. I hope I am misreading your comment about the pills. Please do not do that. Call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

      • Lily Lamb says:

        Thanks for replying! Even the psych forum people don’t talk to me! They ignore all my posts!
        I posted two posts on a rape forum and they deleted them! I called the rape hotline and I told the lady my story and did she know any Doctors that would treat survivors or sedate us so we could take care of our health without our minds dissolving. And we both cried, byut she couldn’t give me any resources. Anxiety pills or sedated or Doctors who specifically could treat survivors.
        Well, I haven’t bought them. Those pills. Still a few minutes of irreversible agony- and then it is done. A better death than the people who were forced to jump from the Twin Towers! $500 each. I think I should buy from the 3 sources because what if one or two are just baby powder in a capsule?
        I think I should buy them for ‘just in case’ at least. This stuff has happened to me more than one time.
        But I am getting those memories back and it’s not a good experience!!
        I want to cut my head open and wash my brain with some Wisk and bleach. And squeeze it out real good.
        I haven’t bought them yet.

  10. Shana says:

    In response to comments about hot flashes… I’m in my mid-40s and I’ve been experiencing hot flashes for several years now. I first tried Black Cohash. It took about 4-6 weeks to start working, but then stopped being effective after 6 months. I then started taking Flaxseed Oil. That really helped me. I’ve also taken pumpkin seed oil. The last few weeks have been horrible though, for me. A few days ago, I started take soy isoflavones and evening primrose oil. I’m not there yet, but I already notice a difference. Soy seems to really help. I’ve taken it before as an additive to another supplement, and I highly recommend it. I read recently that menopause (I’m actually pre-meno) can take 10-15 years. It is my hope that I will never go on HRT. Vitamin supplements are what I prefer. What works for one person may not work for another, and they take time to be effective.

  11. nienkie says:

    I am so happy to have read this post. I am 33 and have never been to an ob/gyn. I just cannot fathom the idea of allowing a stranger that kind of access to my most intimate parts, the very idea of it makes me anxious. I asked my house dr about it once, and he said its not necesarry to go until i am married. He must have assumed I was a virgin, which i was and i remained one till my wedding day, at the age of 31. I have been made to feel so guilty about not going and i beat myself up so much about it, I have myself beleiving that i am reckless with my health (when I am actually fit and of ideal weight, eating healthy do not smoke and only drink on occasion). I thought once i had sex i would magically be less scared of a pelvic exam, but I still feel the same way about it. Reading this post has made me feel so much better about feeling this way, and less alone. Thank you so much for writing about this.

  12. Tali says:

    I got thrown out of the doctors office for refusing a pelvic exam just yesterday. I still stand by my decision, it is violating, inhumane, and unnecessary. I haven’t had one done in 12 years, because the last one the doctor forcibly ruptured my membrane, with his finger, and sent me into early labor, without even telling me he was going to do it. It was excruciating. Never again I say. This needs to be stopped.

  13. Lily says:

    It is true. No matter how excellent the Doctor or care. I disassociated during my exam. Switched personalities. Self abused because of the disgusting feeling. Still have that self hating feeling. Would like to just beat myself to death self hatred.
    It was many years before I could go to one of these doctors again. I may never feel right again in this life.

    • ChasUK says:

      Lily, you know you don’t have to have these exams EVER, all you need remember is YOU are in charge of your body and what happens to it. I’m sorry you feel so badly but please don’t hate yourself because of what they put you through. Treat the experience as a lesson learned and be kind to yourself. Your best teacher is your last mistake. Reading this site has helped me gain control over my life in many ways and I couldn’t do without it, I have read every subject heading and every comment and has brought me peace in my life. It has also taught me to question and research everything medically related, from over diagnosis, over treatment, unnecessary treatment/procedures/side effects etc. I feel empowered now. Stay with us here and take good care.

      • Lily lamb says:

        I was 6.5 when my first thing happened. And there were others.
        Forced visit for pelvic or I wasn’t allowed to go home. And I cried and had a mental breakdown in the room. (I didn’t want to take my clothes off in front of a man I didn’t know. I didn’t want to take my underpants off or be made to show him my genitals. Or let him touch me. But I was bullied into it. Or I couldn’t go home again. So I submitted. I cried so hard while the ob/gyn was examining me, he complained to the nurse,” I can’t examine her while she is crying like this, she keeps pushing the speculum out.” They left the door open so I would feel more ‘comfortable’ with people going by in the hallway (too embarrassed to keep wailing).
        They left the door open more than once when I went to my exams, ” So I would feel more ‘comfortable’ (so everybody walking by could see and hear what was going on, so they couldn’t be sued for doing this against my will).
        My first bad thing that happened, they tricked me into going for surgery, it was almost 24 hours.
        We really need specialized ob/gyns who could sedate and who can not send victims into disassociating. It has been almost 2 weeks now since my exam. And I am not okay.

