Do you know anyone with a vagina who enjoys going to the gynecologist? Sure, maybe you like your gynecologist well enough. Maybe they even delivered your baby and so they have taken on an important role in your life. But here's the thing: Either you're going for routine ladybits maintenance, which will involve probing that your healthcare provider will describe as "a little uncomfortable" but is actually really super uncomfortable, or you're going because something is amiss. Either way, boo.
My grandma used to tell me about how, in the '60s, a lot of women wore wigs and hairpieces and instead of going to the salon, they would just send their wigs out to be done for a party or whatever. Wouldn't it be cool if we could do that with our vaginas?! Just find some way to send your vagina out for a tune-up or whatever while you, like, read a book or go to a spa or something. Science, can we make this happen? I'm skeptical of the fact that we put robots on Mars, and yet my time at the vaj doctor still has to be so unpleasant. Until we can figure all this nonsense out, any situation that usually entails one person getting naked from the waist down and spreading their legs while another person takes a peek is basically reaching critical mass for awkwardness. Here, 16 women were kind enough to share their most awkward gynecological adventures with me below.
"I remember being at the gyno and during the exam when they're asking you all kinds of questions [including], "When was your last period?" I had to think for a second and before I could answer, she interrupted my thought process and said, "It's today." I had no idea I had my period but I'm glad I always keep tampons in my purse."
"I had to have a transvaginal ultrasound as a teenager ... The tech began by putting a condom over the probe, which freaked me out enough. Then, in what I assume was an attempt to calm my nerves and let me feel in control of the situation, the tech offered to let me insert the probe myself. I was as [much of a] virgin as they come at the time, and I'm pretty sure I burst into tears."
While pregnant with my first [kid], at around 23 weeks, I felt a gush of liquid and thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. I went to the hospital and the OB-Gyn told me, "The bad news is you are 2 centimeters dilated. The good news is that you aren't leaking amniotic fluid; you only peed your pants."
"For my six-week [postpartum] checkup after having my son, I could not find a sitter for my daughter, who had just turned [4 years old] a few weeks earlier. I set up her and my son in the corner and pulled the curtain. The doc started to do his thing and my daughter starts talking. "My mom has a furry 'gina; my 'gina is not furry," "My brother has a penis, it is little and disappears sometimes," "Do you have a penis? Does it disappear?", "Mommy's boobies leak and make her shirt messy." You get the picture? This went on the entire exam. Thankfully, my gyno is a funny guy my age [who] laughed it all off and complimented my daughter's knowledge of the human body."
"In the middle of my exam, I noticed a pretty good size spider crawling on the wall towards me. It went up the wall, onto the ceiling and started circling right over my head. My OB commented on how "tight" my muscles were during the exam and I was too worried about whether it was going to drop on my head to tell her why."
I went in for my annual [exam] and I needed to get the doctor to lance an ingrown hair that had gone out of control. It wasn't until I was in the paper robe on the slab that the nurse said my usual doctor was out but the sub would be in. In walks one of the most beautiful men I've ever seen.
"The morning that I had an appointment to insert my IUD, a terrible siege unfolded around the corner from my [gynecologist's office]. A lunatic stormed into a Sydney cafe and held staff and customers at gunpoint. The news coverage said it was fine to move about the city, [but] as I waited in the waiting room, reports of bombs being planted throughout the city were released. It was the strangest appointment I have ever had; both the doctor and I were so distracted. When I left, there were police waiting at the door of the building, rushing people away from the site. I literally ran home with my newly inserted IUD and watched this crazy thing unfold. The lovely receptionist called me the next day to check on me and see that I had enough information because everyone ran out of there so fast!"
"As a transmasculine/genderqueer person, I've always been really uncomfortable about going to the gyno. When I first started dating my now-wife almost 10 years ago, my Orthodox Jewish gynecologist asked if we shared sex toys. At this point in my life, that question would not faze me at all, and it occurs to me that it was in fact an extremely appropriate, thorough, medically sound question to ask, and she asked it in a respectful way. But [back] then...oh man, I was mortified."
"I was having a regular exam at Planned Parenthood. For the first time in years, there was a different nurse practitioner on duty, a sweet little old lady. She has a speculum all up in me when she remarks, "Oh my! Has anyone ever told you that you have the tiiiiniest little cervix?" I grunt out a, "Um, no, no one ever has actually, haha." She says, "I'll have to go get a smaller speculum. I'll be right back." And she sloooowly goes to another exam room to find one while leaving me on the table with the other speculum still in me! That was fun."
At my two-week postpartum appointment, [my doctor] said he barely recognized me with all my clothes on. He was making a joke, because I labored naked, but it was so awkward.
"It was my first prenatal at a new office. I was in "the gown" and waited for the midwife for longer than I expected ... I really had to pee by the time she got there. I asked her where the bathroom was and I swear the directions she gave me included me going into the lobby, which I did... In my tied exam gown with nothing on underneath in the middle of the day in a busy gynecologist's office."
"My physician's assistant (a man in his 40s) found out that my husband was a former Irish dancer. After discussing how it was similar to clogging he began to demonstrating his clogging talents (while I was in the stirrups and he was checking to see how dilated I was)."
"Your vagina is beautiful." Really?! Who says that?! Ummm, thanks? Here's the thing: It has happened with more than one doctor!
"I was expecting my second child, and I had my initial appointment to get a pap and just do paperwork. The nurse asked did I mind if the medical student working with them came in to help/observe — no problem. The PA came in with said medical student, introduced him, and told me he was studying podiatry. This poor guy, who wants to be a foot doctor then does my pap exam, and was kind of awkward about it. As it happens, I have a toe on my right foot that is crooked (I was born that way) he noticed and thought it was the most fascinating thing he'd seen. Naturally, he was much more interested in that than in giving me a pap exam. Why a podiatry major needs to have a OB/GYN rotation is beyond me, but at least he enjoyed my toe."
When I was 8 months pregnant, I went into the bathroom to pee in the cup. I had to stop, mid-pee, as the cup was getting a bit full. Put it on the ground, finished peeing, stood up... And kicked the damn cup over. It spread everywhere and went under the damn door! I was mortified, sweating from bending over to clean everything up. I just left the bathroom and was all, "Sorry! Gave it my best effort, but don't have to go!"
[Writer's note: So many of the answers I received to this question were pee cup related, particularly in conjunction with pregnancy. So many. Damn those awful tiny cups and bellies that prevent a view of the vulva.]
"Going in because I was exhausted and couldn't find my tampon. [I arrived] a hot mess to find out there isn't a tampon and I couldn't for the life me remember seeing it come out or ever finding it."