Smear test chat

by

I went to a (male) gynecologist for a smear test. Second time I was seeing this doctor. While performing the test…
G:How old are you?
Me: 32.
G: What do you do for a living?
Me: I am a university lecturer.
G: Do you have any kids?
Me: No.
G (shocked!):Why??
Me: (shocked too!): err… It just hasn’t happened.
G: Look, girlie, professional success is not all there is. Go have some kids now while your eggies are there.

LP, Greece

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39 Responses to “Smear test chat”

  1. Mordecai Says:

    Hi everyone. Just a word of sympathy from Bath, UK and keep up the good work!


    Monday the 5th of October, in 1789: A hungry mob of 7,000 largely working-class women decided to march on the Versailles, taking with them pieces of cannon and other weaponry.

  2. Dr. Psycho Says:

    New doctor — stat!

  3. teleen Says:

    OMG! I had almost the same thing happen to me!

    Doc: How old are you?
    Me: 25.
    Doc: Do you have children?
    Me: No.
    Doc: Have them before you’re 35.

    I quit seeing that doctor after that.

    The only devil’s advocate I can play is that a lot of women wait too long and perhaps these doctors honestly think that they’re being helpful. (A billboard campaign was started in LA a few years back by fertility doctors that was telling women that after age 30, the chances of conception go down greatly.)

    Still, in both your case and mine, the doctor could have been a hell of a lot more tactful about bringing up the subject. Not only that, but it’s not really his business so long as you aren’t going to him specifically for fertility advice.

    Finally, I just have to say, shouldn’t these doctors know by our charts that we bloody well don’t have children?!?!?

  4. Petra Says:

    When I was in my late 20s I knew I perfectly well did not want to have children and tried to get myself sterilized. No doctor would do it since I did not have children and was not married. They thought I would change my mind. Saying I could adopt wasn’t good enough. They said there were other methods of birth control. I am 49 now and did have children.

  5. Petra Says:

    I meant I DID NOT have children.

  6. The Heff Says:

    If a doctor is calling you ‘girlie’ you should let them know that you find that inapropriate.

  7. Claire Says:

    Well at least there’s some kind of link with gynaecologists and childbirth. My mum was told her arthritis in her big toe would go away if she had children. It didn’t.

    When I was 17 and suffered very heavy periods I was seen by a gynaecologist who suggested that I was slower in maturing becuase I ‘was blonde’. The same man mentioned at a previous appointment that I was suffering heavy periods because I was ‘red-haired’.

    As he’d the examination at that point you’d think he would have noticed that I was neither blonde nor redheaded!

    • Julian Says:

      Haha, I got the same thing about heavy periods and red hair – the doctor actually looked directly at me and said “Do you have red hair? There is a link between that and heavy periods.” Since he was looking straight at me, I’d have thought he might have noticed that my hair is in fact brown… (and the grey strands indicate it’s not dyed!) This is not a MFIF, just a comment on how unobservant he was!

  8. Esmenet Says:

    Now would be an excellent time to switch doctors, I believe.

  9. Amy Says:

    I am a physician. He’s right. Having children after 35 increases the risks of all sorts of genetic diseases and developmental problems. Yes, you have eggs left after 35, but our eggs age along with the rest of us and they simply become less viable as we get older.

    • jenniferengland Says:

      …what’s your point?

      What makes you believe that the OP didn’t know that, or that she wants children?

    • Susanna Says:

      While the information is valid, presentation is everything. Doctors can say “if you are planning to have biological children, you need to know it’s best to have them before age 35 because the quality of a woman’s eggs declines sharply after that” without telling the woman she needs to get off the career track to pop out some kids lest she be unsatisfied with life. Not every woman wants children, not every woman wants to have biological children and it’s inappropriate for the doctor to assume that is what every woman wants. Give the information, but do it in a “if that is what you want, this is what you need to know” manner.

  10. Jeff Says:

    The odds of Down Syndrome positively skyrocket when you reach the 35 – 39 age range. It’s also harder to recover from the ravages of birthing when you’re older.

    Your doctor is looking out for your best interests. “Girlie” sounds annoying, but your apparent lack of appreciation for the risks of older motherhood is much more so.

    • C Says:

      That’s not really the point.

