Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

My Trip to the Lady Doctor

So last week I went in for my annual tune up aka my annual pap smear.  This year was different because I was seeing a new for the first time in ages.

Now, first I should say that I didn’t actually go out of my way to make this appointment.  When I called the office for a refill on my pills they told me that it had been a full year since last year’s exam and they wouldn’t give me more than a 1 month refill unless I made an appointment to come in right away.  I’m not 100% sure about my insurance coverage (I have insane deductibles) and so I haven’t been making any but the most necessary medical appointments.  Anyway, they decided it was necessary, so it was necessary.  Then they informed me that my doctor, who I’ve been seeing for years, is no longer seeing non-surgical patients.  Which means me.


So they wouldn’t give me refills unless I came and let some stranger poke around my nether regions.  OK, fine, whatever.  I made an appointment with whoever in the practice was next available, who took my crappy insurance (just in case it was covered).

My appointment was one morning last week.  The practice is in one of the more upscale hospitals in the city, and the waiting room was full of pregnant women in designer clothes and their distracted husbands(who all typed away on their blackberries, while my iphone got zero reception).  Of course, the doctor was running over an hour behind schedule and the whole time I couldn’t get this song out of my head (oh, come on, it’s FUNNY).

So eventually it was my turn with the doctor and she turned out to be a few years younger than me.  OK fine, I’m old and so that’s not so strange but everytime I have to deal with a doctor who is younger than me it freaks me out a little bit.  She wanted to sit down and go over my history etc. in her office before the exam which I thought was nice.  And then we got to the juicy part where she started to ask about my sex life.

First she asked if I was sexually active.  We’d just met and so I was a good girl and answered yes, instead of, not as active as I’d like.  Then she asked me about birth control and answered her own question looking down at my chart, “oh, you’re on ”.  I added, “I also use ”.  And then she asked, in a way that wasn’t really a question, “And how many sexual partners…One, right?”.

Holy shit.  I mean, holy shit.  If ever there was a person on the planet who shouldn’t ask that question, in that way, it’s your ob/gyn.  The words she used, the tone in her voice, she made me feel like…like I don’t know what.  But the only way for us, at that point, to have an honest discussion about my sexual and reproductive health (one where she had all of the facts) would be for me to say, “No, not one.  And when you say how many partners, can you please be more specific?  Do you mean since my last pap?  Do you mean ‘how many men am I currently sleeping with’?  I need you to be more specific.”

And in that moment I didn’t feel up to saying any of that.  Not to the judgmental sounding young doctor who kept me waiting for over an hour.  Instead I lied and said, “yeah”.

ps  My parts all checked out fine AND my insurance covered the visit.

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24 to “My Trip to the Lady Doctor”

  1. Singlegal says:

    Oh my. I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that was just a Fruedian slip on her part. It reminds me a little of when I went to Planned Parenthood for my STD testing and they asked me all sorts of questions about whether or not I was in an abusive relationship. I couldn’t figure out where that was coming from – STD Testing = Abusive Relationship? I just assume they are working off some data or statistics we aren’t privy too. Still – very strange!

  2. David Pylyp says:

    a) The doctor was younger than you
    b) recent graduate?
    c) no social interaction skills because their face has been in a book for decades

    It takes years to social a doctor till they are ready and willing to discuss their fears and fobia’s in front of you, OH You thought it was your problem. The Dr’s condescending tone was her inability to deal with a [lack] in her own life and a yearning for the vicarious excitement in yours.

    They all pull their [panties] on one leg at a time.


    David Pylyp
    Living in Toronto

  3. Ann-Marie says:

    That’s unacceptable for a physician. And she was being judgemental. Having grown up around physicians there are some that just can’t be trained to have a good bedside manner. A further discovery is that doctors sexual habits are no different than the rest of us – whether they are married or single.

  4. Midtown Girl says:

    That is COMPLETELY unacceptable & unprofessional for her to ask you that – how much younger could she be? This is something no one should ask…sheesh!

