BY MERRYN JOHNS
Most of us dislike going to the gynecologist, and with good reason. When it comes to women’s bodies — especially lesbian and queer bodies — doctors can often seem uneducated, if not outright homophobic. But California ob-gyn Dr. Lissa Rankin has written a book that can help all of us start to redefine our relationship with the gynecologist. “What’s Up Down There?: Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend” is based on the premise that there’s nothing about your body you can’t discuss with your gynecologist — just imagine she’s your best girlfriend and you’re chatting about Pap tests over piña coladas. Inspired to write the book after spending an evening sharing sexual stories with other women, Dr. Rankin realized that she “wanted women to have these intimate conversations with each other as a form of healing.” Here, she shares the essential steps to starting a relaxed, healthy relationship with your gyno, and your girly bits.
1. Ask your gyno about the exam process. Even gynecologists have had bad experiences at the gynecologist’s office.
“The introduction to the gynecologist’s office is often a very traumatic one. I remember mine. I was 17 years old. I wanted to be pre-med, so I thought, Great, I’ll get to meet a nice ob-gyn and she’ll be my mentor — but she was just god-awful. I remember her literally prying my knees apart, physically, and when I wasn’t cooperating she threw off her gloves and slammed out of the room, and I remember thinking, Oh my God, she’s going to put a giant F on my chart, like Bad Patient — she’s going to tell my father. Finally, the nurse comes in to find me sobbing, but I agree to open my legs. The gynecologist comes back in, but she’s so irritated by this point that she just grabs that speculum and jams it in me like she was fencing. It was awful. So many of us have stories that start that way, and part of it is that the medical system is broken.”
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