Friday, July 17, 2009

Is a Gynecology Exam a Violation of our Body?

I received an e-mail from Cassandra who has a blog,, who asked me to write an article on my blog and site about the harm from the routine gynecological visit. Cassandra also referred me to “women against stirrups” on Yahoo.
I totally agree with Cassandra that the annual gynecological visit is unnecessary. Many times women experience humiliation and distress, and in a fair number of cases, women receive unnecessary and sometimes harmful treatment. For example, many women in their forties and older dutifully go into the gynecologist’s office for a check-up, even though they have no symptoms of a problem, but leave the doctor’s office with a prescription for hormone-like drugs to treat their “dry vagina”.
How does this typically happen? If a woman is not having regular penis-vagina sex, the lining of her vagina becomes thinner. Because of the sexism in our society, men don’t seek out the company of women over 40 and those men that are married to women over 40 are getting older themselves and often they desire less sex. Also, many women are divorced or widowed or never-married and they are relieved that they don’t have to spend time and energy on maintaining a relationship with a man. As a result, even if a woman stays sexually active with other women or if she masturbates, the thick ridges of her vagina tend to flatten out some. Sometimes, the wall is so thin that when you put in a speculum, the vagina may develop small tears that bleed, leaving a trace of blood on the speculum when it is removed.
Immediately, the doctor informs the woman that she has “dry vagina” and has an inadequate supply of the hormone, estrogen, and she/he prescribes a hormone-like drug to build up the vaginal walls. The completely healthy woman is now taking a dangerous drug to cure a condition that she didn’t even care about.
Another common situation which leads a woman to become a candidate for hormone-like drug therapy is when a woman has some vaginal itching or discharge that prompts her to douche, and repeated douching can lead to vaginal dryness and itching. Unfortunately, since many women don’t know that vaginal secretions are normal, especially around the time of ovulation in the middle of their menstrual cycle, they douche and douche and douche, sometimes even using deodorant sprays for their nonexistent problem.
We found in our self-help clinics that we could treat this “dry vagina” problem by inserting a speculum or a dildo once a day for a few weeks (or sometimes women have used graduated smooth metal rods that their doctors have given them). This stimulation of the vaginal walls prompts them to thicken (much like the sole of the feet thickens by walking on them).
I have counseled several women to use this technique and it has been quite successful. One woman was referred to me by a women’s clinic, because she was having difficulty is having penis-vagina sex. She was in her early forties. She and her husband started a small business in their mid-thirties. Running the business took all of their time; they had no days off or vacations. Her husband, who was a few years older than she, lost interest in sex. Finally, when the business became more successful, they were able to recreate and have a social life. Then, when they tried to have sex, her husband had trouble maintaining an erection and she was experiencing pain and bleeding. I mailed her a speculum and she inserted it daily for a couple of weeks. We also talked about ways to make sure she was lubricated. She told me that her husband was attentive and considerate lover, but he was easily discouraged, and wouldn’t even try to have sex if he couldn’t feel confident that he could maintain his erection. She kept up her speculum routine anyway. Finally, he tried again and was successful and she was able to tolerate the insertion of the penis. In fact, she called the next morning to share how much she’d enjoyed herself!
The medical profession is totally ignorant of the realities of women’s lives, and it has nothing to offer us but drugs and surgery. I agree with Cassandra that women who are given hormone-like drugs for the treatment of “dry vagina” would have been much better off if they had never visited a gynecologist!