Just When You Think a Pap Smear Couldn’t Get Any More Awkward


I kept thinking, “Oh man, I wonder if they’re going to give me a something-or-other to at least to cover up.” Oh no, a pap smear with a midwife is way different than your average OB/GYN pap smear. If only my sociology professor could see me squirm now.

In college, a weird conversation came up in a sociology class discussion regarding modesty and social behavior in the world of woman’s health care – the dreaded Pap Smear. The professor asked the girls in the class to think about their behavior in the exam room. He asked, “Do you cover up your underwear?” Mind = blown because he was right. What’s the point of hiding something that covers up what your doctor’s face is all up in anyway?

Flash forward a 3.9 GPA in Sociology 101 and two surprise pregnancies later, here I am disrobing in front of the student midwife and midwife, who was entertaining Humnoy during all this. Society primed me to feel so awkward because, holy shit, I totally did hide my underwear in my yoga pants. What I was just exposed to threw everything I knew out the window about well-woman care and my body.

The differences between the Old Pap vs. the New Pap:

Stage 1: Instructions

Nurse tells you to be naked from your bottoms and put on the paper skirt and wait for the doctor to come in.

Midwife tells you to take your bottoms off.

Stage 2: Disrobing

You take your bottoms off and hide your underwear.

Midwife just chills in the room as you hide your underwear.

Stage 3: Pre-exam

Doctor knocks on door to make sure you’re ready.

Midwife totally carries on a conversation with you as you swing your vaj around to lay down.

Stage 4: Preparation

Doctor tells you to have your ass hang off the edge of the exam table and spread eagle.

Midwife tells you to touch your heels together and bring your knees apart (No stirrups necessary!)

Stage 5: Exam

Doctor tells you to relax and prepare for the speculum.

Midwife asks you to do kegels as she’s feeling around up in there as you try not to fart or do something worse. Speculum is still involved, no way getting around that.

Stage 6: Wrap-up

Doctor wraps up the session and leaves you to get dressed. You leave.

Midwife wraps up the session with extra information as you sit with your bare ass on the exam table nodding your head like an anxious puppy.

I don’t think I could have ever been prepared for such a new experience. I mean, I’m totally okay with it since they’re going to see me naked anyway but, damn, sociology really messed me up.

Do you hide your underwear for your pap smear exam?

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26 thoughts on “Just When You Think a Pap Smear Couldn’t Get Any More Awkward

  1. Heh. With my birthing center midwife I still had a nurse tell me to disrobe and a a paper blanket. And stirrups, though they were covered w socks to keep them warm. But I peed in a Dixie cup & handed it to the nurse, rather than an official sample container that I put into a pass-thru w doors Built into the wall.

    And the doctor-ish, hospital-employed midwife I used w Luz was surprised I wanted a natural birth, dismissive of my birth plan, talked about how long they’d “let” me go past EDD, and scared me at every visit w horror stories of what could go wrong.

  2. Hahahaha! I TOTALLY hide my undies! And then I go through the socks/no socks debate. The real awkwardness with our prenatal appointments though came from the fact that my husband comes with me. With the OB, whose office was in the sterile-looking hospital, not a big deal. But our midwives do the exam on a glorified couch in a cozy room and our midwife was… how do I put this… HIGHLY attractive. Poor husband, trying not to have a fantasy in the midwife’s office 😉

  3. You have me in hysterics laughing at this post. I just had a smear last week and I was thinking about how different the whole process is when you’re not either pregnant or just had a baby and have got used to your bits being your own private bits again. Getting them out suddenly feels so much more exposing, especially the heels together, spread ’em part. Oh and for the sake of the study, I always keep my socks on, and hide my knickers in my trousers, we’re programmed to do this, no? 🙂

  4. I wish there was a way to like this 100 times! Seriously funny shit right here.

    My midwives were a part of a hospital, so they did it more like the doctors experience with leaving the room when getting un-dressed. though I loved putting my heels together (much more flexible that way than the stirrup experience). And yes to hiding undies (which I also hide my bra while getting a massage, similar WTF sociology).

    • I was so programmed to expect the stirrups-position, I was completely taken aback by “Yep, just bring your knees apart.” I never thought about the bra predicament either but, yes, you are right! I hid mine when I got a prenatal massage for my birthday. Damn, sociology got me again.

  5. Hahahahaha I hide them! Every time! And I always think about how ridiculous that is. At my last GYN checkup, Ben was 6 months old and came with me. Of course, as soon as I had on the open-in-the-front gown they give you and he saw boobs, he needed them, so, he had them. And it crossed my mind, “Ooh, I hope no one walks in.” Completely absurd, on every single level possible… SMH…

  6. I love using a midwife instead of a doc for pap spears! My midwife does home visits so my appointment was on my bed while my hubby was watching the baby. It lasted for all of about 45 seconds while she did what she needed to do and got out before I really even realized she had started. Still a spectrum of course, but it was over so quickly, and being at my own house was awesome. I didn’t even think about hiding my underwear though. She had delivered my child so trying to scrape together any remnants of modesty was way beyond unnecessary!

    • Oh, how I wish I had home visits! I had this preconceived notion that that’s how prenatal visits would work for home birth but, boy, was I mistaken. I mainly chose home birth because I didn’t want to drive anywhere. Parking, finding parking, finding change for
      Parking. 😀

      Oh, and because of how wonderful and beautiful home birth is too, of course. 😉

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