It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.
Why on earth does a grown woman need to bring anyone with her to a general pap smear appointment? Something tells me you aren’t just annoyed that your girlfriend is her mom’s puppet, you’re annoyed she isn’t your puppet. It’s not your job to “show” your girlfriend that she’s blinded by her mother. You can express your feelings about how the mother intrudes on your relationship, but, if your girlfriend doesn’t see it or doesn’t care or isn’t interested in creating some boundaries with her mother, you either need to accept that or move on.
First of all, why are you using your boyfriend’s email? He’s going to see this reply when I send you the link to this column. Don’t you have your own email? Get one, if you don’t. And get a job (if you don’t have one) so you don’t have to ask men for money in exchange for cooking, cleaning, and doing everything to make them happy. As for your boyfriend, move on. He cheated on you. A birthday wedding should be the last thing on your mind.
I would talk to your family first and ask how they would feel about your taking everyone on a family vacation and bringing your girlfriend along too. Their answer should give you some idea about how they would treat her on the trip. If you don’t think they would treat her well, don’t pay for a family trip with everyone. Instead, take your girlfriend on a romantic vacation, just the two of you, and give your family more time to accept your relationship. Additionally, you could start integrating your girlfriend into family events on a much smaller scale through hosting family BBQs (or get-togethers) this summer and stuff like that. If they aren’t nice to your girlfriend in a two- or three-hour time frame, you can bet they won’t treat her well during a much longer vacation.
Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 8:44 am
LW1 I don’t get it, why would a woman take someone along to a pap smear appointment? I’m 52 and have been going for them for years and I have never taken someone along.
Side note. I’ve had four negative pap smears in a row and now they test for HPV infection and since I came up clear for it they say that as long as I am in a monogamous relationship I don’t need one!
Kate B. June 19, 2015, 10:03 am
Actually, I really wanted my mom to go with mr to my first pap smear, because I was scared. She objected on moral grounds. I went anyway, but it didn’t go well and I was kind of traumatized by it.
ktfran June 19, 2015, 10:23 am
My mom went with me my first time, but I was like 17 or 18 and still on her insurance and I was nervous/not feeling like a real adult yet. Also, it wasn’t for birth control, it was for constant spotting. But that was the only time she went with me to my lady doctor.
ktfran June 19, 2015, 10:31 am
Oh, and when I was ready for birth control at 21 (late bloomer, I know), I told my mom and she told me to take care of it myself. Off to planned parenthood I went. Thank god for PP! And shame on all who try to defund it. Really, it’s the best way for people without insurance (because I was still on my parents and in college at the time) to get help with family, or non-family planning.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 10:23 am
My first one was when I was in college and wanted to go on birth control. My mom would not have approved. I definitely didn’t tell her about it.
Ale June 19, 2015, 10:51 am
I have taken my bf to my pap smears because of the possibility of sexual harrassment. It is better to have someone with you in any medical procedure.
Vathena June 19, 2015, 11:02 am
My doctor’s offices almost always have another person (nurse, medical assistant) in the room during a procedure. Is that not common practice?
Cleopatra Jones June 19, 2015, 11:40 am
I’m not sure what that means–possibility of sexual harassment.
Does your doctor say inappropriate things during the exam? Do you feel uncomfortable with a male doctor and are doing a preemptive strike? Are there not any assistants in with the doctor?
IIRC, you aren’t in the U.S., so this is so very intriguing to me.
SLS June 19, 2015, 11:44 am
@Ale – who is going to sexually harass you? The doctor?
I assure you that if you are going to a respectable OBGYN practice group that this would NEVER happen. In addition, if it is because you have a male doctor (or vice versa).. then switch. Personally, I have a female OBGYN because a male doctor would make me uncomfortable. But, if I had to see a male physician, or when I go to the doctor in general, I have no fear of sexual harassment. It really concerns me that you have this concern when seeing a physician (one that truly should be a confidant and someone you stick with for years).
SpaceySteph June 19, 2015, 11:50 am
This seems like an overreaction. You could ask a nurse/office staff member to come into the exam room if you are worried about it. My doctor does this by default both to protect himself from false allegations and to put patients at ease. But then, if you ARE worried about it, it’s probably time to find a new doctor that doesn’t creep you out?
Ale June 19, 2015, 12:57 pm
It is not an overreaction. Nobody has sexually harrassed me in a medical practice. In my country we have two options: social security and private practice. When I can afford the time and money to go to a private ob/gyn, I get a medical consult that lasts an hour and includes a pap smear. My boyfriend has joined me, although he does not come in. My privat ob/gyn is a male doctor, and he is really good.