  5. onedatewonder says:

    My girlie doctor looked at me last year and asked if I was in a committed relationship with one partner after I’d asked for a full STD workup. At the time, quite frankly, I was not. But I felt like saying “No” was just too awkward in the moment so I too lied and said yes. They really need to watch how they say that kind of thing.

  6. queenieNYC says:

    First of all, I kinda like that they’re making you come in for your pap. It’s important – you shouldn’t neglect it, though I understand why you’d be worried about the insurance coverage (though I’d be shocked at insurance that didn’t cover, at minimum, an annual exam).

    Second, WTF? I cannot believe she asked that question that way. That is unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE.

  7. PMFoutofwater says:

    Sometimes I fancy the idea of being a woman. Other times, like now, I don’t.

  8. That Kind of Girl says:

    Jeez! That just couldn’t be any more inappropriate! Jeez, judgmental ladydoctor. Provide information and medication, please, not judgment.

    Also: I am completely obsessed with Garfunkel & Oates now. Amazing. Amazing.

  9. Hypatia says:

    Ooof… Reminds me of my last trip!

    Bad doctors abound!

  10. The Bare Essentials Today says:

    OMG! I hate those appointments with a passion. I actually have mine with a new doctor on Monday. I dread it so much. I so don’t like to be poked and prodded in all my girly bits with two people watching me. It really sux.

  11. starangel82 says:

    I agree with queenie. Bravo for the doctor’s office pushing for your yearly. It’s an important part of women’s health.

    That said, I can’t believe she asked that question that way! I mean, the OB/GYN office is supposed to be the one place you can talk about your sexual history and questions without being judged. I’m glad my OB/GYN isn’t judgmental… or at least he doesn’t show it if he is.

  12. DateratLarge says:

    Inappropriate doctor aside… I love, LOVE the diss to pregnant ladies and excellently funny (read:true) song. Not that I don’t love and support my pregnant friends (of course). But they really do make everything about being pregnant.

  13. peppermint2 says:

    This is why women are so loyal to a gynecologist they love.

    I think you should have answered her question: “Do you mean one at a time, like, in the same room?” :-)

  14. grad student says:

    @Hypatia and SG… is it possible (at least in Hypatia’s case) that these Drs. are simply overly sensitive to finding out if their patients are in abusive relationships?? I mean, they are making sure you all aren’t in a relationship where you are being ‘forced’ or coerced into something? Anymore, it seems doctors are expected to divine any and all aspects of their patients’ lives.

    I put this forth simply because I cannot believe an educated medical professional would ask questions like that. Or make statements about how a person should live their life. I guess if the doc came from the medical side.. you know, if you are sexually active with multiple partners (either coincidentally or serially), then you need to be extra vigilant in keeping yourself safe and healthy. BUT not about you should wait and blah blah. I still cannot believe 2 lady ob/gyns would say things like that.

  15. Hopeless Romantic says:

    If I was asked with this kind of question >>> “And how many sexual partners…”gosh, I would be totally embarrassed. I mean can she just paraphrase the question in a way it won’t sound like you are being a sex addict or something? hehe

  16. AbsBlabs says:

    Most def. good they called to remind you, but holy hell. That’s crap. I’ve never had that happen, but a year ago at my college clinic, I had the ob/gyn laugh at me for getting a full std screen. She felt in un-necessary and weird. Well, I like to keep up on that kind of stuff, lady. Geeze. I guess all those psa’s are bs, too. Also, I feel you on the pregnant lady weirdness. It’s hard to get an apt. when you are not a plus one.

  17. Hypatia says:


    I think that may have been a part of it… but there was DEFINITELY some judging going on… especially with the comment she made about, “Who knows, maybe it will work out and this time next year you’ll be married!” I mean, wtf! Who said I WANTED to get married?! Those are some pretty big assumptions she made. Very off-putting.

