I’m sitting in the gynecologist’s office in my paper robe, trying not to flash my doctor even though she’s about five minutes away from seeing me fully nude (and then some). I perch patiently on the edge of the exam chair while she runs through the normal questions in increasingly-difficult-to-answer order.
“Has your pharmacy changed?
“Any allergies to medications?”
“Just a sensitivity to — what’s it called? — amoxicillin.”
“When was your last period?”
“Umm, er, well, I mean, I’m not sure. Probably like a month ago?” Am I a bad woman for not knowing this?
“Are you in a relationship?”
A feeling of doom washes over me. This is where I become completely stumped. I haven’t been able to answer that question with a definitive “yes” or “no” in quite some time. I know my doctor has my best interests in mind, that the sole purpose of the query is to gauge the number of sexual partners I have, and that a talk will follow about the necessary safer-sex precautions. But even so, I get extremely tongue-tied. I stumble through a really lengthy and awkward explanation that surely gives my OB-GYN a deep-dive into my current place in the dating world.
Sometimes, it’s: “Yeah, well, not really, I mean I’m seeing this guy — we actually met about four months ago — but I haven’t had sex with anyone else and I don’t think he has. But we haven’t talked about it yet, so yeah.”
Other times, it’s: “Well, I’ve had sex with one other guy since I started seeing my current dude, but that’s over. I totally ghosted him!”
I mean, how do you tell a 40-something medical professional that you’re playing the field and avoiding emotional attachment at the moment? Not that I think she’d judge me but, in a way, she feels like an authority figure. And if she’s going to get all up close and personal with me and my vagina, shouldn’t I be able to share my tales? She’s going the same place where the very men I’m talking to her about have been.
It feels weird — and wrong — that there’s no form to complete upon check-in (or, better yet, on Zocdoc before you even show up) to sidestep this problem. Then, I wouldn’t become sweaty and say questionable things like, “Haha being naked is weird, isn’t it?” I’d bypass the discomfort of having to explain a situation that most definitely isn’t black and white, and I could give my doctor a super clear idea of where I’m at.
So here’s my big, disruptive idea that admittedly probably will not become Silicon Valley’s next unicorn. Either way, I figure it’s useful.