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Dear Wellness Center Nurse

October 13, 2009

Dear Wellness Center Nurse:

During my first pelvic exam ever (yes, I know, I am a bit behind), there were a few notable things that happened.  First, you asked me what kind of birth control I used, I said none and that it wasn’t an issue since I’m gay.  You blushed a little bit and apologized saying “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed,” and then when I said it was ok, kept going with the questionnaire.  This was just about the best response possible – acknowledging the mistake, realizing that the assumption could be hurtful, but being able to move on with the rest of the exam.  As a note, I wasn’t hurt or offended, actually, especially since you were just trying to figure out my sexual health status.

The main thing that happened was that after getting me in the stirrups, the first thing you said (after explaining everything that you were going to do and what to expect), you said “This looks perfectly normal.”  That statement, said in passing, was so nice to hear.  I’ve seen a few vaginas, and a few people have seen mine, but to hear from somebody trained to look at them that I was normal was so comforting.  I didn’t realize how rarely I’ve talked about what vaginas look like, until you said that and it put me so at ease.  I can’t imagine a better way to make me feel safe, and to make me more ok with my own body parts.  You didn’t say I was exceptionally beautiful (probably would have been an embellishment), or that this or that looked funny, or that it smelled funny, or any other thing that women tend to be insecure about.  You simply told me that I, at least externally, was totally fine and normal.  I don’t need to worry about my various parts looking different from everyone else’s, which is really nice to hear.  I think of myself as relatively educated about female genitalia, but the validation from a medically-trained stranger was incredibly comforting, and what I remember most vividly about the whole appointment.

Thank you.  Pelvic exams aren’t the most fun thing in the world, but that certainly helped.

Sincerely,

Your early morning Monday appointment.

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