Recent findings by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded there is “little to no evidence that pelvic exams are necessary” for healthy women and there’s little point in them getting one. When I read this I shrugged and thought, “Huh. That’s surprising.”
No, wait. That’s not right. I think it was more like: “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN THEY AREN'T NECESSARY?!?”
As a woman of a certain age, I’ve endured my share of these exams over the years because I assumed the pelvic was a potentially lifesaving diagnostic tool.
Why else would we pull fuzzy socks from our purses and wriggle into position while spread like a butterflied chicken? It doesn’t help that the exam room is always so cold you find yourself wishing there was a freshly dead horse nearby just so you could crawl inside the carcass and warm up like Leo did in that bear movie.
Turns out, doctors and government medical experts have concluded, when it comes to performing a thorough pelvic exam, they basically have been doing it for generations “because everybody else was.”
Which makes me think their hobbies must include jumping off cliffs and other peer pressure activities our mamas always warned us about.
How is this even possible? All these years no doctor thought to ask: “Uhhh, you know I’ve been sticking my hand in the honey jar, so to speak, for years but damned if I have any idea what I’m looking for. Seriously. No clue. Sometimes, I wish I could reach in there and pull out a howler monkey just to make it seem like I’m doing my job.”
Listen, I’ve had some wonderful docs over the years. They have been sensitive to my hugely embarrassing “white coat” anxiety and have, accordingly, treated my “South of France” as Aunt Verlie calls it, with professional brevity.
So, there’s that.
But I have to think this would never happen to a man. Not because he doesn’t even have a South of France but because I think a man would be more likely to question such an invasive procedure. As in: “Hey, Doc, why exactly DO you do that anyway?”
And the doctor might look up and say: “You know, Fred, to be honest, I have no flippin' idea.”
And Fred would say, “Well, how about you knock it off?”
And the doc would say: “Okie dokie.”
Finding out the exam you thought was the Holy Grail of women’s gynecological and reproductive health, well, isn’t, reminds me of the story of the woman who always cut 4 inches off a country ham before she put it in the oven. When her husband asked why, the wife said: “Because that’s what my mother always did.” She decided to ask her grandmother and her response was: “Because that’s how my mother always did it.” Finally the woman asked her great grandmother who said: “I always cut the end off because it wouldn’t fit in my pan.”
Yes. It’s exactly like that.