      • Diane Spero says:

        sorry to hear what you went through. i can so relate. Had abuse issues Freaked out when i wa takwn for first exam. went through exam trauma for yrs, till I finally said enough! MORE EXAM ATTEMPS! I never fond out what my issue is.
        I agree with having specialiized Gyns. I have asked to be sedated, refused!
        gld you are here

      • Lily Lamb says:

        Thanks! Glad you are here too!
        Embarrassed because I am stitched and restitched like a shredded little rag doll.
        Many things, why do we have to apologize for? Still freaking out, disassociating, going stiff, hanging onto the side of the table, covering my face for exams.
        Couldn’t get into the building, several attempts. Couldn’t get into the elevator, several attempts. Changed where I sat tbecause I couldn’t stand having someone sit nearby.
        So many things.
        I would have preferred to be sedated.

  14. katrehman says:

    Lily lamb it’s awfull the lack of respect and empathy you have been shown but really chasing uk is right. It’s YOUR body and you have every right to refuse these exams. Why do you need a yearly well woman check if you dont have symptoms. Hope you heal….

    • Lily Lamb says:

      Thank you everyone for replying to me! I just checked and saw all the comments! The thing about disassociating is your mind is protecting you so you an function. Somewhere out there, that Doctor and Nurse are still out there. And he was right. He shouldn’t have done that first exam on me. And he should’ve reported the person who mad the appointment and brought me to that first forced pelvic exam to the authorities. It was rape and coerced rape. Sexual abuse. No one should be able to force a sexually abused minor into a pelvic exam when she obviously is damaged mentally because of it.

  15. Diane Spero says:

    thanks lily. i wish too that i didn;t live the rauma exam attempts have caused me. i;m 57 act 37 .
    i want the love i have been able because of this trauma. Te abortion in the hospital was the worst.
    mean dr, self aborted in hospital.

    I don’t evrn get along well with women. I feel damaged not as emtionalas they are. i am loical anyway. ( hate drama).

    I don’t know about others but women haven’t ben supportive of my stance against exams.
    i lied to my mom who kept nagging me about exams.

    i agree about forcing a minoe. i was forcd at 17. i was taken for an exam at boarding school. The bitch trie to jam he finget uup me. hurt like hell i am small.
    5’1 100 lbs was maybe 80 lbs than.

    The U S medical system is all about $$$$ any way patient care is non exsistant. Its a maze of paper work. I stay away! Its why I am healthy. i take a natural thyroid pill thats it.!

    • Lily Lamb says:

      The doctor took 24 hours to piece me together in surgery. There wasn’t anything left of me. Between to two places. And sticks imbedded in me. And sh*t, and my own vomit they stuffed back in me. Made me eat my own shit and vomit.
      But I had skin taken from my leg, I remember having a patch on my thigh with no skin on it.
      So I didn’t have a regular stretchy vagina. I had a built from scratch and pieces one. And I remember how that speculum burned. I cried so much. It hurt. And all they said was,” Oh- it couldn’t hurt that bad.” That I needed to relax and breathe.
      I wish we could have Doctors who would treat trauma survivors. And s date us. I would have to have been sedated this last time.
      Am very glad to have you to talk to.
      Am very sorry that this happened to you too, and also very happy someone on this planet is there to talk to.

    • Lily Lamb says:

      Thank you Diane for talking with me! I have a highly disfunctional life. You can tell by looking at my life that I am not right. I don’t trust anyone, I don’t have anyone on my emergency call list, I have no friends or family of any kind ever in my life, I don’t have any interest in sex at all, I don’t like amusements (but I like to escape in the movies), I, of course, have no kids. I am never happy, am even jealous of women who spend their days laughing and superficial! I wonder- what kind of lives do they have? Their biggest concern is some petty thing!

    • Lily Lamb says:

      The non-emotional thing I am like that to! I always feel kind of stunned. And ‘unable to rise to the occasion’ for strong feelings of any kind. I wonder what that is?

  16. linda says:

    Hi Lily. You have found true friends here on this site. I pray you heal quickly from all of that trauma. No one understands like we do. I’m so glad you found us. My love and well wishes to you.

