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.

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 home HPV self test kits:



  1. I thought we were the only site that supports the right to refuse apps. I found a a blog by Dr. Joel Sherman. “Informed Vincent is misssing from Pap smears.” The comments for a breath of greasy air. Other woman are waking up. This my have been mentioned on heAr before but I had to let everyone know.

    • Thank you for pointing to Joel Sherman’s article. I’ll bet he caught a great deal of flack from the medical community for that. I just posted the article to my FB page. I have posted statistics on there before about gyn “exams” etc. And I get a lot of push back. Not surprising. But if I can reach one or two people, it will be worth. I don’t know how long it will take women to accept this “pelvic exam” hoax has been nothing but systemic oppression of women and a money maker. It ma never happen with my generation; maybe my daughter’s?

      • That’s what I keep thinking. Too late for me, but so worried for my daughter who is going to come in for all this crap in a few years time. I can’t sit back and do nothing. We have to do it for them.

      • That’s great the you made others aware of Dr. Shermans bling. It might open some womans eyes about this subject.

      • On a side note has anyone noticed more sensorship on the questioning of these exams? Especially on google searches?

      • Kleigh, I’ve been looking for the MNT (Medical News Today) website which had posts going back years called something like “Low uptake of screening due to painful process”. A number of us and many other UK women had posted on here, and it seems to have disappeared.
        I also had an email reply to 2 of my posts on the NHS website which had been stuck with the moderator for weeks. They didn’t get posted, but I got a personal reply.
        Yes, I do think they are out there “clearing up” the internet. I do hope nothing happens to this site. It should go down in history as a record of women’s suffering at the hands of the medical profession.

      • I would hope no censoring is going on. The medical lobby in the US is pretty strong; I have no clue what influence they have over media and search results in the internet. I wanted to share something; I’m back in school for the second time in my life, and I’m currently taking a research class, using statistics, etc. Not my favorite thing to do, but it’s helping me learn data management, which helps me with self educating on all this medical stuff I abhor. The other day, our professor said something very simple, and very profound: Correlation does not mean causation. And she went on to say that all good research must take into account many different variables before reaching conclusions. I thought of the propaganda about CC going “down due to pap testing” or alternatively CC going back up again because women weren’t getting pap tested enough. Which is not only a blatent lie, but it’s crap. This is what the medical establishment is doing: taking “research” and reaching erroneous conclusions designed to instill fear and generate money. At our expense. All the more reason we just need to ignore it all, educate our daughters to stay in charge of their own bodies and ignore any “invitations” they receive, and just get on with our lives. My daughter is now in her 20s and I really need to talk to her about my decision to stop all this gyn nonsense, and why. I just want her to make her own informed decision about her own body and her health care.

      • When I have searched for any advocacy efforts against this medical misinformation, I have a very hard time finding anything. It took me a long time to stumble onto this site, as a matter of fact. I can’t beleive there isn’t more advocacy going on out there against this systemic harassment. There is a another forum called “Women Against Stirrips” which I haven’t looked for in a while. Are there any other groups out there? I have weighed in in other medical sites about this issue, and as I’m sure you can all imagine, I get eviscerated every time.

      • What exactly is Daily Fail? (I’m in the US; I seem to be the Lone Ranger in the US on this site. Guess that shows how far away American women are to coming to their senses.)

        Thanks, Shelli

      • Click to access 9f05540bc54cfb7948898f5c43649872fe9a.pdf

        Well I no sooner was bemoaning the lack of any research or advocacy in the US about pelvic exam harassment, than I did some googling and found this article. I scanned the beginning, need to read the rest. It appears to be set up in reference to some regulatory frameworks about using public aid funds in the US. This just makes me hate the medical profession even more than I already do.

      • I haven’t noticed Google myself but trying to get anything posted on Daily Fail that’s not a “smear tests save lives” post usually falls foul of the moderator.

      • Shelli, the “Daily Fail” is actually the British tabloid “Daily Mail.” ( I think you and I are among only a few US posters here. Women against stirrups is still around, just not as active as it once was. I had seen and enjoyed your postings there from several years ago, glad you found your way here!

  2. Shelli, I’ve been posting on websites that self-testing should be an option, and even the odious Jo’s Tosh is now campaigning for self-testing, however, about 2 years ago, I did get a response from a very influential professor in this field telling me that self-testing would never be a part of the British programme. I think Jo’s are pushing, because at the current rate of attrition, there won’t be anybody left in the programme if they don’t, so hopefully, this will force a rethink. I have seen one woman post that she’s postponing screening until the HPV test comes out. Might be a long wait, as it’s now been postponed until Dec 2019.
    As far as the legality issue goes, the act of sending women all these demands has become illegal in UK since 1998, but the British government introduced a new law called Section 251 which means that in the face of a national disease epidemic, the population can be sent call up letters for medical testing. I can hear you say that cervical cancer is hardly a national epidemic, so they got a “research” paper published about this time called, “The cervical cancer epidemic that screening has prevented in the UK,” J. Peto which all NHS literature refers back to and has become the sole source of “evidence” our programme is based on. It’s the one that also claims the programme saves 5,000 lives every year, and uses projections from way back to show how the UK would be swamped with cervical cancer if it wasn’t for our glorious programme. Just about all new UK research papers I’ve seen always refer back to this one paper by Peto.

    • No wonder they get so tetchy online when we question their efficacy as it would no longer be deemed an “epidemic”! They can send as many letters out as they like, but they cannot get around the concept of consent. No consent = no test. The power really is in women’s hands but the lengths the screening authorities are going to to cling onto its survival is worrying. What will happen when the attendance level fall far below the threshold? Will they eventually and reluctantly concede defeat? Or are we looking at draconian methods such as compulsory call-ups to reinvigorate the screening programme. I thought primary HPV testing would change the direction of this programme but I seem to be wrong. The NHS/ Whoever really is determined to make sure screening survives at all costs. The good news is that so far, younger women are resisting these efforts as the numbers are dropping further and further every year.

      • Hopefully the figures will fall under the 70% viable threshold about next March, which is why we can expect a whole vomit load of pink propaganda being aired at this time, including the new Channel 4 biopic of Jade Goody, which is in production at the moment. Yes it’s the 10 year anniversary of her death, so expect it to be everywhere. Pleased to see a lot of people posting what an ignorant, racist bully she was, so hopefully the passing of the years will have allowed people to turn more against her and it won’t get the support they are expecting it to.

  3. from what I was reading Ms Goody seems to have had high risk problems from the start and had treatment before she went intoo the original big bore house. for abnormal cells etc. Then why oh why did this wonderous intrusive test not go on to save her like they are screaming out. Because she is the perfect icon to bully women into these unreliable tests.

  4. Jade Goody had adenocarcinoma of the cervix, this type of cc is usually missed by smear testing but that doesn’t stop these programs from using these cases to sell smear tests. It’s considered fine to mislead women in this way. It may be women have passed away or ended up having a hysterectomy because they relied on a false negative smear test.
    When you lie to women, the focus is the program…not the welfare of women.
    Goody also had treatment for abnormal cells at 16 or so…a teenager should never be pap tested in the first place. There’s no doubt in my mind she was over-treated. I recall Goody saying that early experience traumatized her. Pretty shocking that they still intend to lie and use Jade Goody to sell smears…ten years after her death.

  5. I tend to avoid this issue a lot (which is why I have not posted on here for a while. It isn’t the fabulous community and the contributors I avoud, it’s the whole screening agenda). It just riles me up to such an extent that I feel I need to forget about it for a while as I made the decision long ago that screening would never be a part of my life.
    However, after a period of relative calm, I’ve noticed a mini-avalanche of “awareness” surrounding this issue, and it reminds me that there is more work to be done.
    The key is informing women to allow them to make their own decisions, I think and to encourage them to stand firm should they wish to refuse testing. I still post online whenever I can (especially the Daily Fail), and the number of supportive comments and upvotes increase every time I go on there. I recall an article they posted around two years ago which even illuminated the problems with cervical screening, so bit by bit, the enthusiasm is cooling.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking of more ways to highlight informed consent. The rights of women in the context of inappropriate touching has been very prominent of late a la the #MeToo campaign. Women are entering further education like never before and they all have access to information about screening via the internet. Surely, you’d think that doctors would be aware that more women are aware that they can refuse this test.

    Spurred on by a recent experience with my GP, I’m contemplating writing to my practice, reminding them of their legal obligations to adhere to informed consent and telling them that a great many of my female friends and relatives are on their books, so if I am made aware of any potential coercion falling foul of the law, I will be encouraging them to take matters further.
    I’m not sure what to make of this. Not saying it will at all be useful but it’s grounded in the theory that nurses and doctors might be a little more cautious in adopting high-pressure tactics in the current climate, as opposed to the eighties and nineties when they operated without license.
    I might be tempted to write further to other practices reminding them of their legal obligations to respect informed consent.

    I don’t like thinking that any of these places might enjoy a spike in screening numbers due to pressure tactics, so just throwing that idea out there.

    Goid grief, I hate these people.

    • I appreciate your words. And that informed consent must include the indisputable scientifically validated data that cervical cancer is rare, and other occurrences of illness and death in women are much more prevalent, and should be focused on instead. And yes, in the end, it’s our choice, which is to be accepted with no arguing.

  6. also reading on this further she also had further testing which came in clear , a large tumour was then acually missed by the hospital which goes to prove how unreliable these tests are. It seems that her widower is also being an antagonist in these matters stating she never went to the follow up appointments ???? I agree wholehartidly that these screening programmes are not contusive to womens health but no more than a sales tactic. I used to work in a call center selling insurance and were always told to push the benefits and any disadvantages placed on the back burner foir the buyer to figure out themselves when too late. Same with the screeing programme push and push the possitives and all the negatives pushed away so they can get maximum slaes figures.