However, if what I need is only my annual pap smear, I go to the social security service, which is free and really good. The thing is most of the time, they are under staffed and a nurse is not available. Also, the doctor is a woman, but sexual harrassment can come from a male or a woman either way.
My country has very strong laws that protect mostly women from sexual harrassment. This law defines that the only witness necessary to convict a person is the victim. That means that if a woman says that she was harrassed, that is the most important testimony. The law is really bad, because it doesn’t give the defendant much of a right to defend himself. And also, there are a lot of women that have managed to sue doctors over things that never happened. So, obviously medical practitioners encourage women to bring their partners, mothers, etc to their consults, so in the case that there is no nurse available, someone else would be there, mostly to protect themselves.
I think it is a good practice to have someone join you at medical consults. I’ve never felt less of an adult or less independent by having my boyfriend or mother join me. Also, when it comes to sexual health it is something that concerns both of us, so why not have him join me?
Portia June 19, 2015, 11:49 am
The only time I had someone with me was my mom at my first 2 appointments. They didn’t get to the pap at the first. Then I bled for almost a month, so I had kind of an emergency appointment. It’d be so weird if someone came to my regular doctor’s appointments.
Bassanio did come with me when I was getting an IUD and I was glad he was there. First for the pain, and then when they figured out they couldn’t do it. I think it may have scarred him a bit, but he was so supportive. I would definitely bring him again for something like that where I needed the support.
jlyfsh June 19, 2015, 8:47 am
Why would someone at 22 need anyone with them for a general well woman visit? I’ve taken someone (they stayed in the waiting room!) with me when I had a colposcopy because I wasn’t sure if I would also need a biopsy and how I would feel after. Maybe she doesn’t know what she’s having done at the appt? I hope! Otherwise it is odd. And odd that as a gf you would want to go to the appt. I mean I don’t even want to go, why would anyone else want to join me?
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 8:54 am
The LW is her girlfriend, but your advice is great.
jlyfsh June 19, 2015, 8:56 am
Right I missed that!
muchachaenlaventana June 19, 2015, 9:28 am
ha I am deathly afraid of the doctor, like its an extreme phobia of mine and I never go to the doctor alone really. I seriously cannot. I cry and hyperventilate and need my little sister there to calm be down 🙁 yes it is sad, but maybe the girlfriend has some fear/anxiety about the doctor.
jlyfsh June 19, 2015, 9:32 am
I’m sorry that it’s a phobia for you! If it was that though, I feel like she would have mentioned it? Because, it’s probably not common? Or maybe it is!
Seriously? Seriously! June 19, 2015, 9:49 am
Dude, you NEED to bring someone with you to get a colonoscopy. I went with my dad to his, and they wouldn’t admit him unless they had someone there to sign that they [I] would take him home.
Is it just me or did it seem like this set of letter LWs were particularly illiterate? Like, not one of these read like it was written by a functional adult.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 9:52 am
We are talking about a pap smear not a colonoscopy. You need someone at a colonoscopy because they use anesthesia and it isn’t considered safe to drive yourself home afterward. A pap smear doesn’t require that and women drive themselves home or to work after one every day. There is no comparison.
Seriously? Seriously! June 19, 2015, 10:36 am
Oh, I wasn’t saying there was. I just was saying that she shouldn’t feel like she needed to defend it. But I was wrong anyway. Her thing was more relevant anyway. Ignore me.
jlyfsh June 19, 2015, 10:02 am
Actually I was talking about a colposcopy which is what they do when you get an abnormal pap smear. It’s not pleasant but you don’t need someone to drive you. If they do a biopsy I’ve heard some people are fine and other’s aren’t.
Dear Wendy June 19, 2015, 10:23 am
I’ve had a couple biopsies and was told not to drive afterward because of the high-strength tylenol I was given. Since I lived in Chicago where I could easily take a taxi or subway, there was no need for me to bring anyone with me, but if you lived somewhere without such easy access to public transportation, it would make sense to bring a designated driver if necessary.
jlyfsh June 19, 2015, 10:27 am
Hopefully I don’t ever have to have even the colposcopy done again, but good to know. My doctor told me it was up to me at the time. I heard mixed things from people who had them. Thankfully I didn’t need one!
ktfran June 19, 2015, 10:25 am
My one and only biopsy sucked. I went alone. Knew I was getting one. But I don’t own a car and had to take a cab after anyway. I didn’t make it out the building before running into a restroom and getting sick. Also, I know they numbed it before the procedure, but it still hurt like crazy. I let out a little scream.
