We see the letter in the mail, we can’t even remember the last one we had, we know it’s something that keeps us healthy but we put our pap off for as long as possible. We finally find the courage to make the appointment, try to make everything “as pretty as possible” so that this humiliating exam can just be finished, and go to the office. Our name is called, our heart races a bit faster, we talk to the MA, answer embarrassing questions, then get butt-naked under a paper gown to sit on a cold plastic table covered in paper. Is it purposely freezing in here? I should have peed first. Do I mention that weird discharge from last week? Our minds race with thoughts as we wait for our GYN doctor to come in. Finally they enter, stare at the computer, ask more questions, put the computer down, walk to you and inspect your breasts. You know that isn’t the worst part. The doctor put on gloves, grab the brightest light ever known to man, disappear under the drape, mumble some things, take the gloves off, look at you, smile, and say see you in a year as they leave the room.
What just happened???
Does this sound familiar to you? There is good news, the midwives at Desert Blossom Women’s Care are here to help you understand and let you know not all GYN providers are the same.
The breast exam occurs once per year at your annual appointment. We encourage breast self-awareness at home so that you become familiar with your normal breast tissue and can come in if you find something unusual. There is no special method, it’s simply learning about your body. Take some extra time in the shower to pay attention to your breast tissue and the size/shape of your breasts.
The pap. The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) recently changed their guidelines from having an annual pap to every 3-5 years depending on different health factors and ONLY after age 21. Although we need to do a pelvic exam yearly, we do not always collect a pap. When we perform a pelvic exam we are looking at your cervix, the opening to your uterus, to make sure it appears healthy. We also perform a bi-manual exam, evaluating the size/shape of your uterus and ovaries by feeling both inside the vagina and over the pelvis, again to make sure what we feel is healthy. The pap itself is when we take a sample of cells from the cervix and send them to the lab to look for any unhealthy or abnormal cell growth.
An annual exam is the best time to discuss normal changes in your body. We have the time to educate about what is healthy, what is not healthy, and what to expect as things change. Hopefully this calmed some fears and you will make an appointment today to see what the Desert Blossom Women’s Care difference is!
John Hopkins Medicine. Breast Self Awareness. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/breast_health/how_to_perform_a_breast_self-examination_bse_85,P00135
Saslow, D., Solomon, D., Lawson, H., Killackey, M., Kulasingam, S., Cain, J., Garcia, F., Moriarty, A., Waxman, A., Wilbur, D., Wentzensen, N., Downs, L., Spitzer, M., Moscicki, A., Franco, E., Stoler, M., Schiffman, M., Castle, P., & Myers, E. (2012). American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology Screening Guidelines for the Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/rebecca.rivera/Downloads/ASCCP%20Guidelines.pdf