In the first part of our survey (Part A), you talked to us about your sexual identities, self-care routines and the quality of sex education you’ve received over the years. In the second part, we focused on listening to your own personal experiences and perspectives on the difficulties you face. We read the subjects you need to know more about, we read about the times you were criticized by your gynecologist, or when you felt uncomfortable during examinations, even about you who suffered sexual harassment at the gynecology clinic. Here are some interesting or even disturbing instances from the personal experiences your shared with us.
Sexual Pleasure and Well-Being
Starting with the subjects you need to know more about, most women and people with vaginas find themselves in the dark when it comes to their sexual pleasure and well-being. If we don’t know our own bodies and what gives us pleasure, how could we enjoy our sex life alone or with our partner? The same goes for matters of pain, wellness and general gynecology. When we are not aware of different behaviors of our bodies and what might cause them, we might put our or our partner’s health at risk.
History of Feminism
In a more theoretical level, how much do we really know about feminism? Unfortunately, many people know too little about the history of feminism. A history no one teaches us at school, which we hardly ever see on TV, but a history very important for the progress of our society. To understand how inequality and sexism are sustained today, recognize them in everyday situations, and realize what has really changed and what needs to further change; it is crucial that we take a good look at the roots of these issues and at the breakthroughs of feminism so far. For all of us who struggle for equality among all genders, the history of feminism can help, inspire, teach and encourage us to keep on fighting in our own ways.
Having a Regular Gynecologist
Moving on, another interesting point of our survey is the great number of people who don’t have a regular gynecologist and we asked the reason why. “Because I move quite often lately”, “I changed residency”, or “I recently moved” were the most common answers. Therefore, a very often factor that prevents women from having regular gynecologists, is the frequent moving. Of course, traditional gynecological examinations as we knew them until today, require our physical presence at the gyno. Yet another barrier omgyno is here to lift! Our telehealth services seek to help you build a stable, trustworthy and honest relationship with your gynecologist, no matter where you live. As for you who have regular gynecologists, the majority would describe them as open-minded in matters of sexual wellness. However, there are also those who have met conservative and impersonal doctors, or judgmental ones. Critical comments and prejudice can cost the patient not only their physical/vaginal and psychological health, but also their trust in gynecologists in general.
Negative Experiences during a Visit to the Gyno
And that brings us to possibly the most shuttering part of our survey, which concerns negative experiences you went through during a visit at the gyno. We realized a wide range of negative experiences, including incidents when the gynecologist “answered everything in one-word, without explanations” or when “he had given false diagnosis, …leading me to a period of stress and insecurity[…]. Ever since, every visit at the gynecologist makes me nervous, pale and about to cry.”
Some of you told us that “one of the gynecologists looked at my vulva and said ‘I should bring your mother in to take a look at your warts’. I immediately got up and left, not because I was scared, but I got really mad at her behavior and audacity”. Or we read about you, who had to listen to your doctor say : “…it is women’s fault who decide to give birth in older age, they want to pursue careers and remember their roles quite late”. Many of you also mentioned “I feel uncomfortable when gynecologists push me towards having a child”. The situation though gets worse, since others wrote that they have suffered “sexual harassment by an old male gynecologist” or reported that “my gynecologist raped me when I was 21”.
That being said, 4 out of 10 have been judged, shamed, made feel uncomfortable and nervous, been traumatized and harassed by gynecologists. We would expect that a visit to the gyno is quite typical and ordinary like any other doctor. However, it is an examination that puts us in a sensitive and vulnerable position, and any instance of exploitation, horrible and unprofessional behavior, can cause us to lose our trust, feel unsafe and uncomfortable during a “typical” examination -let alone risk our physical and psychological health.
So what we ask is simple: “A civilized person…”, “proper scientist, trustworthy and direct”, “with informative attitude, without causing shame or guilt”, someone who “inspires calmness, safety and trust”. A visit to the doctor is a simple matter for some people, but for many a “simple” exam has turned into a traumatic experience. These are unprofessional and abusive behaviors that were kept in the dark until today. This is another challenge in our daily lives that we have to make visible, highlight and deal with it. We all deserve a safe experience at the gyno, a comfortable visit, without being judged, but informed, without feelings of awkwardness but the best possible care.
So, we thank all of you who shared your personal experiences and opinions with us. Omgyno is here to raise awareness about all your issues that remain unseen by society. We are here to inform and learn from you, to provide the best possible service to anyone who needs it, while keeping an open mind regardless of gender, sexuality, age, looks or language. Above all, we want to offer the opportunity to build relationships of trust with our gynecologists, who will make you feel safe and sound, and that will offer you a pleasant experience to ensure your mental and physical well-being.
Words by: Chrysiida Psarri