Now here’s a topic I’ve been wanting to talk about for a very long time now. I have worked with many different doctors over the last few years and I think it’s time I actually said something. I cannot let my fellow vagina owners be treated this way anymore!
You and your vagina deserve better!
Mistake #1: Telling you to drink some wine and just relax
Painful sex is one of the most common complaints when it comes to sexual health. But the first hurdle you have to overcome is being brave enough to even mention it in the doctor’s office.
I don’t recommend waiting for your doctor to ask you directly. They may also be uncomfortable with the subject and will avoid asking it if they can.
If you are brave enough enough to say something, a lot of the time a doctor may completely dismiss your concerns and try to change the subject. They do this because they actually have no idea how to help you.
Medical school did not prepare them for this question. If they haven’t gone out of their way to go and learn about it, they will probably never find out.
Some doctors will go so far as to not even believe you have a real problem (eh em, men). They will just tell you to drink a glass of wine, lie back and relax. It’s like they don’t even think about or care that a woman should enjoy sexual pleasure.
If a doctor treats you this way, please find another doctor! Painful sex is never normal, and there is help available.
Mistake #2: They forget you have a vulva
You read that right! When you have a genital complaint and need to have a pelvic exam done, many doctors forget to even check the vulva.
They are mainly focused on putting their two fingers inside the vagina to check the cervix – and get it over and done with as fast as possible.
Many doctors do the exam without even looking what they are doing. So many things can be missed if you don’t take the time to properly look at the vulva. It only takes a few seconds!
Mistake #3: Avoiding pelvic exams where possible
This one is similar to the Mistake #2. Doctors tend to avoid pelvic exams where possible.
Whether this is due to them being uncomfortable, or worrying that the patient will be uncomfortable, we can’t be sure.
They tend to ask a few questions and then just assume they know what is happening with your genitals.
I’m sure you can imagine how many things they could be missing! This one is particularly problematic.
Once I saw a doctor telling a patient with lower abdominal pain that he didn’t know the cause for the pain, but he will just give her some pain medication and she should be fine. His words were, “The reason you came in was for the pain, right? So if the pain medication takes away the pain, your problem will be solved, right?”
When I interrupted and asked him whether he did a pelvic exam, he said, “It’s the 21st century, we don’t have to do pelvic exams anymore. An ultrasound can find the information for me.”
Folks, I almost lost my shit.
I intervened and did a pelvic exam for the patient. Guess what I found? A very obvious case of pelvic inflammatory disease. If it wasn’t caught and treated correctly, it could’ve resulted in severe consequences, like sepsis and infertility.
I cannot stand it when doctors make patients undergo a bunch of unnecessary investigations (that cost a fortune!) when all they had to do was take 20 seconds to properly examine the patient.
Needless to say, a complaint was raised about that doctor.
Mistake #4: Telling you that period pain is normal
If your period pain is so severe that you are hunched over and unable to focus on work or social activities, there is a problem!
If you talk to your doctor about your period pain and they dismiss it as being a normal part of having a uterus, go get a new doctor!
There are so many different reasons why you could be having such severe period cramps and if it’s really bothering you then you need to get it investigated.
You do not have to live like this forever.
Mistake #5: Assuming you only engage in penis-in-vagina sex
This is a big one! Most doctors think that sex only takes place within straight couples and focuses only on penis-in-vagina sex. If that’s their reality, I feel sorry for them!
There are so many different ways that people have sex, and the basics should include oral sex, anal sex and manual stimulation (solo or partnered).
They forget that other genders and sexual orientations exist at all.
The most common way this manifests is when a doctor can’t understand why you’re saying your sexuality active, not using birth control, and not worried you may be pregnant.
Whether it is the fear of vaginas or the stigma that runs rife in the health care profession, the above mentioned mistakes remain unacceptable.
If your doctor is making any of these mistakes, or you feel uncomfortable or unhappy with the service you received, get a new doctor! You and your vagina deserve more.
I wrote this post not because I want to scare you, but because I believe you deserve more. There are so many amazing doctors out there that will give you the care that you deserve, you just need to find them.
Take care of yourself,
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Disclaimer: This blog contains my opinions and doesn’t reflect the opinions of the Department of Health of South Africa or The Southern African Sexual Health Association. All information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but it’s possible that there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. While I am a qualified medical doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. The information presented on this blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as professional medical advice. If you rely on any information presented, it’s at your own risk. Please consult a professional before taking any sort of action. I reserve the right to manage this blog as I see fit, including the right to remove harmful or unhelpful comments.