  7. Hi everyone. I’m in the US and i’ve followed FWEO for many years. I am so thankful for this site. It has given me piece of mind (i was right!), and helped me advocate for myself on more then one occasion.
    My mom pressured me to have my first pap at 17 when it was suggested by the doctor. It led to repeat paps and colposcopy. HPV+ Everything you would expect to happen when testing a 17 year old! Life events caused my mom to lose her insurance and i moved out and put all that stuff behind me. Luckily i got out of there before any treatment was recommended.
    Fast forward 6 years and i was pregnant with my first. Without consent or discussion, it was just sprung on me at my first prenatal appointment. The whole thing rubbed me the wrong way and made me feel gross. I already was dreading all the poking and prodding that’s deemed acceptable when you’re pregnant. The only good thing to come out of it was a normal pap and HPV- result. Proof!
    I started reading articles and comments here and i felt not crazy, and more confident in my choice to screen, or not screen. I am not reckless or immature. I’ve gone on to have another by baby and been prescribed birth control, all while standing my ground and having my decisions respectfully honored. I love this site and all the women who share stories and information here. Thank you

    • Hi Eva, I’m in my 39snow and have avoided doctors and my last pelvic exam was 17. Now I’m thinking if I do choose to get pregnant I will absolutely refuse the Pap smear. They can do the transvaginal ultra sound. But I want nothing to do. With the psp. I plane to flat out refuse that. I hate how it’s standard of care hear in the US prenatal care. Do you think they we’ll work with me on that. I will be prepared for a fight and walking out on them if not. From my reading other countries will never do paps on pregnant woman . So it blows my mind it’s part of pregnancy care hear in the states. I am not a robot and whould feel raped if I let them back me into one. Any advice whould be appreciated. I hate to say but I whould conceder Abortion to get out of forced paps.

  8. Hi everyone, haven’t posted on here for a while. Something is really bothering me so I thought I’d share it on here as you will almost certainly understand my frustration. Lately on my Facebook news feed, I’ve been getting nothing but pro-smear test posts being shoved in my face. There’s all of these messages urging women to get their Paps done, someone has created a petition to get the age in my country (UK) lowered. It’s all kicking off! I understand that my female friends are, in their minds, trying to spread awareness and get women “checked out for their own good” but honestly, after chatting with ya’ll and doing research for myself and realising how fallacious the whole thing is, and how there’s so much brainwashing and so many women being forced into spreading their legs and being violated, I just feel sick seeing all that crap in my news feed. Is anyone else here suddenly seeing all of these pro-pap smear posts or is it just me? There seems to be an explosion of them.

    • Hi Lady Neuroscientist – I am in the US, and I am aware of this funded program in UK which harasses women into getting Pap tests, lest their funding be pulled. I was shocked at hearing this, as it seemed like such an American thing to do. Medicine is nothing but a commercial money making endeavor here. I do see quite a lot of “articles” that appear on my Facebook feed about “Women’s Health” which all nauseate me no end. I have tried to educate women, but my audience has mostly been middle aged, and they don’t want to hear it. In fact they get really angry at me. They have been successfully conditioned to believe that their bits are dangerous and will eventually kill them. Maybe we need to start with teaching people how to do some basic research? It’s not hard, once we have the tools. That way women can look at some very real numbers and make their own informed decision. I go to credible sources like the Center for Disease Control, which doesn’t proselytize – it just reports hard numbers. The World Health Organization is a decent source, too. University studies can also be interesting sources, although you have to check where their grant money comes from, and their testing methods. And maybe the best bet is trying to reach younger women, who haven’t been subject to that conditioning yet. Although they’ll likely get an earful from their mothers. In which case there needs to be a campaign on assertiveness training, so young women can tell their moms to get out of their vajayjays.

  9. Hi. I haven’t come across this as I don’t do Facebook.

    The powers that be are trying hard to ‘ensnare’ young women into the programme as numbers attending their ‘invitations’ are in freefall.

    They have taken to social media to get their message over as this is where most people hang out these days. I think most young women are aware of the pitfalls of screening and will ignore this latest campaign.

  10. Sorry I’m a bit late to the game here! I have a serious problem that hasn’t let me sleep at night for a couple of weeks now…warning this will be a rather TMI-filled post, but I need help.

    I have PTSD (diagnosed two months ago, but I had been showing symptoms for a long time) from being abused as a child. The abuse involved doctors but most of it was not sexual in any way. However I have a strong distaste for doctors and avoid them whenever possible. I am about to graduate from a very good college with a biology degree, so I usually know what is going on with my body, and I don’t feel like I need routine care—I am an athlete, eat a lot of organic food, you get the idea. Also for reference I’m a 21 year old virgin.

    One complication of PTSD that a lot of people don’t know about is very very very severe menstrual pain…in the absence of any diagnosable pathology. I have severe bleeding issues (have had for three years, when PTSD symptoms first started) involving extreme shooting pains, chunks of my flesh ripping out, and bloating to the point that I look like I am three months pregnant. It keeps getting worse, and people have started noticing and commenting when I suddenly scream and fall to the ground in pain. One of my friends, also with PTSD, had the same thing, was put on like ten different drugs, told she had endo…they did the laparoscopy and found NOTHING. There is no diagnosis that can be given; the problems arise from a system of cranial nerves that extends towards the gut.

    I cannot tolerate pills (even Tylenol gives me side effects) and from what I’ve read about endometrial ablation, it doesn’t work in the long run. So of course the only solution…would be a hysterectomy. I’m fine with that; I don’t want kids. I have also located very specialized surgeons—some of the best in the country—who take my health insurance. I started making some phone calls today to get registered as a “new patient.”

    I told the receptionist that I did NOT want an exam but only wanted to speak to the doctor regarding potential surgery options. The receptionist literally said she could schedule me, but did not know what would in reality go down in the exam room. Not reassuring.

    What I envision will happen: I will refuse an “exam,” and the doctor will refuse to help actually treat my condition (ie, conduct a surgery which, being solely through my abdomen, should not require shoving anything up my vagina). Im afraid I will 1. Have a panic attack, like last time or 2. Sprint out of the hospital, like last time, or 3. Not receive care I actually need and stay in pain indefinitely.

    Any suggestions from someone with slightly more experience?

    • Hi Emily.

      I’m not a doctor so i can’t really cant help with your symptoms. However i do know you have the right to refuse any intimate examinations you dont want.

      What you are up against is a medical mind set that believes it has the right to do anything it wants to us.

      If you go for a consult you will have to be very ‘firm’ with them.

      You could take a wait and see approach. When you are young like you are, we very often panic when something doesn’t appear right and go rushing off to the docs. Most docs have no clue themselves and take a wait and see approach also. Or send you off for further investigations.

      Often the body will heal itself but few dare to chance waiting.

      I would explore other ways of healing yourself first. Ie. the internet then try herbal remedies. Or go to a pharmacy and ask there.

      Sometimes there’s no getting round the fact you may need to visit a GP. Be firm and don’t take any nonsense. Many GP’s think getting into your private place is a game that they must win and they will wear you down til they do.

      Stand firm get the medical care you want.

      Best wishes


  11. Oh no, I feel really sick…

    An abdominal ultrasound has been arranged for me to check all of my organs and including my female reproductive organs because I’ve been having weird symptoms lately. Well I have just got the letter through and guess what the hell is on there?

    It says I will be offered a transvaginal ultrasound!! I have nearly had a full blown panic. I know it says I will be “offered” so I can decline and I swear I’m freaking declining. I am no way spreading my legs and having some probe stuck into me when the scan can be done just externally and show the ovaries and everything just fine.

    I nearly cried when I read that letter. I dont want to be over-dramatic but my god, I didn’t think it would say that. I thought it was purely external and that’s it….. 😰

    • Highlight the bit where it states “offered”. Underline it to make your point, and take the letter with you.

      If possible, get them to focus and do the external scan first. Say that you want that done first and will discuss the transvaginal scan afterwards.

      Hopefully, they’ll oblige thinkibg that you will just go along with the transvaginal one.

      Then when the external one’s done, say thanks, but no thanks to the transvaginal. Show the letter to make the point.

      Be prepared to tell them that legally, you are entitled to refuse it. Say you know it’s recommended, rather than “required”.

      In these sorts of situations, I always use certain “buzzwords” to alert them to the fact that I know what I’m talking about, and moreover, that I’m aware of my rights.

      I always say, “I’ve made an informed decision”. In my experience (though I live in the UK), they back down. Buzzwords like, “I’m not legally required to submit to this”, “I do not consent to this procedure” etc should put them on guard.

      You can also use body language to emphasise the point. Sit-up, cross your arms, stand up, gather your belongings together to leave and speak calmly and firmly (I’ve found that I have done these things subconsciously without even realising). If they harp on like fishwives, say, “I’ve made my decision” or “I don’t feel there is anything further to discuss – thank you”.
      Stay polite and keep it short and sweet. Do not get into a discussion with them as they’ll keep it going as long as they can. A firm response means the conversation is (usually) stopped in its tracks. I have always found this the best way to communicate with doctors – especially men.

      It’s hard and extremely daunting but you can do it and you will feel so much better for doing it. I wish you luck!

      • Thank you so much for your advice! It is much appreciated. I have felt so shit today after seeing that on the letter. I will be polite but firm with them and let them know I’m not comfortable with the whole thing. I didn’t sign up for a wand with a condom on it being put into me, This whole thing was about an ABDOMINAL scan. The doctor never warned me I would be “offered” a vag scan.

    • Had the same shit in 2013. I’m in UK.
      I had a referral for postmenopausal bleeding and thought the ultrasound would be the abdominal one that I had when I was pregnant, so I was not altogether too upset about going. The bitch of a doctor of mine didn’t warn me about anything else, and it was only when I got to the hospital that I realised it takes place in a pitch dark room where you can’t see anything that’s going on. I had never even heard of such a thing as a transvaginal one. I thought just how big is this darn thing? Gyno saw look of horror on my face as he tried to describe it, and said they put a condom on it.
      I’d heard enough. The symptoms had cleared for a while so I picked up my bag and legged it.
      Unfortunately I had further bleeding weeks later and had to go back, but this time I was referred to a lovely lady, who had clearly had experience and training with assault victims. These specialists do exist. It was not painful and not as big as a man’s penis. I asked her why I couldn’t just have the abdominal one and she said they can’t get right down to the lower cervical area with those ones. Can you ask why they need to get so low down if your problems might not be there. Can you say you’ve been assaulted in the past and ask to see someone for a more sensitive appointment?

