What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting (to See Your Gynecologist)

I have a gynecologist appointment this morning and quite possibly, as you read this post, I’m wearing an ill-fitting hospital gown and my bare legs are strung up in stirrups as my OB-GYN’s head disappears out of my field of vision, down there beyond the edge of the examination table. Meanwhile, I’m feeling compelled to keep up an endless patter of small talk as she does things that I normally don’t allow until the third date.


Before you scrape my cervix, let me tell you about this great book I’m reading.

“Did you redecorate?” I might ask after noticing a change to the examining room wall color since my last appointment. Or I might say, “Have you read any good books lately?” Or, “How about those Phillies/Eagles?” (depending on the time of year).

My OB-GYN will chat with me, as if she isn’t doing what we both know she’s doing, as she describes everything she is doing, even though I know everything she is doing, because it’s the same thing she’s been doing every year at my annual exam.

“We did redecorate–can you scoot down just a little bit?–because we just got tired of that dreary beige color–you might feel a little pressure here–and we think this warm yellow brightens up the room. Now, when was your last menstrual period?”

It’s an odd intimacy that develops between a woman and her gynecologist, and, I think, it’s unlike any other relationship between a patient and doctor. Sure, your primary physician may have seen you naked, they might know about that weird heart-shaped birth mark on your left hip that you were certain was cancer but turned out to only mean you were destined for a life full of love. Your primary may even know you suffer from psoriasis, or hemorrhoids, or acid reflux.

But your gynecologist . . . Well, your gynecologist sees inside you, while you’re lying there prone, vulnerable, wearing only socks and a johnny coat that doesn’t quite close, both of which would impede a dignified escape across the shiny waxed floors.

Once, late last year, I stopped at the supermarket that’s near my gynecologist’s office to pick up cat food. One of our cats had become a picky eater, and like the  nervous mother I am, I’d begun to fret over her, and decided to get an assortment of different canned food to see if there was one she liked better than the others. I got into the checkout line with a few different varieties and put them on the conveyor belt.


You’re not going to eat that, are you?

While I stood in line, I became convinced that my selection of groceries, limited to different brands of cat food, would lead the cashier to believe that I was eating all this cat food myself. She’d think that I didn’t have any cats at all; rather, she’d believe that I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and all I needed to stock my kitchen were these cans of cat food.

(Let me stop here to say that I occasionally sometimes often get contacted by readers asking whether what I write is factually true. For the most part, it is, though I do change names and sometimes chronology for the sake of a better story. This part about standing in a check out line and thinking the cashier would assume I’m eating cat food? It’s absolutely true. I really am as crazy as you’ve suspected).

I was about to sweep all the cat food into my arms and head back out into the aisles to grab random human food off the shelves (Kashi®? That’s made for human consumption, isn’t it?) when the customer in line ahead of me touched my arm.

“Hi, Karen. How are you?”

If she hadn’t touched me, I might not have recognized her, but the touch was familiar, intimate. I looked up to see my gynecologist in front of me, her purchases spread out behind the small plastic bar that created a barrier to my cat food. She gave my arm a little squeeze, the same way she squeezes my shoulder at the end of an appointment, right before she leaves the examination room so I can get dressed. Then she took her hand away.

“Oh, hi, I’m fine. How are you?”

“I’m well. You’re buying a little bit of cat food there, aren’t you? How many cats do you have?”

“Just two,” I answered, and think about sending her a link to a blog post I wrote long ago that explained the number of cats you can have before you’re considered a Crazy Cat Lady (my answer is, unsurprisingly, two) just to prove that I am not a Crazy Cat Lady, despite the insane amount of canned cat food I’m buying.

She smiled and made a comment that I didn’t quite catch (something about treating our pets better than we treat ourselves, I think) and then paid for her groceries and gave me a little wave as she exited the line.

