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WTF? Do-It-Yourself Gynecology Exam

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Would you take your gynecological exam into your own hands?


Momlogic's Momstrosity: I know times are tough and many are turning to DIY for many services,  but this is ridiculous. I came across this add for a class in someone's home where you are instructed on how to be your own gynecologist. A rep for the class assured me that participation in this gyno-a-thon would be a "life-changing" experience. "At the end of the class," she said, a little too enthusiastically, "everyone should feel free to give it a try themselves." Sounds like a blast. A bunch of women laying on the floor, legs over heads, with their hands up their yip yips. Will tea and cakes be served?

Beyond the creeeeepy factor -- at least for me -- being your own gyno isn't a walk in the, er, nether regions. The website Women's Health Specialists of California makes it sound like hard work. "By using a speculum, you can observe changes in your cervix, secretions, the menstrual cycle, and indications of fertility; you can identify and treat common vaginal conditions; and you can learn what your cervix looks like day by day."

I don't know about any of you, but my schedule does not accommodate tracking my secretions and studying the contours of my cervix. I leave that to the professionals.

Do you think there are benefits to a self-vaginal exam? Or would you rather just not go there? 

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22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Gigohead  May 28, 2009, 10:09 AM

I did she a blog once of a young gal who took a picture of her cervix using a speculum and it was interesting to see how it changes from closed, to open and fertile and once again to closed during menes. It was very important to learn but I however, don’t want to see my own. I think I get the gist of things from the view above.

Anonymous May 28, 2009, 12:31 PM

Um no. Gynos spend years in school learning to do what they do. So..I will leave it up to them. Besides it is only once a year!

Anonymous May 28, 2009, 1:06 PM

many many women do this. get out of the ice age ladies. the fact that you’re calling it your “yip yips” is sad as well. everyone needs to be more comfortable with themselves. while it doesn’t substitute for routine visits, knowing this is valuable information

Anonymous May 28, 2009, 1:22 PM

I’ll stay here in the ice ages where doctors perform routine medical exams. Thanks.

Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up May 28, 2009, 1:38 PM

A lot of women have learned how to track their fertility by checking their cervix and cervical fluid. It’s really not a big deal. Personally I think doctors should be teaching women how to do this instead of relying on pee sticks to tell them when they’re fertile.And does your professional actually track your secretions and cevix? No. They see you just once a year. That’s not tracking.

The idea of a group class though is what would make it weird for me.

yip-yip May 28, 2009, 1:42 PM

Okay, people..deep breath..let’s all say this together-VAGINA. It’s not a yip-yip, hoo-ha, fanny, patty, vajayjay, or cat. Holy crap, it’s 2009.. Let’s stop using these juvenile euphemisms for our genitals. Its embarrassing. I’m assuming the writer is an adult, as are (hopefully) all of the people that visit this site, so stop. We aren’t 12. Furthermore, why WOULDN’T you want to know how to make sure your vagina is healthy? Like the woman said- you see a gyno ONCE a year, not daily, so if there are any changes or things feel weird, there’s potential for 364 days passing before some women are allowed by their insurance to have another exam. Just as we all are supposed to do breast exams, why not take a look at your genital regions as well? These are your bodies, women. Be proud of them and do what you can to take care of them. Once again.. VAGINA.

Rean May 28, 2009, 2:03 PM

Um, this isn’t very radical. This is a 70s thing. Check out a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Your mom may have tried it. :-)

--Tara May 28, 2009, 2:29 PM

Okay… I think I will pass on this. I’m in touch with my body and know what I feel I need to know about my girly bits (yes, I said girly bits not vagina.. there is more than a vagina down there and I don’t feel like listing all the names… so there). I just feel safer and more secure with a doctor checking out if everything is all right… they went to school and know a hell of a lot more about than I do.

little k May 28, 2009, 3:32 PM

Surprise, surprise but not every woman across America goes to a gyno. So I think this is a great idea.

ame i. May 28, 2009, 4:04 PM

Along with monthly breast checks I also grab a hand mirror to take a look-see Down There. I started this after a dear sister-in-law went through surgery to treat skin cancer,melanoma (sp?, in the area of her pubic region. Sorry, I can’t think of a good way to describe the area but she also ended up having a fist-sized portion of flesh removed from
her inner thigh to make sure all cancerous tissue was removed. It was a horrible experience for her so I do think it is important to at least do a visual inspection.

Maeby May 28, 2009, 6:17 PM

@ ame i. i never even thought about melanoma being in that area. good to know.

i also do mirror exams to make sure my bits are doing fine, not sure i would speculum it though, ive got clumsy hands.

Doctor Liz May 29, 2009, 12:34 AM

As a Gyno, I think anything that empowers women and helps them know their own bodies is a good thing. Group class? ok, maybe not for me, but I will say I saw something like this on TELEVISION in England a few years ago! We in America could really use getting more comfortable with what REAL women’s bodies look like, even on the inside. And BTW, melanoma is the second most common vulva cancer, and I think I’m going to suggest that kind of self-exam to my patients between their yearly visits with me!