      • Hi Emily and the two other ladies – Emily, my first thought when you described your fear of having a panic attack/running out of the building during the Dr. appointment was can you take someone with a strong assertive personality with you? Might you have any assertive guy friends? I once had an issue with an unpleasant arrogant male rheumatologist and for my second visit, I had my husband come with me. It definitely had a chilling effect on the dr. If that is not an option, I would search for female surgeons, and then call their offices and ask the staff if she has had trauma training. They’ll probably say “I don’t know” in which case ask them to have a nurse call you with the information. And when you do go for your visit, don’t undress, keep your coat on, keep your handbag and car keys in your lap, and be ready to walk if she cops an attitude. Your request for hysterectomy isn’t urgent, and you can take your time with this. Transvag ultrasound is weird. I’ve had it done twice. I don’t like it one bit. The attitude of the technician goes a long way to set the tone. A good tech will keep you covered; they have zero need to look at anything but the screen. They allow you to insert the wand yourself, and then they reach under the sheet so you can pass it off to them. It’s understandable that someone would not want to do this. I would bring the “offer letter” and as others suggested, underline “offered” and write in next to it “DECLINED.” Red ink. All caps. And if they harass you, leave.

      • You see that’s the weird thing…I believe my symptoms may be due to my thyroid or some other issue (I actually have most of the symptoms of an overactive thyroid) which can cause period problems and also stomach issues as well as many other things. There’s hardly anything to suggest symptom-wise that I have a problem with my female health except just the irregular, lighter menstrual cycle (which can have many causes.) Not sure why they are straight away talking about sticking a probe into my nether region, seems a little fast to me. I was going to tell the doctor about my concerns regarding my thyroid but you’re apparently only allowed to talk about one specific issue now at the doc appointments (that’s what they seem to only allow you to do, they seem to be eager to get rid of you a lot of the time…) so I had to just focus on my stomach and the doc asked me about my periods and that’s when I told her about all that. I don’t know, it gives me anxiety to be completely honest. I’m just gonna have to go through with the abdominal scan and tell them that I’m not comfortable about having the transvaginal one.

        I will be booking another appointment in the New Year to discuss my thyroid concerns if I’m still getting symptoms and nothing shows up on the scan which I don’t think it will (hopefully not!!!)

      • Hopefully they will get all they need from the abdominal scan. Seeing as they can get quite low down with it, I don’t see why they should change if you’re not happy about it. Best wishes.🤗

  12. Hi everyone, not a post about “women’s health” (RME) but I had an appointment yesterday with another specialist, and their attitude irked me. She spoke to me like I was 3 years old; kept patting me; etc. It’s this damned patriarchal, dominant white male paradigm that pervades this industry. I try to communicate to them that I am the client, and they are the provider of a service. As I’m the client, it’s my money and they are here to serve me on my terms. This is a business transaction. I never undress, regardless of what the nurse says to do. When the doc enters the room, I stand up to my full Height. I look them in the eye. I reach out and shake their hand. This is business. If it’s a male doc, I squeeze the crap out of their hand. If they seat them selves, I seat myself. I will not sit while they stand and look down on me. I speak in a firm clear voice. I probably get talked about when I leave – “She was so pushy! What a b*tch!” I wish more people would start acting this way in the presence of med personnel. So many people just blindly do things in a doc office that they’re told. And sit there like meek children in their presence. We need to think “accountant” “attorney” “electrician” when consulting with med staff. They are consultants. We need to start dismantling this overarching patriarchal attitude, which spills over into the women’s health arena. And a lot of that starts with our collective attitude and pushing back. I am never impolite. But I am firm. Thoughts?

    • I always stand up and shake the hand of any person I meet. I’m very tall and I usually look down on them. This helps of course if I’m feeling particularly prickly and confrontational. If any doctor started to talk to me like a child or patted me, I would remind them that I am an educated woman and I do not appreciate their patronising tone and that they do not have my consent to touch me. I am the client. They are providing a service. My builder wouldn’t pat my knee, as it could be classed as a sexual assault. Why do doctors think it ok for them to do it?

    • What’s striking is that doctors both male and female (the females are operating within a paternal paradigm), are very attuned to female psychology. They know that pressure tactics such as, “you must”, “you should”, or “you’re required” often works. If not, it’s, “you’re irresponsible”, “think of your family”, “this could save your life”. They know that pressure and guilt-tripping women works.

      As women, most of us are not so good at reading theirs. I feel in order to get them to take the hint, we need to communicate to them in a language that they understand. So I certainly agree that we should all be treating this as a business transaction. That means no explaining why you don’t want screening, no display of emotion, no submission to guilt-tripping tactitcs or coercive language. Knowing that GPs are collecting data at every opportunity, I always try to tell them as little as possible (unless it’s related to symptoms for an on-going condition), and no opening up. These people are not friends, they are not to be trusted and if you were to get into a discussion with them about screening, they’d twist whatever you say to imply that you’re “scared” or misinformed and come up with innovative suggestions to overcome barriers to screening.
      You only need give very brief responses and NO explanations.

      If I ever get a blank (which happens a lot), I at least remember to say I’ve made an informed decision not to screen, and if the harping continues, I’ll make sure to mention that by law, I can refuse any medical procedure or treatment. That should at least be the point where alarm bells ring and they back off!

  13. Thank you, Apocalyptic Queen, for your wise words. You are so correct. Maintain distance, reveal nothing. I have actually thought of coming right out and saying “You have been educated under a patriarchal dominant white male paradigm.” And then fall silent and let them sit there trying to wrap their brain around that. Their eyes would glaze over! I haven’t don’t that yet, but I think if I ever were harassed, I’d be tempted. I think I would also be tempted to say “My money. My body. My boundaries.” Don’t you all in the UK pay hefty taxes that fund the NHS? Telling them it’s your money reinforces the idea that this is just a business transaction. We are purchasing a service. And “My body, my boundaries” communicates that they do NOT get access to our private areas, and that we regard such harasssment about our private body parts tantamount to sexual assault. These medical morons want us to believe that medical “procedures” in our private parts is non sexual. Bullsh*t. We do not distinguish between gyn and sex offender.

  14. * Yours was 1 of the articles I found once I finally decided to find out if other women felt the same way. Thank You

    Today was going to be just another typical day. I had an audition, then a five hour photo shoot. At the audition office, I patiently waited to be called in, knowing I had to be on set in 20 minutes. Finally, they called me in, I sat in front of the camera. The director and her other female assistant explained the purpose of the spot. They were trying to destigmatize the embarrassment of female issues such as periods and their symptoms, leaky bladders, and more. The profits from the sales of the product would partly be used to donate feminine products to women and young ladies who don’t have access to them, and consequently miss school and/or work. I was handed a script and told to read whichever spot spoke to me. One of them basically described how I’ve felt on and off for several years, but constantly these past several months.
    It said something like this:

    My body is hiding a secret. I’m constantly trying to “fix” it. I am not a problem, My body is not broken.

    I read this to camera over and over because I couldn’t get it out smoothly. After starting to internalize what I was repeating out loud, really to myself, I lost it again. The tears started pouring, I briefly explained what I’d been struggling with to the director. The two women were very comforting, and patently waited for me to finish my audition until I was satisfied. But for my reaction to really make sense, I would’ve had to start from the beginning.

    When I was 19, I went in for my first pelvic exam at the Student Health Center, CSUN. I was nervous, but didn’t really think anything of it since I knew it was routine and hadn’t heard much about it. My doctor barely looked at me while she asked the routine questions and wrote in her notes. As I laid face up, feet in stirrups, my naked bottom half spread eagle in a stranger’s face, I tried not to look at the gigantic plastic speculum waiting on the tray next to me. The doctor told me when she was inserting it, and told me to relax. I concentrated on doing just that. She then forced the speculum inside of me and condescendingly said “It’s just gonna hurt more if you tighten.”

    I froze. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t breathe, talk, or move any part of body. The insertion, opening, and swabbing of my cervix with a long Q-tip probably took 60 seconds or less, but it felt like an eternity. When she finally removed the speculum I just quietly waited for her to leave the room. The second I was alone I started bawling. I struggled to get my clothes back on because I still had the feeling of being paralyzed for some reason. It was like trying to run during a nightmare, but you end up moving only in slow motion. I didn’t want to be in that room a second longer, but I also wasn’t ready to face the world outside. There was no safe space to gather myself and be comfortable again. After the appointment, I think I went back to my dorm and got in bed. I was sore for at least another 24 hours.

    6 years later I found myself having vaginal discomfort. I didn’t have a primary care doctor so I went to Planned Parenthood. As soon as this doctor told me she would have to do an internal pelvic exam, I completeley lost it. However, after explaining my past experience she was very understanding, cracked jokes trying to ease my nerves, and found an extremley small “Vienna sausage” speculum, as she called it. I finished the exam, got antibiotics for a bacterial infection from reception, went to my car and called my best friend, all the while, still sobbing.

