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The Orion

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The Orion

No more vexed vaginas: Pap smears shouldn’t cause worry

Illustration by Miles Huffman

Few things in life are as comforting as an annual Pap smear.

Take the chilling metal “duck lip” device, spread-eagle stirrups and your doc’s little latex pinky finger, and it’s better than curling up with a wool blanket, hot chocolate and the latest Nicholas Sparks novel.

I was expecting my first Pap smear, which happened two months ago, to kill my newfound sex drive. The horror stories were there, mostly from media depictions of awkward, uncomfortable gynecological appointments.

Less than two weeks after I lost my virginity, I made my regular checkup appointment with my gynecologist, and my boyfriend was kind enough to go with me.

I almost lied and said I wasn’t sexually active. I knew if I did that I could avoid a pelvic exam.

I just found out my vagina could handle a penis, and now it has to be pried open by cold metal tools before its buddy, my cervix, is scraped with a little spatula.

I wanted to make this experience as comfortable as possible. So, immediately upon seeing my doctor, I asked him what every woman wants to know before she takes that next step with a new man.

“How many boobs do you think you see in a year?”

My doctor chuckled while feeling my breasts for any lumps. He joked that he often sees breasts dancing around in his head.

“So, you count boobs instead of sheep?” I asked.

“They help me get to sleep at night,” my doctor said.

For some weird reason, the conversation did its job. Before I knew it, the breast exam was over.

Then came the dreaded Pap smear.

I scooted to the edge of the bed and hoisted my legs into stirrups while still trying to keep my knees together.

The first thing my doctor did was choose a pair of duck lips (or speculum) and put them under warm water, shocking the hell out of me because all I heard about was how cold those things were.

The first one was too big (just call me Goldilocks), so once he found the right size, he put it in and extended it. Surprisingly, this was not that uncomfortable.

But then came the spatula, which scrapes off cells in the cervix to test them for cancer. Since the cervix is far into the vaginal canal, this wasn’t pleasant.

It was a brief, painful prod up inside me.

Afterward, the doc had to put his pinky inside my vagina to check for any lumps or abnormalities. Strangely enough, this was more difficult because I knew it was coming.

Upon entry, I seized up, as if my vagina were communicating to me “Foreign object — do not admit.”

I took a deep breath and told myself to relax. Then my doctor held up his pinky and asked, “This is smaller than your boyfriend, I hope?”

Yes, doc. Yes it is.

So I closed my eyes and just let it go in. The process was much like when I first had sex.

And that was it. The doctor stood up and started prepping to leave.

“That’s it?” I asked incredulously. It was already over and it had been less than five minutes.

“What, you want more?” he said with a laugh.

Needless to say, I swaggered out of that office feeling like I graduated from some sort of college of womanhood.

And it definitely didn’t kill my sex drive.

Ashiah Scharaga can be reached at [email protected] or @AshiahD on Twitter.

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