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My #1 ‘Down-There’ Health Tip

This takes only about 15 minutes, once a year, and it can save your life.

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Sometimes it’s hard to talk about our lady parts. While the dick-swinging portion of the world can brag about the size of their junk, or mention which way their wobbly bits are leaning that day, the ladies usually tend to keep their privates, well… private.

My #1 ‘Down-There’ Health Tip

Open up to your doc about this and it could save your life.

But there comes a time when we all must talk about our nether regions in order to stay safe and healthy. I know this from experience. Not too long ago, I was diagnosed with – and beat – a rare form of breast cancer. Now I don’t mess around. I no longer have the attitude that ‘it can’t happen to me’, or ‘I’m too young to get cancer’.

We live in a world full of toxins, and the cancer rates for young people are skyrocketing. That’s why I never miss my cancer screenings. They’re, frankly, one of the most important things I put in my calendar because, while I learned a lot from beating cancer, I would say it’s a much better idea to catch cancer before it settles in.

Your healthcare practitioners agree. The National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) and HealthyWomen (with support from Hologic, Inc.), believe that women should be tested for various forms of female-specific cancers, early and regularly. And, in honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, HealthyWomen and NPWH are trying is trying to help women shed their shyness and start talking about their lady parts with the brilliantly-named campaign “Sentiments from the Stirrups.”

My #1 ‘Down-There’ Health Tip

This takes only about 15 minutes, once a year, and it can save your life.

Now, we all know that a gynecology visit is not always the most pleasant experience. The doctors unceremoniously stick cold, metal devices up your hoo-ha and jiggle and expand them in ways that you didn’t know your vagina could handle… and not in a sexy way. You sit there in a silly hospital gown with your legs in the air, (not waving them like you just don’t care), trying –awkwardly– to make small-talk with the doctor who’s somehow managing to tell you about the beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing lately, while peering intently into your cervix like a miner searching for gold. Needless to say, there are certainly a number of sentiments being felt from the stirrups!

For example, did you know that 80% of women keep their socks on while in the stirrups, and prefer to wear granny panties to the gyno instead of lingerie? I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to use my sexy panties for my gyno visit, even if the doctor is Dr. “McDreamy” Derek Shepherd in the flesh.

My #1 ‘Down-There’ Health Tip

And if you’ve ever felt stupid when your doc tells you that you’ve got your gown on the wrong way, take solace in knowing that you’re in good company. 45% of women believe the gown should be worn to the front. That means 55% of women believe the gown should be worn open to the back. And, almost 20% believe they could turn it into a good look with the right accessories. Wow. Either that’s a lot of seriously nervous women, or those gowns are tres-unintuitive.

If you’re wondering if all this applies to you, experts recommend that women 21-29 receive regular Pap tests, and that women 30-65 receive Pap+HPV when getting screened for cervical cancer.

More than 12,000 women will learn they have cervical cancer this year, and more than 4,000 will die from this highly preventable disease, according to the CDC. Cervical cancer was once the-most-fatal cancer among women, but with the introduction of Pap screenings in the 1950s, cervical cancer death rates have plummeted 70%. That is incredible! And, if you get the vaccination against HPV, your chances of getting sick are even lower.

That’s why NPWH and HealthyWomen, with support from Hologic, Inc., want women to open up about their gyno experiences to spread awareness about cervical cancer. And I agree — it’s high time that we ladies start talking about what’s going on down where the sun don’t shine. How do we feel about having our feet up in the stirrups? What is the consensus on this hospital gown issue? And most importantly, how can we more effectively protect ourselves from cervical cancer? The first step is to talk about Pap+HPV at your next GYN exam. To learn more about cervical cancer screening, visit HealthyWomen.org and use hashtag #StirrupSentiments.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me, with support from Hologic. The opinions and text are all mine.

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 82 Comments

  1. Marian Cox

    Gyno exams are never meant to be comfortable. Come on ladies, cold metal inside our vaginas? Of course, that’s not comfortable. It was never meant to be like that anyway, but it’s required in order to make sure that our health is fdoing A-Okay all the time. Preventive measures are better rather than taking the medication because you’re already sick.

  2. Connie Collier

    Women’s health can be very complicated at times. We have to really take care of ourselves and make sure that we’re healthy from head to toe. We can’t just eat healthy and work out. We have to make sure that we’re cancer free too. Honestly, it’s only now that I read this article that I was reminded to go on my annual check up. I’m guilty but I haven’t been to my OB for 2 years already. I’m not sexually active so I guess there isn’t much reason to worry but there’s always cancer that we have to keep in-check.

    • Brooke Froberg

      It’s not easy to keep track of our overall health. I suggest that you schedule your appointments yearly and no matter what happens, go to that appointment.

  3. Myrtle Bailey

    Uh, I don’t get why I should be wearing a lingerie to the doctor.

  4. Anne Knotts

    I agree, it only takes about 15 minutes and it could save your life. A trip to your doctor can save you from something that can’t be reversed.

  5. Sandy Green

    Sorry for this rant, but it’s so annoying how women’s health is so expensive. Men don’t even care to get yearly tests or vaccinations for the health of their freaking penises. They don’t even care about spreading STD to their partners if by any chance they acquired it. I even hate the fact that women have to undergo birth control and we have to spend so much for a box of pills that make us feel terrible if we get off it. We even have to buy tampons or sanitary pads for our periods… Why is being a woman so expensive.

  6. Shirley Haynes

    Ladies, you really have to be careful of your health down there. Who knows, you might have a partner that has sexually transmitted something to you and you’re still not aware of it. Awareness may be scary at times but it’s your weapon to safety. Don’t lie to your OBGYN as well because it will be hard for them to recognize the real problem if you’re not telling the truth. I’ve met ladies who even deny that they have sex when they visit the OB. But ladies, the OB knows everything that’s going on even if you’re not telling the truth.

  7. Julia Hopkins

    You have to check your health down there. I hate how others choose to go spend on facials rather than getting tested or vaccinated for cervical cancer.

  8. Kathryn Hill

    I’m honestly intimidated in going to the doctor for my V. I’m terrified of what I might discover.

    • Corrie Lynne

      It’s better to discover something early than regret about not being able to do anything anymore!

  9. Cora Watson

    I remember this one time that I was hospitalized for bleeding for an entire month. Turns out I had PCOS but I had to go to a new doctor instead of my usual OB. What drove me nuts is that the OB was a lesbian. I have nothing against the LGBT community but I don’t feel okay spreading my legs in front of a person who are interested in my gender. It will be the same with a male OB, I wouldn’t want my OB to be a guy and be asked about my sex life. Not only is it awkward, it just feels really off.

  10. Johanna Fletcher

    OB visits should be comfortable and never awkward. It’s highly suggested that you find an OB that you can be comfortable with so you can properly discuss everything it is that you need to know.

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