    I am now 36 years old. Seeing photos of speculums freaks me out, thinking about even calling to make an appointment for a pelvic exam makes my eyes water. Just my luck, this past year was plagued with chronic UTIs and other vaginal health issues. I’ve seen so many doctors, but no one can seem to fix the problem longterm. I avoided it as much as I could, but eventually agreed to get a proper pelvic exam.
    A nurse I’d seen prior advised my current doctor that I’d probably need a sedative in order to do the exam. Well, she didn’t believe her. I had a feeling that she wouldn’t, so I took half of a “special” brownie before the appointment. Then, the time came for the exam. The doctor gently started to insert the speculum, I concentrated on breathing deeply and relaxing, but my maximum pain tolerance had been reached. She told me to let her know when she could start to open the speculum. What?! The idea of this foreign object inside me opening even MORE broke me. I started crying out of pain and frustration. “Are you okay?” She said. “No.”
    So, I’d have to wait two more months to be put under anesthesia on an operating table, just to get a pelvic exam. By this time I had been dealing on and off with an uncomfortable vagina for about 7months. I was so over it. Even though my partner at the time was completely understanding and patient, I was not. I pushed him away a few times. I felt guilty for not wanting to share myself with him and not having the desire to be intimate at all. This whole thing was making me insecure and depressed at times. I wanted to isolate myself from everyone including my favorite person to spend time with. I thought he should be with a woman, with a “normal” vagina. Really, I had to train my brain to stop putting pressure on myself.
    Anyway, last Monday was the big day. I had to get a blood test, wait in a bed about 6 hours with a painful IV needle sticking out my hand, just for a super simple exam. As I laid face up on the hospital bed, once again, the nurse pushed me down the hallway. I thought to myself how rediculous it was that I couldn’t do something so simple. A billion women do this everyday! What’s wrong with me?! Finally they rolled me past the huge doors that read “SURGERY ROOM” in big red letters. I laid in the middle of the operating room while nurses bustled around me, staring up at the oversized surgery lights hovering above me. I had frozen again. It was also the first time I’d ever heard my pulse on a monitor, which made me even more nervous. Finally, my IV was connected so I could start to fall asleep. However, there were air bubbles in my IV tube which triggered an exploding vein sensation at the injection site in my hand. That shit hurt! It repeated with every drop. Once again, I lost it. The tears and sobbing started. A nurse stood over me trying to calm me down, caressing the sides of my face. Then, I guess, I was out.
    I woke up feeling perfectly fine. No soreness, except for the pain in my hand which lasted about 5 days.

    So, what is my problem? I have to wait 3weeks to hear if I had any abnormal test results. But, what’s my “mechanical” problem? Well, one day I Googled. It’s funny how finding out you’re not the only person experiencing something can be so comforting. I read several stories from women experiencing the same emotional and physical trauma I have when it comes to pelvic exams. Several women take prescription sedatives before, there was even a case of someone passing out during an exam. A couple women talked about the long frustrating process of finally being diagnosed with Vaginismus, the involuntary tightening of the vagina. My doctor suggested that I might have this.

    So, why don’t we hear about the struggles of Pelvic exams, when its obviously a common traumatizing experience? We’re made to think that we should be perfectly fine laying spread eagle in a cold uncomfortable room, naked, with a stranger’s face in our crotches pushing a large plastic device into the most sensitive part of our bodies. Oh yeah, then they have to expand that device inside of you and swipe your insides with q-tips. WTH!!! That’s not normal, of course it’s traumatizing.

    Anyway, I kept thinking of those lines I had to say to myself out loud repeatedly today, and on camera. Even though I’ve said these things to other loved ones when trying to encourage them, I had never said them to myself.

    No one should feel flawed for NOT being ok with being touched in an undesirable way. So many doctors made me feel like there was something wrong with me! I’m still learning that there are ALWAYS other people going through the same thing, no matter how alienated you feel in your specific struggle. And of course, all of us will have health challenges at some point, that doesn’t make us less valuable people when that time comes. Our bodies can bring challenges and frustrations, but they are a part of us. They need appreciation and care. Don’t ignore them, or be angry. Be patient. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with YOU, you’re not a freak, an inconvenience, or a problem.

  15. This is so beautifully written, Dawn. Thank you for sharing such a painful story. Women have been pathologized for years just for having female reproductive organs. If you are a female, then you must find yourself a gyn and submit to repeated analysis between your legs to “make sure everything is alright.” ???? Why would it not be OK??? There is a huge range of “normal.” There is nothing about being female that carries an inherent pathology!! I really loved the phrases that you recited for the ad you were filming. Further, women have been told that there is something wrong with them if they don’t want instruments rammed up them! Even women tell other women that. Well the truth is that there is something very wrong with women who just lay there with their legs open thinking that there is anything remotely normal about being ogled and felt up. That whole ugly business of “pelvic exams” is nothing but legal sexual assault, and intelligent, educated women (such as all of us here who bother to THINK, and SELF EDUCATE) know that there is no normalizing of this assault on our bodies.

  16. Thank you so much for this post. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this is a violation and pressuring women is wrong. I’ve felt guilty for years for not going to get a pelvic exam because everyone around me is beating it into me that it’s absolutely necessary. But no matter who performs the exam and how nice they are, I feel like I’m being raped. It’s traumatizing and I experience overwhelming PTSD symptoms for weeks before and after.

    • Hi Charyl – I am so sorry that you are being pressured to engage in a behavior that you instinctively know is wrong. Who are these people pressuring you? Private areas of your body belong only to you, and are not up for discussion. Please tell people who butt into your business that you will not be discussing such a private topic with them. Then put in your ear buds and ignore them. There is nothing wrong with you. You have nothing to feel guilty about. My experience has been that discussing this matter even with other women brings mixed results. Women often try to shame other women into getting violated (“Grow up!” “You are being ridiculous.” etc etc) I would invite them to examine their beliefs. This whole pelvic exam thing is a 20th century paradigm that has only existed over the last 75 years or so. Medical science decided that there was power to be had and money to be made off of women’s genitalia. They got away with this by scaring women with the risk of reproductive cancer, which as everyone on this site knows, is rare. Women (in America) are at greater risk of being diagnosed with, and dying from, pancreatic cancer (also rare), than reproductive cancers. So why have women chosen to believe that they are in clear and present danger of dying of a reproductive cancer? In my opinion, the root cause is due to our beliefs about the medical profession. Somewhere along the way, people (including women) decided that doctors are “better” than other people. People believed they were smarter (we know that is not true); people believed that they cared about humanity and that was their primary focus (we know that is untrue); people believed that they worked “harder” than other people worked (we know that is 100% untrue); people believed that they “know” more (more vocabulary words, maybe, but in general – my experience has been that they know less, due to the constrained silos in which they exist day to day.) And above all, people believed that doctors were on a higher plane than other humans, such that they didn’t possess lowly human urges, or desires, or didn’t have any visceral reactions what so ever upon seeing naked bodies or genitals. That to them, “it was nothing.” It was all just “medical” (an adjective that lives only in our psyches.) And people believed that doctors only spoke the truth about “medical” matters (which we know is absolutely not the case.) People, especially women, had to make themselves believe these things to square with the ritual of opening their legs and getting felt up – which they felt they had to do, lest they die from their inherently diseased reproductive organs. The people around you Charyl have been mightily conditioned. They have bought into untrue information, propagated by a profession that is full of unsavory characters who are highly invested in profit and in keeping women oppressed and unempowered. Pity them. And put in your ear buds.

  17. Okay, I’m terrified of doctors (every kind ), but this article seems too much even to me. And trust me, I’ve been traumatized enough by different types of doctors, nurses and assistants. I know by personal experience that there are many truly awful docs but these cases like mine or the ones in this article are extremities, thankfully. I’m sure many doctors are simply doing their job. Plus it’s not like going to the gynecologist is a written law. Any woman can choose not to go. I know it would be a terrible experience for me, so I’m not going. End of story.

    • Absolutely, you have a right to make your own choices. There is no evidence to support regular exams in healthy women are a good idea. In fact it suggests the opposite.

      What annoys lot of ladies at this site is there is an expectation women will see a gyn doc or submit to screening. As you say it’s not the law but yet many either act like it is or treat women that make their own decisions like they’re stupid.

      I’m glad you’re firm in your decision and happy with it. Good for you!

    • I don’t think it serves our cause if we shame “promiscuous women” and equate “broken hymen” with “not a virgin”. The last one could scare women who *need* medical attention, and believe they will come out of the exam “sullied” oor “impure”.

      • These women DO need to know that if they have the exam, it is equivalent to s*xual intercourse, even if the exam was “necessary”. It’s akin to a 50 year old v*rgin who decides to sleep with a random man in order to have a baby before menopause only to meet her husband the day afterward. The fact that the s*x was for a medical reason still does not negate the fact that she had it.

        Getting a pap smear for a medical reason is tough and should be avoided, but it should still be recognized that the exam is s*xual intercourse.

      • The exam is not “sexual intercourse”, which is a term reserved for a penis entering a vagina.

        This is manual sex or sex by instrumentation. It can or will break the hymen, stretch the vagina. There’s no chance of pregnancy from it (unless the good doctor inseminates her at the same time). It’s more like being finger f**ked or using a sex toy – but there are many sex toys which are safer than ones that feature blades!

        Sex for a medical reason? Do you mean like 100 years ago when doctors “treated” women for “hysteria” by fingering them to orgasm? Yes, indeed we do.

        As far as it being “for” the woman, look up the history of the “Sims” position, and “J. Marion Sims” – the “father” of gynecology. He did horrendous experiments on slave women in the Antebellum South (US) on women who were effectively his property, and experimental surgery without anesthesia. We do not accept experiments done by Nazis, but this was just as bad, and we do accept it. See, for instance

      • Finger effing, sex toys, etc….. Thank you bethkz for so eloquently articulating what I have been struggling to articulate myself. Any difference between rape and medical exams is merely in our heads. Our culture has invented a notion about this thing humans call “medicine” and various acts and procedures that we have named “medical” and this notion we have invented is basically that if we call it one word, it is OK. If we call it another word, it is punishable by imprisonment. Humans are odd creatures, aren’t we? The pelvic exam hoax has been a disgusting, violent, horrible piece of history in humanity that we are currently still in the midst of. (And if there is a hell, I can only hope that Marion Sims is there, broiling to a crisp. While I have read some people acknowledge that his experiments on enslaved women were cruel because he used no anesthesia, many people conveniently bypass the other piece of this: He RAPED the women!)