    • LilyLamb says:

      Thank you Linda!
      It makes me happy at least to know there is so much room for improvement in Womens’ health!

  17. Jackie says:

    I cannot say thank you enough to the contributors and author of this post. I have suffered from this intense fear of going to the gynecologist my entire life. I am 28 and have seen three different gynos, hoping each situation will be different and am left with someone who is in a rush, patronizing, and just plain insulting sometimes. I have never completely gone through with an exam due to the intense fear. Each time I try, I end up crying and moving my legs so much that I really cannot control it. I have tried muscle relaxers and have just recently been prescribed a XANAX type drug. I hope it works. I have sex, I hope to have kids one day, but the fact that I cannot get through these exams worries me that children would be an impossibility for me (at least me birthing them). I now see two therapists (one talk, one hypnotherapy) and both are somewhat at a loss as to how to help me. They try teaching me exposure techniques and calming techniques, but I honestly just want to get knocked out like some of these other woman. If anyone has a solution for me, please do share. I would greatly appreciate it.

    • Evie says:

      Hi, Jackie. The solution is very simple – just don’t have these exams. They are completely unnecessary at best, and at worst they can seriously harm you or the baby.

      • Diane Spero says:

        i do avoid these exams. it was such a relieve to not traunaize my self.
        I am so tried of nasty Dr’s office staff. These women are so busy they for get their is a person on the other end of the line.
        I had one today said i was supposed to laug at something she said. I just got her back on track of taking care of business. My anxiety gets me the worst treatment. I hung up got frustrated so bad at this crap!
        all i need was a script for blood work. sevreal times i had to get her back on the business at hand. I will let the dr know about her behavior.

  18. ScaredTeenager says:

    I came to this page in hopes I wasn’t the only one who felt so viciously violated and traumatized by the procedure. The doctor I had gave fairly good reasons for performing a pelvic exam (I was 17 at the time and looking to start birth control simply to help manage my periods) and I did have a sister with endometriosis, so her concerns were valid. However, I had actively been planning ways to say no to the prodecure on my way there and was determined to avoid it at all costs, but it ended up happening anyways.

    I had not had sex, and afterwards am physically disgusted at even the idea. As time went on, and the eventual ‘I’ll get over it’ mentality I expected never came, things only got worse. I felt physically sick at even the mention of sexual intercourse or an OB/GYN, and was exhibiting behaviors I had been told only applied to rape victims. “But that’s not right,” I thought, “It was just a doctors appointment, I don’t have the right to be this upset over it.” So I never told anyone, and just dealt with the anxiety and the nightless nights of panic attacks.

    Until I found this. And it was a huge wave of relief, knowing that I wasn’t the only one who felt so violated and traumatized over it. It was reassuring, knowing that others felt that the distress it caused was serious enough to be compared to rape. I didn’t feel so lonely afterwards.

    I’m in college now, and while I really haven’t told anyone the extent of how serious it was, I’ve dropped clear hints to friends to help ease it up. Now, whenever a bad day hits, I don’t feel so alone. I know my anxiety is valid.

    But I still wish there was a better way to avoid this. A way to make sure no one else has to feel the way we do. Because some days, it still feels so overwhelming.

    Also, any additional advice on dealing with it would be appreciated.

    • LilyLamb says:

      Horrifyingly embarrassing and intimate exams! And they are so flippant about my desire for privacy and modesty while I am being forced to show them my genitals. I have had them keep the door open while they were doing the exam so I would feel ‘more comfortable’ . With people going by in the hallway. It feels like the kill line at a alaughter house to me.
      There are usually a bunch of noisy Mexicans men with their girls friends babbling in another language. You don’t know what they are saying, but by their loud laughter it seems it is mean or cruel and disparaging or insulting. It is unnerving.
      Ob/gyn offices should be quiet. Patients being seen only., not a bunch of noisy men. Dim lighting. Not a crowded waiting room with garish lighting.
      A real cloth gown. A huge cloth drape. A curtain to put around inside the room. NOT wallls so thin you can hear the exam going on in the next room! The woman laughing nervously while you sit on your crinkly paper and shiver in fear, in anticipation.
      I am having sharp pains in my back on the right side. All night. But you know, ovarian cancer or kidney stones- I am not going back ever again to these doctors. They will never again be allow to have acces to my genitals or orifices.
      I could go for physica exams but only if I can keep my underwear on, and they better not even try to bully me into letting them molest me.

      • Allison says:

        Pain on the right side? It could be appendicitis as being that is where your appendix is.