I could make any one of a number of tasteless jokes here about pussies, and tuna, and gynecology but I won’t. I trust my readers will be able to come up with their own.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com

This post was written in response to this week’s Discover Challenge: In this week’s Discover Challenge, publish a post that appeals to one of the senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. You’re free to interpret this in any way, and publish in any format: prose, poetry, photography, audio, video . . .


25 thoughts on “What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting (to See Your Gynecologist)

    • Karen says:

      Our meetings inside her office aren’t any less awkward!

      But, yeah, it’s weird to see someone out of their element, so to speak. It’s like you don’t realize they exist outside of the office.


  1. Petrossa says:

    obviously you all miss out on some Urologist with fingers the size of bratwurst probing your prostate. Such fun! Believe me, you couldn’t care less about the decoration, just breathe deeply and hope he’s done asap.


    • Karen says:

      I spoke with my husband last night about the Pap Smear, specifically, and what would be comparable, and he brought up the prostrate exam, so yeah, I think men and women have a pretty good idea of what each other are going through.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Allie P. says:

    As far as I am concerned my OB-GYN does not exist outside the walls of the exam room, or if she must, she is transported to some far away destination via some underground hyper-loop transit system.


    • Karen says:

      This post was going to go a million different ways and I had to really reign it in to focus on this curious, extremely intimate, and yet incredibly awkward relationship.

      I love my OB-GYN, though–I’ve had a couple of health issues over the years that did not directly involve my lady parts, but she had to monitor them all the same, and of all the medical personnel I encountered– and there was a lot of them–she was by far the most available, the most concerned, the most willing to go beyond what was required of her to get me through it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Allie P. says:

        I did crack up over the whole small talk over stirrups thing. I don’t have quite the same relationship with my doctor as you do, but I know that particular awkward conversation well.


  3. Elyse says:

    God, I thought they sucked all the fluids out of doctors and put them in those weird cupboards in the examination room when they’re done!

    Karen, yours is one of the blogs WP decided I would no longer follow — I’ve been feeling alone in the universe thinking that all the bloggers I’ve played with for so long have taken their toys and gone home. But no. Word Press is just a mean girl.

    I re-signed up. Which is different from resigning. Fortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen says:

      Welcome back!

      Yeah, I’ve had the same thing happen to me. After while, I start to wonder, “Why did that blogger stop blogging?” So I go to their site to find the answer and it turns out, they’ve been blogging all along! For mysterious reasons, the blog was kick out of my Follow list, and consequently they were dead to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Karen says:

      It is weird. Like, I know I’m mostly just a name on a chart to her, but she’s seen my hooha (my hooha!) many times over the years and it just feels like there’s something more to the relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. amommasview says:

    Hehehe… Great post… It’s such a weird appointment all the time, isn’t it. You would think, you kind of get used to it over the years. Sort of like getting used to seeing the dentist. And yet, it’s always awkward. And will always be… And then running into your Gynecologist somewhere is double weird. Because you sort of never expect to see them anywhere… as if they have no life… but they do too… I wonder how a female Gynecologist feels when she has to go see a Gynecologist…


    • Karen says:

      I’ve had male gynecologists and it’s no less weird, and it’s no more weird. It is equally weird, although my male gynecologists always had a nurse in the room with us, as though I were going to scream rape if left alone with him.

      I always want to ask (but have never worked up the courage), “So why did you become a gynecologist?” My husband is a pediatrician and to me, that’s understandable. You like kids, you become a pediatrician. I know there are a lot of factors physicians consider before settling on a specialty (not the least of which is how lucrative the different fields are), and I’m sure there’s more to it than just “I like the female reproductive system.” I mean, there’s got to be, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      • amommasview says:

        I had a male gynecologist for years and believe me, I preferred him to the female I had before as she was very harsh, physically and also mentally. You can also call her a bitch… Anyway, I asked myself that question too, but always tried to block it out as he was very professional. I also heard from from a Dr friend of mine that the male gynecologists often suffer from… Well… seeing our lady parts all the time. And I bet not every one is nice to look at and work on 😁


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