    • Your odds of getting CC even if you are not a virgin are less than 1%. If you are a virgin, your odds are astronomically low. The one exception is the very rare type of CC that is not associated with HPV, which is also not detectable with a pap smear. Be more worried about being killed by a falling meteor though.

      I don’t know about “sullied” or “promiscuous”, but it does break the hymen. One’s first sexual experience should not be with a doctor on a cold exam table, in pain, begging him to stop… I don’t know about “sullied” – that might be more of a cultural thing.

      • Exactly… I wasn’t saying that women who get the exam are sullied, but in some religions it is that way. Women of all religions should know all of the risks, religious and emotional, that are associated with the exam because so many doctors won’t tell them the ENTIRE impact of agreeing to this.

      • My question is.. with all the technology today why hasn’t and ultrasound been invented instead of forcing tools inside woman?

      • Kleigh – I don’t know that an ultrasound could detect a cancer in the cellular stage. But I 100% concur that an alternative to the 60-70 year old pap test could easily have been developed. Here is an example: Cologuard for detecting colon cancer. It does not involve intrusive garden hoses rammed up your butt, is done at home (but later submitted to a lab) and looks at DNA mutations. Why is there nothing alternative to the ritual rape women undergo? Some of it is laziness and resistance to change (by med practitioners). And if they no longer have women in their office to intimidate, they lose that edge of power they so crave. And money. The medical lobby is powerful. Imagine you spent $300,000 on med school (or your rich daddy did), you get out of school with your shiny Gyn specialty – and you need to make an income – do you want a lab test done on women that does not involve you, or do you want women in your office that you can diddle and feel up and charge a lot more money for?

    • Hi Lea – Thank you for being brave enough to take a stand on Quora. I agree with most of what you say. It is virtually impossible to get the HPV virus if one has never had sex. And even if one has had sex, as someone mentioned above, CC is rare and has a really low rate of detection. Pancreatic cancer – another rare cancer – is detected in women at a higher rate than CC. I believe that testing for CC, and other gyn “procedures” do constitute acts of sexual abuse and molestation. I do state as fact that the gyn industry was developed through the lens of a dominant white male paradigm. And while other cultures and women practitioners propagate notions of gyn exams being “necessary,” it is because they too were educated in this dominating White Male paradigm. It is sad and unfortunate. But in the end, it is up to an individual woman – and no one else in her life – whether she “should” see a gyn or not. I always tell people to NEVER ENGAGE with anyone who starts asking why you do not get CC screening, or why you do not want to get a gyn “exam.” Just because someone asks you a question (even a “doctor”) does not mean that you owe that person an answer to their question. All you have to do is STAY CALM, BREATHE, and smile politely and just keep repeating “I’m good. Thank you.” Repeat as many times as you need until they shut up. Never ever remove any clothing at all when you see a doc, even if you are told to. It is seldom ever necessary. Remove nothing. And if a doc or nurse returns to the room and asks why you didn’t remove clothing, again, just stay neutral and pleasant and polite. Just say “Oh it will be fine.” Because it will be fine. You are taking control of your body by not allowing anyone to touch you in any fashion that requires removal of clothing. Again, you may need to repeat this several times. Don’t lose your cool.

      One thing I do disagree with Lea, is characterizing women who enjoy sexual relationships outside of the confines of marriage as immoral or promiscuous, and “bad”. This is a cultural thing. We merely have different beliefs about sex, that’s all. I always advise young women, including my daughter, to just keep condoms in their purse. Otherwise, stay close to your personal beliefs about your body. Take control of your body and take control of your visits with a doc. And do remember that no one – not even a doc – has the right to start grabbing at your body or trying to remove your clothes against your will. If one were to do that, you would need to phone the police ASAP and file a criminal report.

      • I agree. I wasn’t necessarily shaming other women, but I was taking a stand because doctors tend to go harder on v*rgins to get a pap smear for their own sick reasons. However, no one should be forced to get an exam.

        The women that I mentioned in the post became promiscuous after the exam and started having problems that were symptoms of cervical cancer but could not go to the doctor due to the trauma of the exam while they were still v*rgins. Basically, the lack of consent early in life made them unable to make any rational decisions regarding their private parts.

      • > Take control of your body and take control of your visits with a doc. And do remember that no one – not even a doc – has the right to start grabbing at your body or trying to remove your clothes against your will. <

        THIS!!!! Yes, it is YOUR body. John Locke’s idea that “every Man has a Property in his own Person” (Locke 1988, V. 27, 305). That is where the notion of consent comes from, the notions of assault and battery, and one's rights to not be used in experiments without explicit consent – or use the results from experiments where consent was violated as a matter of ethics. Indeed, if you don't "own" your own body, have freedom over what happens to it or is done to it, you don't really have any freedom or rights.

  18. I am reminded of something that happened to my daughter. I am still furious over it. She went to a gyn. My daughter has experienced sexual assault in the past. The whole gyn thing was very triggering for her. Once in the exam room, my daughter broke down and started crying. The damn gyn, instead of being empathic, became angry and belittling to my daughter. And she (the gyn) stomped out of the room, and came back with a med assistant to cover her ass. And still did nothing to sooth my daughter. And my daufhter’s Story isn’t the first like this I’ve heard. What gyns do to women is ugly and abnormal. And when a woman resists – does it throw in the providers face that we know they are pieces of sh*t, and we are on to them and their charlatanry? Is that why they get so mad?

    • This Link is for a study done in he US And reported by the Center for Disease control. I was curious just how many per-cancers were detected in women annually. Docs always scream about how the only reason that CC rates are dropping are because of Pap tests. Once again – let’s take a deep breath and look at good old fashioned statistics. I love hard data; I love research. And I live my instructor who said a result says nothing about a cause. Depending upon which part of the US a woman was in, detections of precancerous lesions if the cervix averaged between 20 to 70 per 100,000 women in the US per year. Per 100,000. If we assume an average of 45, that’s 0.045%. Tiny percentage. And this does not include positive tests that would have self resolved if they had been left alone. I know a lot of you are from UK. I can’t imagine that your rates would be much different from ours. So the rate of CC is really low, and the rate of precancerous lesions is low. While it’s true hat some women will get CC, most wont. More will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, heart disease (our biggest killer), lung cancer, etc. I hate doctors with a passion, but I will focus my healthcare on my risks: skin cancer and heart disease (which killed my sister at a young age.)

      • I’ve always found it odd how people go on and on at us women about how vital it is we spread our legs and have our intimate parts poked and prodded…Yet research and statistics show it is incredibly rare in relation to other cancers/diseases a woman can get. There’s such a huge fuss about it like it’s this extremely common thing and that our vaginas are practically deadly and need regular monitoring otherwise we’re all doomed.

        I honestly wonder why we aren’t strongly pressured into having our hearts and other organs checked on the regular…As we’re far more likely to die of heart disease or lung cancer than cervical cancer. It all seems so odd to me that we’re not having frequent tests done for the most likely cancers. Yet there’s a huge cry for us to be violated in order to test for something we most likely don’t have. I keep seeing posts on Facebook again for it. There’s a new commercial that’s been released on TV here in the UK urging women to get their PAP smears done. It makes me feel sick…Check my damn heart! Thats more likely to have a problem with it. That’s what I say..

      • Just kill me… LadyNeuroscientist – I hear you. Heart disease killed my sister. She did have symptoms – her doc told her it was panic attacks and gave her Xanax. Yet more sexism that’s deadly to women. Kelly was describing how feminists are all down for gyno visits. I’m a feminists!!! And pretty damned hard core! And I don’t get this. At all. Many women my age (I’m past the half century mark) have given up the gyno shit. Is this a young feminist phenomenon? I did some research on it, and there’s quite a bit about feminists seeing their gyno as their path to autonomy over their body. I totally get right to choose, right to self empower with BC options, right to be proactive about preventing STDs, etc. But honestly, none of that requires yearly exams. It’s a cognitive dissonance I don’t get. If someone can enlighten me, I’m all ears…

      • Shelli, I think this “gynecology as feminism” mindset may at least partially have its roots in the “Our Bodies Ourselves” series of books that started publication in the late 60’s/early 70’s at the height of the women’s movement. The focus of the books was supposedly to put women in touch with their own bodies and sexuality but I seem to recall that besides pushing pap smears, they also contained pictures of smiling women in stirrups being shown their cervix with a mirror being held by a woman health care provider (which was more rare in those days). These types of images in a so-called feminist publication may have helped start and reinforce pap/pelvic exams as a feminist issue.

      • Just, as you describe that, I had a primal
        Flashback to seeing such a scene on television many years ago. And another primal
        memory of a friend of my older sister describing having that same personal experience with her gyn. She was given a mirror and took a look at her cervix. Wow. Hadn’t thought of that in ages. I guess I can understand a woman’s curiosity about what her cervix looks like. Afterall, she’s constantly told that it’s going to kill her. Might as well get a look at the deadly thing. I haven’t had a burning desire to see my cervix. I don’t imagine it’s a bad thing – I just haven’t had a desire to see it. I haven’t had the desire to see The inside of my nose either. But maybe I’m just a boring person and lack curiosity. I would hope that women could define themselves by more than their genitalia. Thanks for the perspective, Judy. I honestly hadn’t thought of this feminist angle and how it perpetuates the gyn model. It disturbs me. I wonder how we convince women, who are right to want autonomy over their bodies, that their gyn visits are playing right into make oppression and not feminist in the least. At least buying the propaganda that their reproductive organs are about to kill them, and thus they must spread their legs and get felt up, isn’t feminist. At all. Wow…

      • I feel like it’s someone else agenda. I’m not going to let someone do and invasive exam on me to look for something that’s not there. It’s my body and I know it better than a doctor.

  19. The Lancet, back in 1998, put up an article that “Cervical Cancer” and the hype surrounding it has caused us to lose our sense of proportion.