Raccoon eyes June 19, 2015, 8:48 am
Whoa Doozies! Great answers, Wendy!!!
LW1: When you are trying to show your SO something that they dont recognize (according to you), you are really just pushing the inevitable breakup further into the future. You DO realize that you are trying to tell your GF what to do in the exact same manner her mom is, right? As in, it would be preferable to you that YOU are the puppet master and not mommy? Also, EWWW gross, why does someone need a buddy for a pap smear? What the flippity frack?
LW2: Being a “good little woman” to your man does not make him recognize that you are in fact a “good little woman.” If you are doing stuff for him to make him happy, then great! But he should be showing you the same respect. Cooking and cleaning do not make a man love you. MOA asap and next time around , look for a man who wants to be an equal partner (and YOU be an equal partner). Also, you are 22- GET YOUR OWN D*MN EMAIL. Holy h*ll.
LW3: Time to spend more time with your grandmother. Dont grovel to everyone else, and especially dont take them on a vacation that you exclude your GF from.
veritek33 June 19, 2015, 9:49 am
I agree with everything, and thank you for introducing Flippity Frack into my lexicon.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 8:53 am
LW2 – You sound like your boyfriend’s maid. There is nothing wrong with earning an income as a maid but it doesn’t work so well in a relationship. It is convenient for him to have you around doing all the things you do but he isn’t respecting you. If you worked as a maid for someone else they would pay you and then you wouldn’t have to ask your boyfriend for money. Find a job that pays, become independent, even if that means getting an apartment with friends, and live your life with dignity. Then you won’t have to ask your boyfriend for money and you can break up with any guy who is having sex with your former best friend. Also, you can get your own email account whether you have your own income or not. If you go to gmail.com or yahoo.com you can sign up for your own account for free. Then you will never have to use a boyfriends email account again. Also, most libraries have computers that are available for use by the public. If you go to the library you can use a computer without your boyfriend seeing what you do and you can sign up for your own email account and the people at the library will usually help you if you don’t know what you are doing.
Also, try to date someone for several years before getting engaged so that you have a better idea of whether they will be a good long term partner. Some of the things you will want are honesty, trust, respect and love. You will come up with your own list of essential traits.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 9:44 am
LW3 If you have the time I’d take two trips. One with just you and your grandmother and one with just you and your girlfriend. If you can only take one trip at this time I’d make it a trip with your grandmother. She is a special person in your life and the one person in your life who has been supportive. Grandmothers don’t last forever so I’d take her first, if she is healthy enough to travel. Before telling her you’d like to take her on a trip I’d ask her if there is some place she’d love to go or a place she’d love to see. It might be a vacation spot but she also might want to see a place that has special significance to herself. My MIL was born in Gibraltar but had no memory of it so went there on a vacation to see where she was born. Some people may want to see the place that their parents or grandparents grew up and talked about. I’d ask and get her ideas before she knows that you would volunteer to take her because many grandparents would think of the cost and opt for something cheaper because they don’t want to be a burden. If you can afford the place she mentions and it isn’t a burden, check it out if you aren’t certain, volunteer to take her. If you take your grandmother you will both have treasured memories for the rest of your lives. Also, take lots of pictures and give a set to grandma.
Then, for your next trip, make it a romantic vacation with your girlfriend.
Diablo June 19, 2015, 9:56 am
Dear Wendy, My wife and I have been together for over 26 years and she has never taken me to a pap smear appointment or any other doctor’s appointment. And to retaliate, i have never invited her to any of my doctor’s appointments, although we once had dentists appointments at the same time. Is our marriage on the rocks?
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 10:20 am
That depends on whether you kiss before leaving for the appointment.
Diablo June 19, 2015, 10:37 am
Could you specify what I would be kissing?
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 11:22 am
Your wife, anywhere you both find mutually pleasing and she kisses you, anywhere you both find mutually pleasing. Just start soon enough that you are finished in time to make it to the appointment.
Diablo June 19, 2015, 11:52 am
The “short version” (thank you Tina Fey for this term) only takes about ten minutes, but it is inappropriate prior to a pap smear, though typically fine for dental appts, provided you floss before your appt.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 4:26 pm
I told my husband the same thing before leaving for my own pelvic exam a few weeks ago. Just not going to go in like that.