Cassandra July 16, 2009, 5:53 PM

Pelvic exams are sick sexist, violating, embrassing, useless exams that can be replaced by CSA Blood tests which are more acurate at testing HPV, and other alternatives. Every woman should do her own exam and get her own sample and send it to a lab if she truly feels the need, and to know her body. WOMANHOOD IS NOT A DISEASE! Women have been surviving for a very long time without OB/GYNS Join women against stirrups on yahoo.
Check out my blog for do-it-yourself pelvic exam sites

Leeya October 28, 2009, 9:44 AM

I think the funny names are just that - funny. I don’t feel juvenile if I say hoohaa and usually it’s when I’m joking about something with my girlfriends. With my daughter when we discuss our bodies, it’s called a vagina. On my blog I call it all knds of names, but just for fun and giggles because we all already know it’s a darn VAGINA. I take a mirror downstairs often! If I could buy a speculum and take a peek inside I would! Why not? I don’t find my exams sexist at all. I would never scrape my own cervix and send it in! My female gyn can do that and do it properly because she is at the proper position and angle anyway. Her expertise has found abnormal cells on my cervix.

Kenzie October 31, 2009, 8:03 PM

I think it is a problem that women only go to the gyno once a year, usually at best. Self exams can be done regularly, and therefore catch an issue more quickly. Becoming acquainted with your own body can help you know warning signs that you may have missed otherwise.

Although I do think women need to continue to go to the gyno, I think self check-ups are a great idea.

Whether it be UTIs, yeast infections, STDs, STIs, or other problems, being aware can help you acquire treatment faster and thus speed recovery.

I think if this sort of thing were more encouraged and socially acceptable there would be a drop in sexual health problems. Education is power.

SoCal PP Doula November 5, 2009, 8:27 AM

“By using a speculum, you can observe changes in your cervix, secretions, the menstrual cycle, and indications of fertility; you can identify and treat COMMON vaginal conditions; and you can learn what your cervix looks like day by day.”

This sounds more like empowerment for women! It doesn’t sound like someone wanting to save a buck going to the gyno, but another tool to understand the way our beautiful bodies function. In my opinion this was written irresponsibly and ignorant of the purpose of this workshop! Tisk-tisk!

JN November 16, 2009, 9:39 PM

Our doctors don’t recommend routine gyn exam at any age and we only see a gynaecologist when we actually have a problem or we’re pregnant.
My doctor actually believes these exams are harmful as they can lead to unnecessary and possibly harmful further investigations.
I’m very pleased our system differs from yours…with all this examining and testing, you’d think your cancer rates would be the lowest in the world.
They’re not, not even close…
Adjusting for population differences, we have the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world and send the fewest number of women for biopsies. (Finland)
No breast exams until we’re in our 40’s.
CBE in younger women just means lots of unnecessary breast biopsies.
Cervical screening is offered to sexually active women from age 30 and 5 yearly, stopping at 50, 55 or 60. (5-7 tests in total, US women have 50-60!!!!)
I was told straight by my Dr that cervical cancer is an uncommon cancer and the smear is an unreliable test.
As a very low risk woman, I have declined screening. Other low risk women are given the facts as well.

High risk women follow the same schedule - 5 yearly from 30…as more frequent screening and earlier screening doesn’t benefit women and just sends lots of women for unnecessary biopsies for false positives.
Over-screening and testing young and low risk women leads to harm.
I know in the States…you screen virgins, teenagers, young and elderly women and low risk…and you’re all very over-screened leading to the highest rates of excessive colposcopies and biopsies in the world. Almost every US woman will have biopsies and many will think they had cancer, when in fact, it was probably a false positive.
The over-treatment of women has lead many women to assume this cancer is everywhere…it’s not, it’s uncommon and always was and was in decline before screening was introduced…
I understand the excessive colposcopy industry in the States is worth one billion dollars.
I’m 46 and have never had a pap smear or pelvic exam. I had my first breast exam at 42 and will have them 2 or 3 yearly from now on…
Even a high risk woman my age would only have had 4 pap smears.

I think a sense of balance is missing from the US sytem and it ends up harming you…it hasn’t resulted in less cancer, just lots of harmful biopsies and procedures. Some of these women end up with continuing health problems, there are risks with cervical biopsies and cone biopsies can weaken and damage the cervix. Don’t under-estimate the risks of over-treatment.

There is a better way - protect yourselves from over-screening, over-examining and over-treatment.
These annual visits no doubt play a part in your HUGE hysterectomy rates - one in three women!!! That is very frightening and should be a matter for immediate investigation. I assume it is a reflection of the attitude that all women are diseased until proven otherwise…
I think it’s an unhealthy way to think…we should assume we’re well, until proven otherwise.
I agree with the earlier poster - US women are not walking diseases. You all deserve to lead lives without this constant hovering medical threat.

bill November 29, 2009, 12:09 AM

When I was a little kid growing up my aunt wasa nurse — she worked fora woman gynecologst although at th tieI hadno ideawhattht meant — butanyway whenever my sister andIwent to see her she’d take msistger into a separate room andexamineher.

When Igured 12 she brought me in w/hersshe said it wa “educational” for a littleboy to seehis sister examined like tht and that’s how Ilearned how girls have gynexams.

My sisgerofcourfse as mortifiedtoahve herkidb roherin w/herwhen shehadapelvc fully disrobed butboth my momandauntfelt it was”educational”’ and thenaferardes I tookoffall myckothe andshe was in the room when the aunt examined my you know whaat! April 30, 2011, 5:51 AM

Self vaginal_exam.. Nifty :) June 2, 2011, 10:17 PM

Self vaginal_exam.. Great idea :)

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