    From that article
    “Who, in the 1940s, would have thought that by now the USA would be spending an estimated US$4·5 billion annually on diagnosing “atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance”? Who would have thought that we would be diagnosing abnormal smear tests in 6800 of every 100 000 women screened, when the annual incidence of invasive cervical cancer in England and Wales was never greater than 30 per 100 000?”

    It would seem that the US has had better things to do with $4-5 billion 1998-dollars than spend it every year on this.

    • BethKZ – You Rock, my friend. Thank you so much for posting this. This is exactly what I have been saying forever: this CC crap has been drilled into our collective subconscious for profit and for oppression. All we need to do is just look at the numbers. Look at the stats. And as for medical scientists who sob “Oh but it’s more complicated and CC used to be the biggest killer of women (another verifiable lie) and the numbers don’t tell the whole story…..” Haven’t we all heard that? I have. ITS A LOAD OF BULLSH*T. I was trained as a scientist and have practiced for decades (not medicine but the scientific method is the same). One way we show validity is replicating the results of research. The statistics on CC have been replicated over and over and over …. whether it’s hard data from the US Center for Disease Control or this article from The Lancet – the numbers are simply what they are. The statistics are simply what they are. CC is really low risk. It always has been. We are all going to bite the dust. One way or another. Do some people develop CC and die? Yes. If its you, your friend, your relative – it’s horrible and I probably sound like a jerk. My older sister literally dropped dead age 53 of sudden cardiac death. 1 in 3 women die of heart disease. That is our biggest risk to our health. I can’t speak for U.K. and AUS; but the US med profession does little more than pay lip service to this stat. I recently saw a new PCP for the first time. She asked me about paps and asked nothing about my heart! And I told her I had a sibling who died of undiagnosed heart disease. She 100% dismissed my cardio history. I’ll say it again: medical texts and ideologies are all developed through the lense of a dominant white male patriarchy and are heavily biased and heavily incorrect. A person bearing the letters Dr before their name means NOTHING. They are not smarter than you. They aren’t “more educated” than you. They don’t “know more” than you. This is, and always has been, a myth propagated by that male patriarchy. I know y’all know this. But we have to start reaching out to younger women and start interupring this cycle of harassment and systemic sexual abuse. I inform every young woman I know. I give them citations to look up data themselves. I tell them to just keep condoms in their purse or backpack if they are concerned about HPV. It’s on us, guys, to educate others and start breaking this disgusting obsession with having us spread our legs and get diddled.

      • Thank you, Shelli.

        I do have a scientific degree in something other than medicine, and worked in that field for decades. The scientific method is the same, regardless of any protests to the contrary. Their protests to the contrary are indicative of the actual *science based medicine* which has proven to lengthen lives and years of quality life. Unfortunately, in many areas of medicine, science base is thrown to the winds, replaced by a combination of industry-based advertising and other propaganda. The trick is “follow the money”, and see who is gaining from the status-quo. I haven’t quite been able to track any one organization or industry behind the “Pap Crap”, but there seem to be several, plus the desire on the part of male healthcare providers to have access to vaginas. The nonsense that “I’ve seen it all before, and it doesn’t excite me” is a load of crap! If men were to lose interest in seeing women’s sexual parts after seeing them time-and-again, companies such as Hooters, Playboy and the entire porn industry would have gone out of business long ago. Nor would serial sex offenders exist.

        They will gladly tell us that cervical cancer decreased dramatically when Pap was widely introduced. It’s true that the incidence rate and death rate for CC has dropped about 50% between 1973-2007. However, the death rate for adenocarcinoma, which is not tested for with pap, has increased. Meanwhile, the death rates of other cancers have also decreased, primarily through advances in treatment, from an all-time high in 1990 of 216:100,000 to 155.8:100,000 in 2016. It also belies the notion that CC is the #1 cancer killer among women (which is the fall-back when we know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women). One of my neighbors, a 52-year-old woman, who was educated (veterinary tech with a masters degree), got all of her tests and checkups as recommended and encouraged others to do so, died suddenly and recently of a heart attack. Too much time and too much energy obsessing about her “female parts” and not on the organs most likely to lead to her death. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women, not CC. Rare cancers like cancer of the heart or kidneys are bigger killers. Sepsis as a cause of death is estimated at 300:100,000 population, with the highest number being seriously ill hospitalized patients. Note this is higher than all cancers!

        One sadly-interesting part of the phenomena is that the feminist movement has, itself, been hijacked by this nonsense. We have rights and access to all sorts of things which we’ve demanded over the decades and centuries. We gained the right to vote, the right to an education and the right to workplaces free from sexual harassment, the right to seek healthcare along with the right to “women’s healthcare” which is merely preoccupied with the areas of our bodies covered by a bikini, to prod, diddle, test, and torture under the guise of treatment.

        The preoccupation with death from this rare cancer is, itself, a pathological obsession. Many women are frightened by CC, and don’t give a thought to the unlikely event of dying by a lightening strike. Indeed, if a woman obsessed about being struck by lightening, she would probably be referred to mental health professionals and diagnosed. If she’s frightened by getting CC, which is less likely than her being struck by lightening, she’s being “responsible”. WTF?

        The increasing incidence and death from adenocarcinoma type CC may itself be related to pap testing. After all, if a woman is getting her paps on the recommended schedule, she tests negative, she is safe from CC, right? Should she have pain and/or bleeding, which might be symptoms of CC, she will likely not seek medical attention, or if she does, her symptoms are brushed off until the cancer has metastasized to other organs and she has more symptoms and at stage 4, it’s unlikely to be treated.

        “The numbers don’t tell the whole story”. That’s right. They don’t. One number that’s misleading is the 5-Year Survival Rate. It’s used to prove that early diagnosis and treatment improves the outcome. Wait a minute! There’s such a thing as “lead time bias”. If 1,000 people have a cancer which will kill them in 6 years, we test half of them, treat those we detect with cancer, in 5 years they will all be living testimonials to the success. But, in 5 years, so will the other half who are undiagnosed with the same cancer. In 5 1/2 years or so, these people become symptomatic, are diagnosed, are deemed terminal, and die in 6 years. Tragic and “preventable”, and people even get mad at them for “not being tested”. Yet, our cancer survivors, 6 months after they were declared “survivors”, have the cancer return, diagnosed, and deemed terminal. They fought their cancer so hard! They didn’t give up. Yet, in this hypothetical case the testing and grueling, expensive treatments made no difference in reality, while the numbers collected show that it’s great.

        Another thing is the follow-on tests after a positive pap result. That’s a grueling biopsy, which are done without anesthesia, as medical mythology says that we cannot feel our cervix, that if we think we can “it’s our imagination”. That’s utter BS, most likely rooted deep in the history of gynecology of J Marion Simms and his experiments on unconsenting black slave women. At the time, there was a notion that blacks could not feel pain, that the appearance that they did was just a “reflex”. Now, it’s well-accepted that blacks do feel pain the same as any other human, but it’s gotten changed to women being numb in most of our sex organs. It’s the same patriarchy of white men, only now the emphasis is on “men” rather than “white” – and it has the same results only the demography of victims changes some. For someone in both groups – black women – there’s no difference at all.

        It’s partly the patriarchy working to “keep us in line”. It appears to have many of the same dynamics of prison rape – where the bigger, stronger gang members force a younger, weaker, unaffiliated-with-a-gang man to do their bidding by raping him. It has gotten to the point through societal normalizing and decades of intense propaganda,

        They might “know more” than I do about some things. They might or might not have more education than any given woman. The years of education might be in a different (scientific) area, which gives us less credibility in their eyes than they have. Sometimes, when I do not know why I’m having a symptom, I seek their expertise in diagnosing and recommending a treatment.

  20. Thank you Kelly for such an amazing and sobering analysis. You have clearly studied so much data and research, it’s mind blowing! I’m comfortable with my decision to avoid most docs. If we’re alive, we’re at risk of dying. I know my greater risks. I had a few too many sunburns in my youth, so skin cancer is a risk for me. I have a cool derm. I see a cardio every few years. I do not have the disease my sister died of, but I’m mindful. Other than that, I’m done with the patriarchy. I’ve heard a few women who consider themselves feminists saying “I see a female gyn.” They’re blind. As you and I are both scientists, Kelly, you know exactly what I mean when I say that as women, we weren’t welcomed into science with open arms. This male-dominated profession allowed us in very conditionally, the condition being that we uphold the male patriarchy. Likewise with medicine and female MDs. They unwittingly propagate the gyn profession out of intimidation. Sad for us all. I’m not sure how to reach the feminists (and I consider myself a pretty evolved one.) And I’m not certain how they became so uber focused on their vaginas. Reproductive rights may be in there, but it seems that something else may be at work. Yet something else to research. If you have any sources of information on that topic, I’d be interested in reading them. Thanks for all the sharing.