Addie Pray June 19, 2015, 10:38 am
Diablo June 19, 2015, 11:14 am
Don’t judge me! I didn’t post my intimate personal history on the internet for you to judge me! Somebody approve of me! Stat!
Ale June 19, 2015, 10:54 am
I am terrified of the dentist so my bf goes with me. He doesn’t come in though. He was the one who recommended this doctor to me and it is until now that I feel like I can go by myself, because she is so good.
He goes with me to almost all my doctor appointments, including pap smears, so I don’t have to explain later what the doctor said to me lol. Also, that is his way of expressing support.
Portia June 19, 2015, 11:43 am
Cleopatra Jones June 19, 2015, 11:53 am
I call fake on your comment!
Who doesn’t invite their spouse to their pap smear appointments? What kind of heresy is this?!?! As a matter of fact, I demand that my husband go to mine. I also encourage him to bring friends to occupy himself while we are waiting for the doctor.
Afterwards, we go home so I can cook & clean the house for him while we wait for the results in his email. Then we call his entire family to get their opinion on not only my pap smear results but our inter-racial marriage. FTR, his family doesn’t understand how & where he picked up a case of jungle fever, so that’s been an on-going topic for years when we go on the family vacations that we pay for.
Diablo June 19, 2015, 12:23 pm
I am not a doctor, but it’s pretty clear from your avatar that the infection originates in 70s blaxploitation pics. I suspect that he saw how Robert Forster almost ran off with Pam Grier in Jackie Brown (which let’s face it is just a pseudo-legitimized parodic Foxy Brown pic), and thought, “Hey! This could work for me!”
PS – It seems almost sacrilege to joke like that this week. Those of us white males who are not mentally ill homicidal racist assholes do have to wonder how we address these issues, how we move forward, how we heal the wounds in our societies. And humour will always be my balm against the absurdity and atrocity of life. Sorry to get so heavy allasudden.
Cleopatra Jones June 19, 2015, 1:41 pm
Yeah, that whole S.C. thing…that’s crazy. I thought after the church bombings in AL during the 60’s, we wouldn’t see that kind of raw ugly racism rear it’s head again. I was so wrong.
Just when I was starting to have hope for humanity. *smh*
Diablo June 19, 2015, 3:28 pm
I don’t know that humanity will ever be so enlightened that we cannot fall into thinking that because we feel disenfranchised, it must be “THEM,” whoever them happens to be at that moment. i know an African guy here (who is coincidentally married to a white woman), who was present as a young man at the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in south Africa, in which 69 demonstrators against racist laws were gunned down by police. he is also one of the most gentle and kind people I’ve met, despite being caught amid such atrocity. So i don’t think experience teaches hate, necessarily. I think it is taught very early in life, and becomes a set “belief armour” that is very hard to change. In Canada right now, the government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is trying to address the sad legacy of residential schools (in which first nations children were taken from their families decades ago; essentially, it was an attempt to educate them out of their culture and assimilate them into white/European society, with predictably disastrous results). It wasn’t the same as genocide, but culturally, it was not too far off. But at the time, it was well-intended, the proverbial “white man’s burden” to bring native people “forward” into the modern era. Nowadays that kind of thinking is recognized as racist. While we’ve got the first step right – acknowledging, owning, and apologizing for what was done – how do you address the destructive impact of something like this on first nations people, culture, society? Is real change so limited, just waiting long enough to forget the past? I hope not. At least we are grappling with the problem. But i doubt first nations people will ever think the wrong can be redressed, any more than slavery in the US. That being said, i do think we live in a kinder world than a few decades ago. Not perfect, far from it, but better – for women, for LGBT people, and for racial minorities. What can you do but try for a better world?
Red_Lady June 19, 2015, 10:08 am
I wonder if LW2 used her boyfriend’s email so that he would see this, and see that she was unhappy, without her having to say it directly to him. If so, your communication skills are in no way ready for marriage. Plus, you know, cheating isn’t so good for marriage either. You can’t just be the best girlfriend and expect him to love and appreciate you for it. Relationships take two people that have a mutual respect and love for one another. And that’s not what you have here. MOA
kare June 19, 2015, 10:38 am
My mom still goes with me to some of my annual pap smear appointments. I didn’t realize it was weird. She doesn’t go back in the room with me. We each have separate appointments, then go get cupcakes and spend the rest of the day shopping.
