I really did intend it as a public service announcement, *not* a scare story. I hope you'll consider it even if you have a deep aversion to such things. Here are some tips to make your gyno-health-ventures more tolerable:
Before making the appointment:
- Do your homework. Get a friend's recommendation, look on Yelp, and/or contact your local LGBT center for a list of queer-friendly docs.
- If you're reallyreallyreally nervous, you may want to make an appointment to meet the OBGYN ahead of time. That way if you dislike the person or feel that he or she isn't queer-friendly, you're not obligated to come back. If the doctor refuses or wants to charge you for a five-minute intro, call a different doctor.
While making the appointment:
- If you have a preference for a man or a woman OBGYN, say so. It's a very common request, so don't feel like you're being a pain.
- Say something like, "I need a gay-friendly doctor who's been trained in lesbian health." Whether you need the expertise isn't the point; you want someone who won't flinch at your stunning butch-osity.
- Book a morning appointment. This way you'll be fresh from the shower--giving you one less thing to think about.
A week before the appointment:
- Arrange to bring a friend if it will make you more comfortable. They can come in with you, wait in the waiting room, whatever you want.
- Make a note of when your last period was, how regular it's been, any problems you've been having, questions you have, etc. This way, you'll have it right in front of you when you're asked.
The day of the appointment:
- Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as well as clothes that aren't too much of a pain to change into and out of.
- If it will make you feel better, shave your legs and butch-scape your nether-regions. (But they've seen it all, so you seriously have nothing to worry about. I never do anything different from normal.)
- Your feet will be up in stirrups, basically in the doc's face. If you have stinky feet or something, deal with them ahead of time.
At the appointment:
- If you want, ask to see the doc with your clothing on first. Sometimes it's easier to meet on "equal" footing, (i.e. when you're not wearing a teensy robe).
- If it's your first time, or you aren't used to--uh--much in-and-out traffic, tell the doctor immediately to use the smallest speculum (pronounced SPECK-you-lum) possible. This will make it far less likely to hurt.
- Remember that you are in charge. It is your body and your appointment, even though it may not always feel this way. Even as I toughed it out with DSM yesterday, I knew that I could call it off any time I wanted to, which made me feel a little more empowered.
Any other tips I'm missing? Please add them in the comments!