  21. I’m so glad I found this site. I felt like I was crazy. I’ll give a little back story and I’ll try to be brief. I was having some symptoms that I knew needed to be checked out. After waiting a month for an appointment I went to a new Dr. and got my physical, including pap. The Dr.(a family practice doc) was nice enough, but he was over an hour late getting into the exam room so I sat completely naked with nothing but a paper shrug type thing to cover my top half, (which it didn’t) and a paper “sheet” that wasn’t even big enough to go around me let alone cover anything private. He comes in, does his thing and then proceeds to talk to me about mammograms, other tests, etc….all while I’m sitting there completely naked trying desperately hard to keep my dignity in tact. I was in that office for two hours, naked. It bothered me to some extent, but I let it slide because, hey, that’s what you have to do, right? So I leave and wait for the results. I waited and waited for over 2 weeks to find out what my pap smear said. Finally I HAD TO CALL THEM to see if everything was ok. When they finally get back to me the assistant tells me that my test was abnormal and I need to make an appointment to come in and see him for the results. Ok, that’s never good. I asked her how bad was “abnormal” she says, the Dr. didn’t say, but he wants to see you. Two weeks later I have my appointment (because he wanted to get the results of another test he ordered before seeing me, another story altogether). I arrive early for my appointment, scared to death that it’s going to be bad and the Dr. is running an hour behind. Keep in mind that my appointment is at 9:15 am and his office opens at 8 am, he doesn’t do hospital rounds or deliver babies so what in God’s green earth can put him an hour behind 1 hour after he opens?? I sit there, worrying and worrying. Finally he comes in and after talking for a bit he tells me that I need to see a regular ob/gyn for more tests, likely a colposcopy. So for 1 month, I’ve been worried, I take four hours out of my day (counting drive times) to go see this jack wad when he could have told me what I needed to know in a five minute conversation over the phone. I keep reliving the visit with him in my mind and it makes me feel used and disgusted. NOW I have an appointment for a colposcopy and an endometrial biopsy and I am feeling completely violated by this whole process. I’m scared out of my wits and don’t know what to do. I know this procedure is going to hurt like hell. I’ve never seen this new Dr., he’s going to be doing something very painful and invasive, so more violating me. Every time I think about it, I want to throw up and I start to have a mild panic attack. I’m trying to find alternatives to an endometrial biopsy, I’m scared of not having it done in case it is cancer, but I’m also scared TO have it done. Thanks for listening.

    • Darla – a good Doc will offer you anesthesia. Don’t see this person for a procedure. Call and make it clear you are only coming in for a consultation. Find out if he will use anesthesia, the procedure is painful. I’ve had it done with and without. Also – you have the option of waiting and having the test repeated. Find out what specifically was abnormal. Just a few cells? They often self resolve. Docs have a financial motive in scaring you.

    • Hi, I’m glad you found this site and shared your story.
      I hope you still have little time left until the colposcopy and the biopsy.
      IF you decide to go, find out beforehand if they can offer you a painkiller and sedation. IF the biopsy absolutely needs to be done, please please insist on some medication .
      I have never had it done, because I point blank refused, and ended up having the biopsy, pap and IUD inserted in operating room.
      You do have the right to ask for sedation, pain relief, and you also have the right to stop the procedure IF YOU decide to go ahead and if it is too painful. I know there are people who say it doesn’t hurt that “much”, but it’s so individual and for some, like me, it most likely would have been way too traumatic.
      Alternatives? I’m not sure, but I wonder if you could ask for an ultrasound..? Probably not… I guess they just tend to go down this biopsy route, and it’s probably appropriate sometimes if they need a tissue sample. Depending on what they found in your Pap smear. The Pap could probably be repeated?

      I’d definitely contact that new doctor and ask for alternatives.

    • Darla – cervical screening gives out massive rates of false positives, abnormal cells are not cancer, most will resolve without any intervention whatsoever, why not repeat your pap in say 8 months as it may surprise you and be fine.
      ASCUS CIN1 CIN2 CIN3 CIS(stage 0) these are the common results – none of which are cancer, yet so many thousands per year are treated with the attitude of “just in case”. Women’s internal organs are not about to explode, women are not a walking disease.

      I realise your anxiety, I understand it as I was in the same position 10 years ago, my anxiety levels hit the roof………and it was so unnecessary! I was referred for the colposcopy for CIN1.
      However, gut instincts & alarm bells were working well for me and it brought me here to FWEO – this is without a doubt the best site I have ever come across, so much info and links here.
      I refused the colposcopy and I now refuse all cancer screening, especially cervical as the individual risk is a mere 0.65% which means 99.35% no risk & frankly I think they are great odds, I can live with that.

      IF you do decide to go along to the colposcopy, please bare in mind that any kind of sedation often has an amnesia affect so you may not remember what is done to you. Quite honestly I think sedation benefits the medical professionals as it makes you so out of it and groggy that you become more compliant/easy to deal with, and less likely to kick up a fuss if you don’t like what they are doing.

      Women DO feel pain during these biopsies (most of which are not necessary). I have read countless stories where women have said during the procedure STOP but they didn’t and carried on regardless. I also read I think it was Bristol NHS on the colposcopy that one of the risks included death, this is the only place I ever saw it, but if you got an infection after it can result in sepsis so perhaps this is what they were referring to? Or maybe because often the colposcopy units still use the metal speculums (usually the bigger ones) instead of plastic, metal ones have been proven to harbour disease….this could include HPV / HIV and many more, which is why they moved to plastic for screening our cervix in the first place, they are supposed to be disposable but I have my doubts about that too.

      Please think very carefully, research as much as possible before you allow any of this. As I said 10 years later I am still here fighting fit and my anxiety/fears reduced.

      I wish you all the very best and good luck whatever your decision.

      • So sorry this what you went through, Chas, but it’s great news you found this website. Absolutely shocks me the number of women I see who post on social media, who are eaten up with fear at having to be recalled. The retesting goes on for about 3 years and all this time these young women are petrified they have cancer and will die. They also report a string of painful procedures. It’s criminal assault.

      • I suspect, as much pain as seems to be involved with them tearing out chunks of your cervix without any sort of pain management, that death by heart attacks is a serious risk. Of course, there are other risks, like assorted HAIs and sepsis and such. They are creating open wounds in the cervix, and most likely vaginal tears from these extra-large speculums especially when they use them in postmenopausal women and women who have never given birth.

  22. So I just called and talked to the Dr.’s nurse and asked about anesthesia. She said that they numb the cervix, but they do not numb the uterus because it’s a different procedure for numbing the uterus. Which, according the training video I watched the other day, is complete bullshit. The New England Journal of Medicine showed them putting a numbing solution into the uterus to numb it or to at least ease the pain somewhat. I am freaking out. The pap result was AGUS (abnormal cells withing the lower walls of the uterus).

    • Darla – Anout 30 hrs ago I had a pap that had abnormal cells. The next year (and every year since) all was normal. The body self resolves many of these things. But I understand your concern. Please keep looking for a doc that will have a nurse anesthetist on hand. They should heavily state you and numb you up. It absolutely can be done. I’ve had it done in the office. It’s not that hard. Please keep looking. You are the customer, it’s your body, and it’s your money. Docs work for you. You call the shots.

  23. Thank you for this article. I cried reading a lot. I had been led to believe that I was crazy for not wanting one and feeling the way I feel about it. This article helped me so much. I don’t know how to tgank you. Just tge simple feeling that I am not alone, and that I am not crazy and I have the right to trefuse it, that is priceless. Thank you so much

    • No Maria, you aren’t alone at all. You always have the right to refuse anything. You are the one in charge. It is your body and your money. Med staff works for YOU. I personally never ever remove clothing in a med situation. Just don’t do it. If they start harassing you just stand up, grab your purse and keys, and walk out. The idea of med personnel as “authorities” is just a notion that resides in our brains. There is no law written on any book anywhere that states that med staff have the right to bully you. Another tip Maria – if you refuse an intrusive disgusting “exam” and they ask “why” – do not engage and answer. You owe them no explanation. Just say “Thank you for your opinion.” Rinse and repeat as many times as you need til they shut up.

  24. I was a virgin at 21 and went to my primary care doctor for a medication refill. Little did I know I was “due” for a Pap test. She had been my doctor since 16 and knew I had never had a pelvic exam. I was on my period and my concerns were disregarded. I was not given an option to opt out (and I was not asked for consent) despite the chance of me having cervical cancer was essentially 0%. Because these exams are something that “women just need to deal with” I figured “how bad can it be?” The exam was surprisingly not physically painful for me, but mentally it took a toll. I am still not sexually active but have felt forced into having one very three years as a part of my annual check ups. Following each one I go through a period of severe anxiety and depression that usually lasts a few days up to a full week. I don’t have a history of sexual assault/abuse so I can’t imagine how survivors feel. This article made me so emotional because I’ve never had anyone share these same feelings before.

    • I am so sorry for the trauma that this causes you. I gave up those rape exams years ago. We aren’t “due” for anything. My “doc” is a younger nurse practitioner and I made it clear to her that I will not take off my clothes for any reason whatsoever. And I never do. She respects that. I think that’s an important first step for us: never ever disrobe. Keep our clothes on, our purses and car keys in our hands so that we are ready to get up and leave. The med profession expects us to be submissive and compliant. Look: our body our money. They work for us. We tell them what to do, not vice versa. Just because they “think” they get to treat us like meat doesn’t mean it’s true. It simply means they think it. Please do not let this doctor ever disrespect your body again. Do not remove your clothing. Just say “I will not be engaging in this behavior.” If she tried to scare you with “statistics” and “data” – repeat firmly “I will not be engaging in this behavior.” Don’t explain. Just repeat as many times as necessary until she backs off. If she keeps harassing you, leave. Then please change Docs.

      • “C” I’m so sorry you’re been coerced into having these invasive exams. The attitude that women’s bodies are public property remains firmly entrenched in the medical community and it can be very difficult to assert yourself in this intiminating environment. However Shelli is 100% correct that they work for us – not the other way around. You’re the boss of your own body . And Shelli, thank you. Your words and advive not only help young women like C find their voice and strength, but also reinforces it in older women like myself.

      • Judy you are so correct that the medical
        profession has this entrenched view of unfettered access to women’s bodies. Such an eloquent – albeit disturbing – way of summing it up. I’m of a generation where we didn’t question these rapist exams and this needless monitoring. I put my foot down several years ago and refuse to go there again unless I’m symptomatic. I’m not. And never have been. I’m ashamed of myself for having ever submitted to this old white male supremist paradigm that has shaped western medicine. Even female Docs have been indoctrinated into this old white male supremist way of thinking. It’s what they learned in med school and it’s all they know. And even if we are sexually active, our chances of testing positive for CC is still really low. It is not, and never has been, a common cancer. There are many more things that we are more likely to encounter – such as heart disease and skin cancer. Fire the gyn – hire a cardio and a derm.