My dad took me to my most recent colposcopy and biopsy, which wasn’t ideal. My mom couldn’t take off work, and I had to have some drive me since I was taking a Valium beforehand. He just sat in the waiting room while I had it done, but still.
Seriously? Seriously! June 19, 2015, 10:48 am
That sounds so cute!
Diablo June 19, 2015, 11:18 am
My joshing above doesn’t apply to anyone who needs support for something serious. I did in fact go with M when she had surgery a couple years ago, and even gave her a lift home, that’s what a swell guy i am.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 11:21 am
I drove my husband home after his cancer surgery. I can show up when necessary and be supportive.
ktfran June 19, 2015, 12:44 pm
Maybe I’m the weird one because I also went alone when I had to have a breast biopsy. And i thought I could work after. I’m a little to the extreme the other way.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 11:00 am
LW1 Whether or not most of us see any reason why your girlfriend needs someone to go along for a pap smear it is her choice whether she takes someone and it is her choice who she takes. You can’t make her decisions for her and you can’t force her to see someone the way you want her to see them in the same way she can’t make you see someone the way she would want you to see them. If she chooses to take her mom you need to shut up and accept it. After the fact ask how the appointment went and make no comments about her mom. If you want her to see you as better than her mom you can’t be just as controlling as her mom is, you need to be supportive and kind and loving. You don’t sound like any of that. You sound like a girlfriend version of her mom. Focus on being the best girlfriend you can be and know that you either take her with the mother she has or move on and find a girlfriend who has a mom that you like better.
kare June 19, 2015, 1:21 pm
For LW 1, I don’t understand how the mom is so horrible? The mom thinks she knows what’s best for her daughter and thinks you guys should take a break. That’s not really earth-shattering. She might still be on her mom’s insurance and prefers to take her mom with her. That’s not really being up her mom’s ass. I’m guessing there’s more examples, because just that alone makes it seem like you are the one with a problem. If there aren’t other examples, you have kind of an attitude, and no wonder the mom thinks you guys should take a break.
Wendy (not Wendy) June 19, 2015, 3:21 pm
Leaving aside the crazy in the letter and responding only to Wendy’s answer: grown-ass woman here, and I’ve never been able to successfully have a pap smear; more than one doctor has suggested I bring a friend or sister in with me when I want to try, for distraction and a feeling of safety/comfort, and they say it isn’t that unusual to do so. Anyone who is in that situation (unable to achieve pelvic exam, and who knows what else) has faced quite enough shame, both internal and external, but thanks.
mylaray June 19, 2015, 3:34 pm
Yeah I was thinking the same thing. Never been able to go through with one and I’ve brought friends and my husband before. Nothing wrong with that.
Miel June 19, 2015, 6:11 pm
Is it the speculum ? I attended a talk earlier this week from a women’s health researcher about colposcopy and cervical cancer screening. Apparently, no matter all the money and people invested in this issue, the problem is still the speculum. Women don’t like speculum. Some women hate speculums so much they either don’t have or go to their exam, or it’s a fairly stressful experience.
Biomedical engineers (amongst other people) are trying to find a solution to the speculum. Believe it or not, the inventor of the speculum was a man (who would have thought ?) who experimented with different designs on his black slaves. His first design was a kitchen spoon. Even now, we haven’t really moved on from this original idea.
It is more than time that we revolutionize the way cervical exams are done. For once, I think cervical exams should be designed for the benefit of the female patient, not to make the male doctor’s life easier. Luckily, there are many men and women doing research on this topic.
What about tampons? Do some of you who hate speculum are generally fine about tampons? If I tell you you could insert a speculum the same way you insert a tampon, and it would have the same shape and the same size, would it still be a horrible experience? Would that make it easier to have a pelvic exam?
Kate June 19, 2015, 7:38 pm
Maybe someone mentioned this already, but how many paps is this girl getting??? You get them once a year if you have HPV or something, but otherwise isn’t it every five? Anyway. Remember Kayla? She wanted her bf in the gyno with her, right? Or she wanted to watch him get an exam? She and this dude would be a good match. And finally, I walked out of my last appointment after sitting pantsless for an hour and reading an entire Marie Claire. I got so annoyed I left and never got my pap.
something random June 19, 2015, 8:26 pm
I don’t remember that one. But I can’t imagine bringing anyone along for a routine pap, let alone someone who I want to see my girly parts as sexy. I did bring one of my infants once. My babysitter had bailed and so I put him in his car seat with his favorite dangle toys. Even that was really weird for me. And I just can’t relate to the desire to be there.