  19. LilyLamb says:

    WTF? We ALL want to be knocked out for these exams!!
    I usually am up ALL night long the night before, my mind presenting one humiliating and degrading set of sensations and scenarios after another.
    A pill to sleep the night before, a closed door and curtain pulled, dim lighting, a quiet waiting room, a big cloth gown, a big drape, they should not touch our breasts or genitals at all before knocking us out. The tools should not be displayed. They make you feel disemboweled just looking at them!
    To me it sinister like a rape every time. I feel icky and violated. Slightly resentful and uneasy saying goodby to staff, and they are so happy like, ” Hahaha- We molested her again! Used the REALLY big speculum on her! Why do they all make that noise when the speculum goes in!!? Stretched her all out good for another year! Now let’s all talk about her pussy lips or a**hole or nipples as she is leaving have you you ever seen such an ugly pussy?”
    I know it is exactly rape to me and nothing less. Because I am shakey and feel nauseous afterwards. When I get home I take a shower and throw away my underwear and clothes I was wearing that day. (Otherwise, every time I put them on I am thinking,”THOSE are the underpants I was wearing THAT day-ick!”
    I eat ice-cream after I get a tub soak (with wine in the tub) or a shower. And cry and cry. I have a drink after, and order food in. Then I take an Advil PM go to bed .
    It is exactly a rape to me. Every time. It takes at least a week to start to feel ‘normal’ again. I am usually very withdrawn, anti-social/ introverted and quiet for at least a week after each exam.

  20. katrehman says:

    Reading these comments is harrowing .I used to bin the knickers I wore to smears and wash my clothes and myself in dettol disinfectant. But really ladies Evie is right there’s no real need for a healthy asymptomatic woman to have these tests at all. Bimanuals don’t really tell you anything and you do t need them or smears to get the Pill. It can be hard an scary telling a medic to their face NO! but believe me when I started to do that I felt a whole lot more empowered. I hope you did a way to heal….and keep refusing these exams! There’s a good post on this site why are doctors sticking their fingers into women’s vaginas and a woman’s vagina doesn’t need yearly supervision after all. X. Kat

  21. Allison says:

    I’m 25 and never had an exam. I’m a virgin and never had my first kiss. I do not want to through with this humiliating procedure because I’m depressed with being a V and the fact that I never had a guy I like see me naked yet. I’m very frustrated sexually and even the thought of these people violating me makes it worse! I can’t have a guy but I can spread for some sicko doctor? While I’m not looking for love, I want a partner I’m even just slightly attracted to being the first fingers inside of me, the first to touch my breasts, ETC. NOT some pervy doctor! I put up with tax penalties every year cause I refuse to get health insurance due to the fact I’m afraid they will make me get a physical, including pelvic and breast exam, in order to have a policy. This is just too much! I’m crying and about to faint just talking about this!

    • LilyLamb says:

      Don’t let your first sexual experience be a pelvic exam, Pap smear and breast exam. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it. You will never forget the feeling of the exam or the horror of the events as they unfold for you if you make your first experience a gyn visit.
      I am so glad for the internet and all of you! Thank you! I thought I was invisible or a weirdo or the only one.
      I am completely willing not to have sex ever again if it would get me out of displaying my genitals to strangers and allow them to be cruel to them.

    • Alex says:

      Allison: Even if you’d been with dozens of guys, they still shouldn’t be deciding what goes where. Bodily autonomy is not dependent on medical sponsorship & it’s not immature to protect yourself from someone unconventionally attacking you. After all, properties don’t change by designation- just like if a doctor poisons someone with a needle, it’s still murder. This applies to other things, as well.

      Right off the bat, this is an interface with a sexual area as a product of someone else’s decision-making, which is an attack. It doesn’t need to involve wrestling & screaming any more than it needs to involve religion or relatives. There is a massive tendency towards bad science & general antagonism in medicine (especially American medicine), plus it’s usually on a subtle level- making it difficult to prove.

      I feel that it makes it even more apparent that it’s a deliberate thing & there are no shortage of stories where they maim, murder, or molest someone. In addition, they usually act like they didn’t do anything wrong because they used medical techniques to do it. This is rather like a mechanic sticking a wrench up someone’s ass on their own accord & then denying that any attack took place. I never understood that argument- reality takes a coffee break in a medical setting? Or is it just for the medical personnel, specifically?

