Image: Girls (HBO)
Although they’re a necessary and incredibly important part of life, pap smears aren’t high up on any woman’s list of “Fun Things I Love Doing”.
Having someone you’re not romantically involved with peer between your legs with a speculum in hand can be uncomfortable, but if it’s any consolation, every woman has felt a little awkward on the doctor’s table. Some more than others, in fact.
Recently, our publisher Mia Freedman recounted one of her particularly memorable pap smears on the Mamamia Outloud podcast:
“So I was in the stirrups, and [my doctor and I were] chatting away about The Bachelor. Then she puts the light on — that’s always a great moment when they put the light on — and then the light broke. I’m in the stirrups. She goes, ‘Oh no, it’s broken, I might have to go and ask someone to come and help me fix it’. I went, ‘Really?’ Then she goes, ‘Maybe I’ll try and fix it myself’ and I said, ‘Maybe you could’. And then she did fix it and we talked about feminism and how good it was to fix something yourself.”
Inspired by this, we decided to ask if anyone else in the office had experienced a pap smear that was a little awkward, unusual, unsettling or funny. Boy, had they ever... here are their stories:
"So, I was having a biopsy of my cervix and there was a young male resident performing the procedure. I was on the bed, pants down - he started the biopsy and then his phone rang... he put his hands in his pocket, and PICKED IT UP. Yep. He had an actual conversation with his friend WHILE HIS HAND WAS BASICALLY UP MY VAG. It went something like this, "Hey bro, sorry just at work ... yeah, will call you later ... yeah cool, sounds good bro ... ok yep, will call you after." Mortifying."
"Pap smear six weeks after you've had a baby and the stitches haven't completely healed up? Yep... that's not so much fun."
"A (male) doctor once asked me mid-exam why I didn't have kids yet. I was 26. Then, as I was leaving, he said, 'Next time you come back, I want you to be married with a baby on the way'. I never went back there."
"A few minutes into one of my pap smears, the nurse stopped her small talk and said, 'Hmmm'. She sounded concerned, so naturally I quietly freaked out. 'What is it?' I asked tentatively. 'Oh, I just can't seem to find your cervix,' she replied cheerily. Yeah, okay, no big deal, one of my essential reproductive parts has just gone AWOL. Cool! However, moments later she located it 'off to the left a little bit'. Just like Beyonce says."