Yes, it’s the appointment you dread all year long. You walk into the doctor’s office and try not to look around because you know what you’re here for, and it’s awkward. A nurse walks you into this small room, makes you pee in a cup, and then hands you this glamorous paper vest and sheet to hide your lady parts. If that isn’t awkward enough for you, the doctor goes on to have a conversation with you, making small talk about the weather, vacation plans and your kid’s soccer season, while he pokes and probes in places YOU don’t’ even venture! So what is this conspiracy all about? Is this someone’s cruel joke on us once a year?
I hate to admit it, as awkward as it is, but pap smears are a valuable tool in caring for our bodies. I am actually one of those weirdos that is amazed at the intricate details in how my body was created and runs on a daily basis. Before I got married, I read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Believe it or not, the book was about getting pregnant and preventing pregnancy. But not only that, it encouraged women to know their bodies. When you are aware of what your body is supposed to do, you can go into your doctor’s appointment with knowledge. So when your body is doing something different, you can let them know. So, I beg you, get in tune with your body’s natural processes and get that yearly pap smear! Check out www.tcoyf.com for some great information to get you started. In the meantime, here are some great reasons not to skip your annual pap smear.
1. It Can Save Your Life: A pap smear is the best tool out there to detect the early signs of cervical cancer. If caught early, the chances of surviving cervical cancer are high.
2. Abnormal Cells: It can also detect abnormal cells that can turn into cancer cells. This means that with treatment you can prevent cervical cancer from developing.
3. Annual Pelvic Exam: So with all the poking and prodding, you may be unclear about what exactly the doctor is checking. During your exam, your doctor is not just checking the cells of your cervix. It always includes a time for them to make sure there are no abnormalities in your vagina, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Some doctors may recommend less frequent pap smears if your tests are consecutively normal, but they will generally always encourage a pelvic exam to check for changes.
4. Breast Exam: Most doctors perform a breast exam also to see if there are any changes or lumps in the breasts. You should do these on a monthly basis, but having your doctor double check is always a great idea.
5. Talking about Your lady parts: Most people begin to blush when someone brings up the word “vagina”. I am not sure why they named it that, but I am sure that any name would have been weird given the content. This is your one time a year to talk about changes in your body. Take it! Ask those embarrassing questions, I promise your doctor will appreciate your honest questions.
6. Preventative Care: I cannot stress the importance of preventative care. As a nation, we tend to wait until something is wrong to address any issues. As a marriage counselor, I wish people would come in for yearly checkups instead of when the marriage is over! At that point, it is almost too late! Talk to your doctor about your goals and work towards them.
7. Discuss Birth Control Options: I am a strong advocate for the Fertility Awareness Method (as discussed in the book above), but I realize that it is not always a convenient method for everyone. There are tons of options out there for birth control from barrier methods to medication that you can explore with your doctor.
8. Because You Just Need To: Get over the awkwardness! Be aware that your doctor is looking at Vajayjays all day and yours blends into the crowd. The only person making it awkward is you! This is a great time to take care of yourself and make sure your body is functioning properly. Make it less awkward by pampering yourself afterwards! Remind yourself that it is important to ensure your health for the sake of your family. Your girl parts will thank you later.