      Even if they DID want to help someone out, altruism doesn’t produce ownership & they are not somehow innocent of their own actions because they might get groundlessly sued for doing otherwise. Groundless lawsuits are a risk for everybody all the time, but someone would more plausibly play it safe & not attack someone iatrogenically if they were really worried about getting sued. Another point is that someone wrongfully suing someone is not proportionate to medically raping someone, for instance (like with that guy in New York that walked into a hospital to get stitches & they forced a rectal exam on him 5 to 1- supposedly worried about him having a spinal injury, but it seems to not even be a viable test AND it was refused both verbally & physically).

      If someone were at a restaurant & the waiter or waitress were to shove a salad down someone’s throat, that would be an attack- regardless of if there are potential health-bolstering effects, if the person doing this works there, or what genders are involved in this situation.

      • LilyLamb says:

        If there is a G-d in heaven, I wish I could get out of this life. If I could just take my brain out, and wash it with some bleach and Wisk. And have a completely clean brain, it would be so nice.

      • linda says:

        Hi Lily. There’s no need to take your brain out for a wash. You will be fine. You have found us and we are all here to support each other. We all have memories of exams we want to wash out. Women are strong and you are too. For you intimate exams are a thing of the past – the new you will not tolerate such disrespect to your body. Please take heart from our testimonies. There is a new life waiting for you one in which you are in charge.
        XX

  22. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    I’m so sorry to read these accounts, yes, harrowing is the word.
    I don’t think I’ll ever lose the anger and sadness I feel for all the women harmed by so-called well-woman exams, pap tests & mammograms. (and those treated badly during pregnancy and childbirth)
    IMO, one of the greatest risks to our health and well-being is women’s “healthcare”.

    You don’t have to “avoid” these exams and tests either, it’s up to you, take a look at the evidence, that will empower you in the consult room – if you don’t want these exams and test, then say no, if that’s not accepted, I’d make a formal complaint and go looking for another doctor. (I know that’s not easy in some countries) If you don’t feel you can face the doctor, send an email first, stating you will not be having pap tests etc. and wait for the response, you’ll soon know whether you can work with that particular doctor/clinic.
    I’ve found being informed and the calmness of age has helped me in the consult room, I think firm and polite is a killer combination, some doctors want you to be defensive, anxious, embarrassed etc. it’s unnerving and unfamiliar territory when the woman is informed, calm and stands her ground. It wasn’t always the way, I avoided doctors for many years, but something happens with age – I’ve spoken to a few women who’ve also found it easier to say NO in the consult room in their 50’s+.
    I hope you all find some comfort from the evidence and knowing you have a choice, a say in what happens to your body – and yes, you can say NO

    • LilyLamb says:

      CAN you say no?
      Can I really, even if my kidneys are failing or whatever? Say “No, my underwear stays on and keep your fingers out of my butt and vagina and off my genitals. The rest is yours.”
      This is all I want. Not to be forced to give up access to my intimate parts to every one.

      • CHASUK says:

        Lily – YES you can say NO…..to any medical procedure or test, especially this one! You do not have to justify your decision. Screening of any kind is carried out on people with NO SYMPTOMS so it will always be a choice. This is your body and your rules apply and do not let anyone tell you differently, if they do then threaten them with “I shall be reporting you”. All Cancer screening is an OFFER, it’s ELECTIVE/OPTIONAL by choice, it is not compulsory at all, EVER, and remember that all cancer screening has risks attached (which I doubt they will tell you), it is called overtreatment. These are YOUR private areas of YOUR body and if you refuse access to them then that should be the final decision. Tell them you have made an informed decision not to screen, by choice and say Thanks for the OFFER/INVITATION but NO THANKS – you always have that choice. No decision about you without you, please never forget this. Be firm, polite and do not sway to their way of thinking. They need to reach targets or they don’t get their payments
        http://margaretmccartney.com/2012/04/10/womens-hour-cervical-screening/
        https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk/2016/05/18/new-letters-and-leaflets-for-cervical-screening/
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940995/
        http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/28/women-informed-consent-and-cervical-screening
        Please take the time to read the References and Education page on this site, there are many excellent links provided that will help you gain power over your body.
        Please rise above the way you are feeling, you are number 1 so don’t let the medical profession get you down. Repeat the words “Informed consent, my decision” to yourself and them over and over again.
        Take good care and protect yourself Lily………………….you’re worth it!

      • LilyLamb says:

        So do you think I could live out my life and never have to have somebody make me let them either see my private areas or do any of these exams again?

