At a place like Baylor, I do not think women’s health is talked about enough. If it is talked about, it’s never in an effective or helpful way. I’m here to change that. I am currently taking a course called Human Sexuality (it’s a great class, and you should take it if you get the chance) and I am learning things about my body that I never knew existed. The biggest takeaway, though, is that you and I need to start taking charge of our health, and not just for reproductive reasons.
First of all, I feel like there is a lot of stigma surrounding going to a gynecologist, especially in regards to the ever-prevalent Christian purity culture that permeates Baylor. I am here to say that knowing your body and your health is incredibly important, even if you are not sexually active. In my class, I learned that women and people with uteruses should start seeing a gynecologist at age 21. An entrance and wellness exam helps in identifying any abnormal or potentially dangerous things that are happening down there. A Pap smear, for example, identifies whether or not you may have cervical cancer. You don’t have to be sexually active to develop cervical cancer. Similarly, seeing a gynecologist can be helpful if you are experiencing painful period symptoms. Painful periods can be symptomatic of endometriosis, dysmenorrhea or pelvic inflammatory disease. These are just a few of numerous conditions that women are affected by at all ages. By starting now, you are setting up yourself to take charge of your own health. By starting now, something that could be dangerous could be identified early enough to fix. By starting now, you are setting up a baseline in case something develops later on. My point is this: you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeing a gynecologist if you haven’t already seen one. Please do not let purity culture or shame keep you from taking care of yourself. Your vagina deserves to be healthy, and so do you.
Now, if you are having sex, you should definitely see a gynecologist — especially if the reasons I listed above aren’t enough to make you go. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are no joke and should be taken seriously. Many of them are lifelong diseases and can impact your daily life. Even if you’ve only had one partner, you need to see a gynecologist, especially if you are having sex without a condom. This meant to be a preventative measure. Condoms are the only contraceptive that prevents the spread of STDs. Additionally, college students are inherently at a higher risk of contracting STDs due to college culture. Alcohol abuse and sexual coercion mixed with multiple partners is a reality for many college students, even at Baylor. I am not saying this is everyone or you, but I am trying to point out that these things happen and the consequences of them are very real. By seeing a gynecologist, you can be certain of your STD status. This not only helps you, but also any future partners you may have. It also ensures that there are no underlying abnormalities that you may not be aware of.
Lastly, seeing a gynecologist is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health too. Ensuring that everything is healthy and looks good can put your anxieties at ease. It can also make you feel more comfortable in your own body. I know that we all have our own insecurities. For women, that insecurity can sometimes be caused by how you feel about how your vagina looks. A gynecologist can not only answer questions you may have, but provide reassurance for any doubts and insecurities you may have. At the end of the day, gynecologists are probably some of the most body-positive people out there. I know it may sound odd, but being naked and in a vulnerable position with a doctor might actually help with any internal negative feelings you may have about yourself. It may help you be more confident and comfortable with your body and how it is.
There are many, many reasons to start seeing a gynecologist. If you have taken time out of your day to read this, it is probably about time you start seeing one — because you deserve to be healthy and feel good in your body.