  18. Simone Grant says:

    You are more generous than I am. I walked away feeling like I needed to find a new practice. I only went there because my specialist referred me to my old doctor (who had kind of a sub-specialty that was relative to my medical concerns). That practice caters to well-heeled married women who are pregnant and trying to get pregnant. Anyway…
    -David Pylyp
    Yes, I’d guess she was in her first few years of practice. And I realize that it takes a while for doctors to build all their skills – but this one is essential. OBGYNS have to be able to get an accurate sexual history/activity w/o being judgy otherwise they’re not doing they’re job.

    CRAP – more later. Urgent work. But oh – Hypatia, I knew my story seemed familiar.. I now I know why. I read your post!

  19. grad student says:

    @Hypatia… wow, I didn’t see the hopefully you will be married next time. Stupid. I re-read it and wow, she really was ‘helpful’ with the I don’t think you should… blah blah. I hope you didn’t dwell too long; her thoughts were not medically relevant nor very useful in establishing a dialogue or trust.

  20. periken says:

    i had to have a biopsy a while ago (i’m fine, thx) and i asked the doc how long i should expect to be uncomfortable. i consider that a valid question. it’s not needy, it’s not hypochondriac-esque- it’s just how much time is normal for healing there, so i know if something is possibly wrong. She cocks her head and snorts: Oh let’s not make this a bigger deal than it really is, ok?
    I was simultaneously dumbfounded, boiling, and frozen in time. Sooo not the answer i was expecting from my trusted medical authority. I tried not to tell her to Fuck herself with the speculum but dialed it down to – You know, just because you do this every single day doesn’t mean i have any idea what’s going on- I’d appreciate a little more bedside manner on sensitive topics.
    I almost threw in a “Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self, Lady!” – but i figured not giving her my ladybits business anymore would suffice.

  21. klawless says:

    song. hilarious. thank you.

  22. Simone Grant says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if this particular Dr. never really gets the nonjudgmental bedside manner thing down. Which is really, really sad.
    -Midtown Girl
    I’m guessing she was 5 years younger than me. At least. But that wasn’t really the point. Her age just put me on edge. I would have been just as pissed if she were my exact age.
    WTF is wrong with these doctors? You know, I would have no trouble stating the facts if I was just asked in a neutral way. Ugh, the way your doctor asked…
    I know that skipping annual paps are bad. I wasn’t trying to avoid it, just putting it off a bit until I got the details of my insurance clarified. At least that worked out.
    Be happy with your penis. Lady doctor appts are not fun.
    -That Kind of Girl
    So glad that I could share the goodness.
    “Bad doctors abound!” – indeed!
    -The Bare Essentials Today
    It does suck, especially with new doctors. I hope your appt goes OK.
    OK, OK, it’s good that I had to go in. But I’m happy I don’t have to deal with it for a year. And I will be looking for a new doctor.
    It’s a great song. And I love my pregnant friends, but then, I don’t recall any of my friends being quite that self-righteous.
    Yes, I liked my old doctor a lot. And I totally should have asked that question. But I was too shocked to say much of anything other than ‘yeah’.
    -grad student
    Believe it.
    -Hopeless Romantic
    I would have been fine with the question if she let me answer it, instead of answering for me.
    It’s kind of ridiculous how hard it is to get an appt if you’re not pregnant. I’d love to find a new doctor who specializes in single, non-pregnant/not planning to get pregnant women.
    OMG. I hate when medical professionals do that. I had a nurse do something similar to me once (In the middle of a fairly painful procedure I started to cry and was told, “it doesn’t hurt that much”). Where do these people come from? ps, glad you’re OK

  23. Anonymous says:

    Asking is unacceptable, but when I got an OB-GYN and also when I switched to just seeing my primary doctor for my paps, each provided me with a sheet to fill out and on it asks: How many partners have you had in the last year. The first time seeing an OB-GYN, I was 18 and completely scared out of my mind about it… that was even more ridiculous to me, being uncomfortable about it in the first place.

  24. I always wondered if ‘sexually active’ meant ‘at some point in the last 18 years’ or ‘this week’. :)