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        I suggested a woman say to her GP, who was bullying her about pap testing, “Oh, I checked with the Medical Board about that, I was confused as it always sounds like women must have Pap tests, but they told me although it’s recommended, it’s up to me. I was also told that no one has the right to pressure me to have Pap tests”

        It worked a treat…never mentioned again, bullying is completely unacceptable, recommended does not make it a law. Recommendations here have called for serious over-screening for decades, so all recommendations need to be carefully considered to ensure they’re in OUR best interests.
        The medical profession has a lot to answer for, I can feel the pain in your posts, hope you can find a way to move forward. You know…making a written complaint about your treatment might help, even if nothing comes of it, doctors don’t like having complaints lodged against them. I think when we feel like we’re been treated badly and doctors get away with it, it can be harder to recover from the trauma. One woman (online) told me that simply telling the doctor how he made her feel…made her feel better, he called and apologised, sometimes medical people need reminding that we’re not lumps of meat.
        All the best, we’re all here for you….

      • LilyLamb says:

        I had a really horrible experience as a kid with a forced Pap, pelvic and breast exam.
        When I was 6, I was pretty much destroyed and pieced together along with a swatch of skin from my thigh that was relocated there.
        In the last month, I disassociated hard when I went to this ob/gyn I have good medical now. A good job. I found a private doctor and went for a complete physical. Thinking I could do it. Thinking while I have good insurance I should be an adult about things. I got my weight, blood pressure checked, quick pap smear (which hurt a lot, might have been what switched me) and disassociated during the Pap smear.
        Switched into some personality I didn’t even know I had. I was Salesperson of the Year, or some slick talking business chick. I slick talked my way out of the rest of the exam/ escaped the rest of the exam, got dressed, left the building and drove off. Didn’t realize until the next day, I hadn’t had the physical. Didn’t give my medical history or anything.
        So all week I have been remembering things. I can’t stop. It made me start remembering. And no one wants to talk time, the rape hotline people wouldn’t even give me any resources.
        I found about about these SANE nurses, and wondered if they would send me in a direction for womens’ health with professionals that wouldn’t send me into another downward spiral.
        A sedated exam next time?
        No. No help.
        I guess I’ll be better without them. I have no symptoms anyway

  23. I should add that I understand for many women the calmness of age will never happen thanks to the psychological and physical damage caused by the medical profession and these programs. I know some women avoid all medical care due to past trauma.
    The damage caused by cancer screening and women’s healthcare, esp. the well woman industry/scam is awful – it means some women may ignore symptoms for conditions that may go on to seriously damage their health or even take their life.
    It’s a cruel joke to call this healthcare, I’ve always called it medical abuse.

    • LilyLamb says:

      It is horrific abuse. Now the thing is putting a hose up your intestines and taking pictures. They give you a date rape drug and an anesthesia that wears off in the middle of the expedition.
      And it is horrifically painful I hear.
      Thank you all for getting it into my head- I do not have to submit to these painful and humiliating exams anymore. I have no symptoms.
      Until I die, this isNT body again. And no one can force me anymore!

      • LilyLamb says:

        I meant, “This is MY body again! And nobody can force me!”

      • CHASUK says:

        Lily if you have no symptoms then intimate exams of this kind are not necessary, needed or compulsory, it really is as simple as that. I do not screen for any kind of cancer anymore, yes I was hassled by my GP but I explained or rather reminded him that it is my choice and gave a firm no, he thought I needed counselling on this but again used the words informed consent and choice, no more was said! I do not even have Health Checks as they have not been proven to reduce deaths, this information I read on the Pulse website which is for Health professionals only but somehow got in and registered as a visitor which allows me to read all the GP’s, Pharmacists and nurses individual comments, who also state that these checks are not worth it, cause a lot of anxiety, waste time and they would rather spend their valuable consults treating the real sick people not the worried well who use up resources and money.
        If a complete stranger asked if they could touch you intimately, your reply would be a firm NO, the same applies in the medical setting, NO means NO. Take care.

      • LilyLamb says:

        Yes. I figured because they have already ruined my sexuality and vulva, the next adventure would be for them to try to ruin my anal retention by putting the wrong size tools up there too! Making fun of me while I am in horrific anal agony. ( “Whoops! That’s the vacuum hose- not the colonoscopy tube! We misplaced the colonoscopy tube. JUST BREATH DEEP! That vacuum hose couldn’t possibly hurt that much. You could fit a baseball bat up there and it would stretch!)”
        And then laugh with each other about it.
        No more access to my genitals or orifices EVER! I don’t care if there are vines growing out of my vagina!