      And I’m sure all women are COMPLETELY clueless when it comes to when they should be having children and we need a doctor to lecture us on the risks of having children after a certain age, when we go for a smear test (?), because we couldn’t possibly know by ourselves. Yes, we need to be told we’re not living our lives properly by a complete stranger, because we just can’t do it for ourselves 🙂

    • Rillion Says:

      If he had simply said “You know, it becomes quite a bit more difficult to have healthy children after age 35,” that would’ve been one thing. But he didn’t– he condescendingly instructed her on what she should value in life, and being annoyed about that does not mean a person has a “lack of appreciation for the risks of older motherhood.” Sheesh.

    • Persephone Hazard Says:

      a) She knows that already.
      b) Why are you taking it for granted that she wants kids?

    • kly Says:

      The odds of Down Syndrome are still very low, even after 35. Even after 40. After 45, I admit they begin to go up a bit. I had my children at age 40 and age 42, respectively, and they are fine and I am fine, and I recovered fine.

      “Recovering from the ravages of childbirth” may take a little longer – so does “recovering from the ravages of a marathon”, or “recovering from the ravages of going hiking” for that matter, as one ages. Big deal. That doesn’t make it impossible.

      The writer is being “annoying”? No, being called “girlie” by a doctor is ANNOYING. It’s one thing to give a patient useful information; it’s another entirely to condescend to her, and assume she’s an idiot who hasn’t got the right priorities.

      Which, incidentally, is exactly what you’ve just done, Jeff, so try not to be so condescending yourself, in future.

    • Ayla Says:

      Thank goodness we had a man to come in here and mansplain to us all about how being condescended to by a supposed healthcare professional is a good thing.

      Newsflash! Nobody cares what you think, Jeff!

  11. Red Says:

    Jeff – It’s nowhere near as annoying as YOUR patronising assumption that she will definitely have kids one day. And also the assumption that she doesn’t know this. Have you ever looked in a womens magazine, or the womens supplement in a typical newspaper? Risks of older mother hood are mentioned A LOT, & the risks are pretty common knowledge.

    But of course our silly little heads are so hopeless we need a man to remind us of that. Tee hee!

  12. sitakali Says:

    Jeff: If she wanted to know the risks of motherhood, she could have asked. But since the information is everywhere (it’s impossible to live as a woman and not be bombarded with the “quick! Make babies!!!!” panic all the time), it was unnecessary for the doctor to mention it.

    Something that few people know is that as a man ages, his sperm are more likely to have defects. Yet nobody harasses men about having babies while they’re still young.

  13. EK Says:

    UGH!! That response would have been inappropriate at best even if you had asked right out for reproductive advice – but it’s simply mind-boggling when offered unprompted like that!

  14. Maggie Says:

    Not every woman wants children, and any woman I’ve met is perfectly aware of the risks of having them older. But thanks for the mansplainin’, patronising commenters!

  15. Vee Says:

    What gets to me is this assumption that because you’re a woman you’re either a) planning on having kids or b) made to feel bad if you don’t want kids cos it’s your duty as a woman.

    I am also 32 and nowhere near ready to have kids and may never be, but if I change my mind then that is something I have to deal with, and yes I am aware of the risks, but I am also the daughter of a mother who had 3 healthy, intelligent and successful children in her mid to late thirties.

    Anyway, it would have been a bit less insulting if the Doctor had started by asking ‘Are you planning on having children’ and IF the answer was yes then could have followed with “well then I feel I should warn you etc etc’ And calling an adult woman ‘girlie’ is downright unacceptable.

    It’s very easy for men to sit on their high horse about a woman’s choice of career over children. Having a child does not have to affect a man’s career. But of course, how can a silly little woman think she has the right to pursue a career? How unfeminine! MFIF!

    • Charlotte Says:

      Exactly. Because we’re women, we SURELY must want kids, our desire being so strong as to overrule everything else in life. Not always true. Actually, less common than many people (mainly men) think. I don’t want kids, I’m fairly certain. I don’t go crazy over babies (they do, however, drive me crazy), have no ‘motherly’ instinct when around children and don’t dream of a future with children. Odd? No, that’s just me, and still a women, yes. That doctor is a douche.