      • Shelli,

        I think a lot of us are ashamed of our past selves for willingly submitting to these rapist exams, leading to its unquestioned continuance.

        You are not “unlikely” to test positive for CC. In fact, you are extremely LIKELY to test positive for CC – most women have at least one of these cancer scares in their lives. After that, it’s more harmful and invasive testing – colposcopy/biopsy, and LEEP – and even a possible hysterectomy. At some point, you can have a sigh of relief – the woman didn’t have CC – it was a false alarm. But, isn’t it great that they could have saved her life that way? She makes a good ambassador then to help talk young women in the door. There’s never any discussion that it’s an unreliable test to begin with.

      • Bethkz – I admit at first I didn’t get what you were referring to (most women do not get cervical cancer) – and then it dawned on me what you were saying. Yes. Exactly. 100% – false positives and treatment and scaring women ….. SMDH….. I’m on the older edge of middle age and I am done. And I admit they succeeded in scaring me for years, especially when I was under 30. I just recently worked up the nerve to tell my daughter that she and only she – should evaluate her risk for testing. I explained how HPV is sexually transmitted and it’s up to her to evaluate what is best for her. My daughter experienced sexual assault as a teen, and a horrible gyn – a woman – re-traumatized her. I was enraged. I don’t want my daughter feeling like her life and her intimate body parts are anyone’s business but hers.

    • I’m sorry that your first experience of being penetrated by another person was a doctor with an instrument – even if it was a woman. Having a pap smear during your period is a notorious way to get abnormal or inconclusive results, which would have to be repeated.

      If you’re not sexually active, and never have been, the only place POSSIBLE for you to catch HPV is from nonsterile tools used by the doctor! You don’t get it from benches, swimming pools, toilet seats, or towels! Yes, it mentally takes its toll – we have a term for being penetrated without consent.

      You have a right to say “no” to anyone proposing to penetrate you – including a doctor. You have a right to refuse medical treatment or any portion of it. If that doctor refuses to treat you for other conditions unless/until you have a pap test, it’s time to report them to a medical board, an institution they work with/for, and your insurance company or other 3rd party payer. These exams are not free, and if you’re getting them after you’ve outright refused them, they cannot have consent.

  25. Daily fail today ladies, UK bodybuilder nurse diagnosed with CC after her smear due in April was cancelled. She’s 27 and had a tumour the size of a golf ball and was getting symptoms, she was told at 27 she was low risk for CC
    She has now set up a go fund me to raise awareness of the importance of smears! She was expecting a letter for her smear which ‘ she always has every 3 years… but they start at 25?! It’s a real shame a smear is classed as a routine appt and it’s something no women like but it needs doing and doctors need to put pressure on women to get it done. Drivel

    • I feel for the woman diagnosed with CC. My niece got diagnosed with CC at age 30. She had surgery and is fine. I am glad she is doing well. And I stand by what I’ve maintained: it is rare. I have a friend in her 30s who is a pancreatic cancer survivor. Another rare cancer. Actually if you review CDC cancer stats, including the incidence of precancerous cervical lesions, pancreatic cancer still outnumbers precancerous cervical lesions. Where is the screaming to get our pancreases screened? My niece indulged in a lot of risky behavior in her youth. From the time my daughter was 12 I always told her to use condoms. I showed her how to roll one on and I gave her some to keep in her purse. It’s the least we can do for our daughters. As well as teach them that docs aren’t authorities, and we have the right to say no and walk out to any doc trying to assault our bodies without our permission. I think besides us rebels (I’m so grateful I’m not alone here) we turn this culture around by educating our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters, our younger friends. Even young men who can be allies. I’m starting to see “For Women’s Eyes Only” referenced in more publications by women. It’s so good to see …..

    • It’s a disgrace that the Daily Fail still promotes such misinformation. It’s always the missed smear test that has caused a tumour to grow this big in a couple of months, always someone else’s fault she couldn’t get a smear test, yet the NHS has been available throughout the lockdown for anyone who has symptoms, and to the best of my knowledge none of these delays this article talks about have really happened. The services have been up and running as usual, but some places have put screening on hold for 3 months, and this has sown the idea that it’s not such an essential service after all, and some are not rushing back. Strongly suspect this article is to ramp up the pre-COVID fear and compliance.

      • Adawells – wow! I remember that article from April maybe? About how paps and “pelvic exams” weren’t essential? I think you are 100% correct, that this is just a load of BS to drum up business.

      • They aren’t rushing back for these tests, as they’ve been told they can be put off, are a non-essential service, and the cancer is rare. The genie is out of the bottle. Now they need these stories to get women back into believing it all.

      • There’s always a story of somebody who put off her smear for a few months for whatever reason, and she went in, they found something enormous and dangerous which had spread – and all of this stuff they had to do in order to “save her life”. Note they’re always saved at the end of the day…. unlike real life where when a cancer does become stage 3 or 4, and symptomatic, the mortality rate is high.

      • Adathe Daily Fail itself printed an article that said smears were non urgent and that those with symptoms and early recall would still be seen,I pointed this out but they just red are owed me without even replying!
        I feel for this lady, but can’t agree obviously doctors need to pressure us to take a test she admits we “don’t like’ and still no mention of self testing. It will be interesting to see if take up does improve even up to the same as before covid! I can’t see it increasing above that somehow….

      • I think they’ve got a job on their hands getting women to come back. I’ve noticed begging ads all over the place telling women that screening is back up and running and to not forget keeping that appointment. The Daily Fail is all for self-testing one minute and then peddling stories that miss a smear test by a month and you’ll get a golf ball sized tumour before the night is out type stories the next. I hope everyone here is keeping well and COVID-free.

  26. Giving each other constructive advice helps a lot but women’s healthcare has always been about ordering us into screening tests and exams and silencing and ridiculing dissenters.
    Turning women on each other was an important tool for these programs.

    I blame this attitude for a lot of grief..booming up Pap tests to young women is dishonest and dangerous, we’ve known for decades that Pap tests don’t help those under 30, that these very rare cancers may occur whether you’re screened or not..

    Many of these young women were reassured by a normal Pap test and were only diagnosed when symptoms worsened…you have to wonder about the consequences of losing time, honesty may have saved some lives or meant less extensive treatment,
    I found it hard to listen to the lies…knowing they were protecting these programs, not women.

  27. Just seen on news they’re working on a spit test for coronavirus as lots of ppl find the nasal swab unpleasant and invasive!
    So why are we made to feel bad for thinking smears invasive???

    • Very interesting about the Covid saliva test! I gave up gyn visits years ago. I feel so free and unburdened. I have forgotten what that sexually assaulting “exam” was even like and get jerked back to reality whenever I see my doc for a med refill (I have fibromyalgia). The nurse asks questions about screening, etc. I know she’s just doing her job. But I feel sick when she asks about paps. I just say it’s been years and I have zero intention of ever engaging in that ridiculous ritual again. My doc is cool; she knows how I feel. One day I just said “It is systemic oppression of women in invented by a while male patriarchy” and she was speechless. And never brought it up again.
      We need not ever feel on the defensive about refusing gyn “testing.” We have every right to put them on the defensive right back. If they pressure, just say “That is my business and NONE of your business.” Don’t give a reason. Just let them know they overstepped a boundary.

  28. Evening ladies, I’ve come onto this forum because I know I will get good advice, so I’ve been having some prolonged bleeding, think it’s probably perimenopause or my fibroid playing up, called docs today expecting her to prescribe something to ease the bleed, but no she wants me to go in to do a pelvic exam, well that isn’t going to happen, I just need some advice from you wonderful ladies on how you coped with prolonged perimenopause bleeding, how long was your longest period and did you use any natural remedies and if so what, do you think this is part of the ageing process im 47 have been bleeding heavy light spotting for 4 weeks, this did also happen last year for 4 weeks.

    Many thanks sherry xxx

    • Hi Sherry,
      Hope you’re doing ok. Could you get a referral for an external scan to see if that shows anything? I’ve had very similar issues in the past. I had normal periods until I turned 40. I then had spotting on and off with no regular pattern for about 4 months, sometimes just spots of blood, other times like a light period. During one month this spotting happened almost every day. When I went for help the doctor wouldn’t do blood tests, fobbed me off when I said it could be my age and insisted on doing a smear (which I now know shouldn’t have happened but I felt pressure due to seeking help for the spotting). After the 4 months of spotting I had 6 months free from any bleeding other than my period and then the spotting started up again. Following the smear I had been meant to be referred to some specialists but this didn’t happen so I rang and asked to be referred for an external scan only. When I went for the scan I discovered that the doctor had also requested an internal scan but I simply refused this and just had the external one. The scan was very thorough and didn’t show anything which put my mind at rest. Since then Ive only had one instance of spotting. I’m fairly confident it’s just my age (42) so I would suggest an external scan could be a good idea for reassurance. I started taking a multivitamin which includes women’s herbs to support peri menopause and Ive found this to be helpful. Keep us posted as to how you get on.
      As a side note, a year after the smear, I got a text to book in for a follow up smear. I calmly text back ‘Thanks, I have made an informed decision not to screen anymore and have been taken off the register. Please don’t send me any further reminders’. Haven’t heard a thing since!

  29. Hi Sherry
    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I don’t have knowledge of natural remedies for bleeding but would a consultation with a naturopath be a possibility? Or, and I know its not a natural remedy, but some perimenopausal women take a low-dose birth control pill to help with irregular bleeding. These can be difficult to obtain without an invasive exam, but some posters here have had luck with ordering them online. Its unclear from your post whether you’re having heavy bleeding or just spotting. If its heavy bleeding it may more likely be due to a fibroid, and that’s a little trickier. Fibroids usually shrink after menopause though so hopefully you just need to get over this hump. I don’t blame you for not wanting a pelvic exam – women are looked at as colossal cash cows for the medical establishment anyway and presenting with abnormal bleeding may well subject you to any number of horrors. Perhaps other posters will chime in with other ideas for you. Please keep us posted.

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