      • CHASUK says:

        Not only can a colonoscopy be painful it also carries risks, a perforated bowel for instance which can cause sepsis and you could die, it really does happen. My own father was tricked into having this procedure with no symptoms and was told he had a 2cm tumour, which I might add would probably never have caused him any symptoms or problems in his life time, being as he was 76 a heavy smoker/drinker, this 2cm tumour was removed but he developed sepsis and was straight into a coma, 5 more operations, another 2 bouts of sepsis, more comas etc. which caused damage somehow to his kidneys so they operated again! In hospital for 9 months and what a state they have left him in, a lot has been removed and now has a worse poor health than before living with a colostomy bag, he is a mess with little quality of life.

  24. Allison says:

    I shared some of the articles from this site on facebook and as a result had people unfriend me. Yeah, I feel pretty sad. But really, anybody who won’t be my friend unless I agree to get medically raped is not a good friend! Too bad the women on here don’t live near me.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yet if you said you had doubts about bowel screening, I doubt it would cause a ripple of concern, judgement or protest…..but bowel cancer is far more likely than cc.
      Just goes to show the irrational reactions about Pap tests and to a lesser degree, breast screening, thanks to decades of brainwashing and the concerted effort made to deceive women. Of course, all those “saved” feel very strongly about the matter…almost all have simply been over-treated. It’s so unethical to lead women to that conclusion simply to protect the program, excess and profits.

      • Shana says:

        I am almost certain that is what happened to my grandmother. She had a mastectomy in the 1990s because they told her she had breast cancer. She had no symptoms. I’ve read articles about how they would find things back then and overreact and over-treat.

      • ScaredTeenager says:

        Honestly, I do feel like the exams have a good reason at their core- cancer is a pretty serious disease, after all.

        However, I don’t believe these exams should be done yearly, as was recommended to me on my first visit, nor should they forced on completely asymptomatic women with no history of it.

        I’ve been dealing with regular doctor visits since the age of three for a seperate condition- so I think it’s safe to assume I’m familiar with the doctors office, and have family in the medicial field. So to a point, I do recognize that these tests are necessary, and useful.

        But also speaking as someone who has been so negatively impacted by it, who has fought every day to not let the trauma I felt there affect my daily life, I can’t stand by it completely. Why is the procedure still so far behind? We have cat scans and MRIs and are working on making prosthetics that move according to someone’s thoughts, but we still have to resort to physically forcing us into uncomfortable situations to point of mental trauma?

        This can’t keep going on like this. Health is important, yes, and sometimes things are awful. But this is far too consistent, harming far too many people, for it to be expected.

        Things need to change.

    • Shelli says:

      Hi Allison – I’ve had a similar experience. I’ve been practically yelled at for speaking out against this bizarre form of systemic oppression of women. “Medicine is NOT just a business!!” (Yes it is…) “These tests are necessary!” (No, they aren’t.) “You are an idiot!” (I’m a scientist with an advanced degree, and though I’m not in the field of medicine, I’ve studied plenty of biology, chemistry, and statistics; I’m not an idiot. I know too damned much, if anything.) We are in a lonely place, sadly. But we need to keep speaking out. The suffrage movement started out with just some lonely voices, as did the civil rights movement and women’s rights movement of the 1960s. Keep shouting, Allison – I intend to! Take care, Shelli

  25. Diane Spero says:

    Happy mother’s day to thosse not reuined by GYN’S and other Dr’s. To thers who have never received answers to their issues, or denied help I feel your pain.
    Please lets keep fighting so other women don’t suffer like we have.

    Diane

  26. Adele says:

    As a child of maybe 5 or 6 years old, I was subjected to a pelvic exam by the (male) family doctor. This was something I didn’t remember until I started having cervical smear tests. I’ve always hated these exams, but as I get older it’s becoming closer to a phobia. Recently, I had my worst experience yet.
    Almost 6 years ago, I had a thermal ablation procedure to remedy years of shockingly heavy periods. Whilst under GA they placed a Mirena coil. This coil needed to be removed and replaced about 9 months ago. They managed to remove the coil on the second attempt. (Two separate appointments) Two weeks later (last week) they brought me back into the outpatients dept to have a hysteroscopy and insert the new coil. This was to be my third invasive pelvic exam in as many months!
    My “five to ten minute procedure” became an ordeal that lasted approximately one hour. One hour of being violated with numerous instruments. There were four people in the room while this was happening. I felt my mind leaving my body. It was as close to rape as I’ve ever been. Afterwards, I was pale and shaking and unable to stand. For two days I was unable to sit or walk properly. Now, a week later, I still feel like I just gave birth. I can’t stop crying and my husband doesn’t understand. I had no choice. They violated me. They shoved so many instruments inside me I lost count. They cut pieces out of me. I was fully awake for the whole thing. A male friend gets sedated for an endoscopy, for God’s sake.