  16. LR Says:

    I hope you kicked him in the face. There’s more to life than reproduction.

  17. Em Says:

    Teleen says “The only devil’s advocate I can play is that a lot of women wait too long”

    I have NEVER met a woman who is putting off having children for the sake of her career. Where are all these amazing careers? Where are all these driven careerbitches (TM). They are a myth.

    I HAVE met women who are worried about what having a child might do to their promotion prospects because they work for sexist organisations who think it appropriate to discriminate against women and mothers.

    I HAVE met women who just haven’t met the right man until the optimum moment has long passed.

    I HAVE met women who have fertility problems and aren’t prepared to put themselves through the emotional heartache to change that.

    I HAVE met women who are considered too old to adopt.

    I HAVE met women who are heartily sick of being judged and valued solely on their child-bearing capabilities.

    I AM that woman.

    I’m sorry I trusted the boyfriends who lied to me and abused my kind and loving nature until it was too late, I’m sorry my body doesn’t work properly, it’s obviously #MFIF

  18. Kate Says:

    Ugghhh! GRRR! RAGE! Do they think women are so stupid that we don’t know how to ask for advice about reproduction? FFS!

  19. LS Says:

    This strikes me as a pretty gender neutral comment, mixed with the fact that as a woman there is a finite time you have available to have children. I could just as easily see a doctor saying the same thing to a male patient (if, ya know, we got pap smears >.>)

    Some people view raising children as an essential part of adulthood, regardless of gender.

  20. Dude Says:

    Wow. The creepiest part is that he said the word ‘eggies’ WHILE performing the test. I think if I were in your place, I would be unable to eat for about a week.

  21. Amanda Says:

    This makes me SOOO thankful for my awesome (female) gynecologist. I used to go to a male doctor, who would ask me how I’m doing in my classes while he did the pelvic exam (which is just…awkward, not sexist, but strange). My new doctor is awesome and I can tell she is not judgmental or sexist in the least, and is very frank and open which makes it so easy to ask questions. GYN/OBGYN’s should be trained to approach these subjects in a more tactful way. If your patients feel respected and not looked down upon, they will be more open with you and you can provide better treatment.

  22. Medical Student Says:

    To all those people who have said that he is just stating facts – did you actually read what he said?

    ‘Look, girlie, professional success is not all there is. Go have some kids now while your eggies are there’

    This is unacceptable!! You do not speak to anyone like this, and certainly not your patients!!

    This is rude, patronising and entirely unprofessional. I’m sorry you were treated this way.

  23. Zee Says:

    I’m 23 and I told my doctor I wanted to get sterilized, but I knew I’d have to wait another decade before I could find a doctor willing to do that to me. She said, “Do you really not want children that bad?” I just deadpanned “I would smother them in their sleep.” She just looked at me like oh o_o and said “Yeah probably no kids for you then.” XD My doctor is awesome.

  24. Elly Says:

    For all of you quoting how Downs is more common in eggs after 35 years old, I think we should remember than the mans sperm also ages and increases the risks of diseases being passed on too, so it’s not just the flipping eggs!

    • CH Says:

      Thank you! A fairly even amount of birth defects come from sperm and eggs, why would someone think that as a man ages nothing at all happens to his sperm?

  25. Maria Says:

    I agree that he was completely out of order. I would have complained. I do that now. Being blond, 37, mother of two and doing a PhD. I complain about them and switch docs. It’s simply not something I have the stomach for any more to eat it down and walk away.

    On the topic of women waiting to long because they believe they can have children later. I’m afraid it is true and I have met them. I had my two young children in my early thirties, I was doing my undergrad in Computer Science. Trust me people they come out and tell you. They (women) say: “I really shouldn’t be having children while at Uni! I should wait! Like they are doing until I have established my career!” I tell them I have a stay at home father. They simply do not believe it. I tell them the older they get the higher at risk they are of not even conceiving. They say they are always reading in the tabloids about women in their 40s or 50s having children. I ask them why that makes the tabloids in the first instance. That is really the only time they stop and think about what they are saying “at” me. The conversation has never progressed beyond that point.

    I’m now 37 as I’ve said before, when I was in my twenties I did not want children and then I suddenly did. I most certainly do not regret having them, but I would not want to be pregnant today.

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