It’s that time again – that time you’ve been putting off for tomorrow. Or the day after. It’s time to book your next appointment at the GP for a pap smear.
Am I the only one who massively procrastinates? Despite the knowledge that the benefits of getting a check up outweigh the relatively brief discomfort, I always find a reason to put it off for one more week. Or one more month. I’m too busy, I’ll say to myself. It’s almost next week anyway, I’ll shrug. It’s not like it’s a strict deadline, I’ll reason.
Then when it’s time to bite the bullet, I always hear myself enquire, “Is there is a female doctor available?” If there is not, I find myself feeling uneasy. Perhaps because in my mid 20s, I’m fairly new to the good old “down there” doctor visit. Perhaps because the idea of a man, potentially double my age, seeing me in all my glory is just too weird, no matter what credentials hang on his wall. I know there’s nothing new to see here, folks. These physicians see this every day – day in, day out.
So why do I still feel uneasy, even when prior experiences have proven to be nothing like my nightmarish expectations? Does this get easier with time? Do insecurities eventually fly out the window and in a few years time I’ll be having a good old chin wag about footy tipping while straddled into the dreaded plastic chair?
According to the Royal Women’s Hospital, in Australia, less than one in five doctors that specialise in women’s health are women. Interestingly, a 2007 survey by a doctor at Sydney’s North Shore Hospital found that 64 percent of women needing a genital health check up asked for a female doctor. With such disparate supply and demand figures, chances that you’ll secure an appointment with a female doctor are slim.
The North Shore Hospital survey also found that 70 percent of men did not have a preference of who examined them, exposing an interesting difference of mentality. Are men inherently more comfortable with their own bodies? Are men more equally at ease with both sexes? Are men simply more capable of separating the clinical from the personal? Or are women being too dramatic and fussy in their preference of female doctors?