    • Lily Lamb says:

      I have had sexual trauma piled onto sexual trauma. I just started getting my mind back in the first two weeks of April of this year.
      I was massively depressed and suicidal when my mind started coming back.
      I had my Mirena iud out, I had cramps for a few days and passed a blood. Lot the size of an avocado attached by a 4 – 5 inch long rope with a Roma tomato sized blood clot on the other end.
      I have never wanted or needed sex. Probably tied to these things. But now I am crazy wanting sex all the time. It was a fragile 2 months. I have never had any therapy, I was a big pain in the butt to a lit of people online, and I ordered cyanide pills from 3 different countries to kill myself.
      But I am still here.
      I don’t know how.
      I don’t even want to relive all of the crap I have gone through.
      But now that iud is out. And I am cognizant of all of these things. And I have things to be ashamed of because of the abuse too.
      But I want to be healthy and normal and live my life.
      My sex drive has arrived. And that is an amazing feeling. To know there is nothing you can’t do, because you have done everything already and just didn’t know it.

  27. Shelli says:

    The business of medicine has been elevated for far too long. People, it is just a business. And a multi-billion $$ one. We need a paradigm shift. Soon. Doctors are nothing more then consultants that we pay money to for their expertise, just like we pay money to accountants, attorneys, or electricians. I’m going to say it again: We pay them $$ – it may be in the form of insurance premiums, but in the end, it’s our money that funds their salaries. To that end it is crucial that we are keenly aware that in this relationship, we hold all the control. That’s business. We need to erase the demeaning word “patient” from our lexicon, and start thinking of ourselves as clients. We hire Docs, and we can fire docs. We need to collectively start acting like clients – all of us – men and women- and stop acting like children in the presence of a doc. We need to step up to a plane higher than where they may see themselves – in any business, the one with the money is the holder of the power. Question them; demand that they produce defensible hard researchable data. Make it clear to docs that they work for you and you are the one in control. We only put them on a pedestal because we’ve been socially conditioned to do so. I quit doing so years ago. And I’ve pissed some off because I refuse to see them as anything beyond consultants. I truly feel that this shift in thinking is necessary for our health, both physical and mental. As far as all this absurd “gyn” crap – this exists as nothing more than a contributor to the systemic oppression of women. Do you all know what the number one killer of women is? Heart disease. But I’m willing to bet that almost none of these women who blindly spread their legs and submit to instruments up their cooters ever see a cardiologist once a year. They’ve drunk the koolaid, sadly. They have fallen for all the rhetoric about how their vaginas are just hanging out down there waiting to kill them. Yes, there are small risks to not having your vajayjay scrutinized. There are also small risks to not having bone scans to look for bone cancer, or scans to look for pancreatic cancer. There is zero evidence that submitting to the form of molestation that we fondly call “pelvic exams” extends the average lifespan of a female. It does not. At all. Docs do not want you to know that. Why would they? Women, you hold the power to send this profession 100% bankrupt. Stop drinking the koolaid and stop spreading your legs! What is wrong with you???

    • Gail says:

      Hi Shell, I wrote about my experience with a doctor, n how he molested me in a so called pelvic exam. Apparently my vagina goes right up past my belly button. The mongrel did that very quickly w his hands n then had the gall to stare me down n say, “you have just been assaulted by the nice kind Dr B……..”. Since I went to the police other women have come forward n he is getting investigated thoroughly for all the last 30 years or so. The threat was that if I told no one would believe me. His name is blackened forever n he is being watched. The investigation could go for another year. My health has suffered because if the attack. I just want him to be held accountable. It’s a pity so many of us have suffered already. He deserves to go to jail.

      • Shelli says:

        OMG, Gail!!! I had to read your post over again – that is insane!!! May that piece of filth be locked up forever – and may he get gang raped in prison, to get a taste of how it feels!

    • Chrissy (UK) says:

      “Do you all know what the number one killer of women is? Heart disease. But I’m willing to bet that almost none of these women who blindly spread their legs and submit to instruments up their cooters ever see a cardiologist once a year.”

      Absolutely spot on Shelli, great comment.

      • Shelli says:

        Chrissy, even with the NHS in the U.K., your taxes fund the doc’s salaries. They work for you!! You are ultimately their employer!

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