I went to the OB/GYN (read: lady parts doctor) recently to have my IUD replaced - a painful (let’s be real: extremely painful), process that results in carefree birth control for three years. This semi-permanent Intrauterine Device seems to have reversed my (perhaps, in retrospect, incorrect) diagnosis of PCOS, which was declared during my first IUD’s insertion. It has also been a silent partner in a happy and healthy sex life that, when partnered with some shared and beloved pastimes as well as my winning personality, led to my recent marriage. A lot can happen in 3 years.
But enough singing the praises of the most effective and affordable birth control process on the market, I’m here to talk about my cervix.
When I was called back from the waiting room, a nurse and I walked to the room where my procedure would take place. The nurse weighed me in at a glorious 172.5 (check out this incredible post from Ginelle about body positivity), took my blood pressure as my thoughts turned to my grandmother, who recently passed at the age of 92 and whose effortlessly low blood pressure mine takes after, and handed me three capsules of ibuprofen and a heating pad.
‘This seems a little unnecessary,’ I thought at the time.
It was not.
But back to my lady parts!
When my OB/GYN entered the room, I sat, stark naked from the waist down with an oversized paper towel hopelessly wrapped around my lap in a vain attempt to cover my butt. What was the point? She would be poking and prodding around in my vagina with a front-row seat to my rump in just a moment. Regardless, I protected my derriere’s momentary modesty just the same. A second woman followed her: a midwife who would be learning how to remove and insert the tiny, flexible, and super-effective intrauterine device.
The two made small talk with me before outlining the risks of inserting the IUD and settling me down onto the procedure table, legs splayed in the stirrups and butt scooched down to the end of the table. I anticipated the next few minutes to be the same old awkward, Clockwork Orange-like experience when a complete stranger shoves way more than necessary into my twat, hands me a paper towel when it’s done and unceremoniously leaves the room. But no longer than they had inserted a - thankfully - warmer than room temperature speculum into my lady-cavern, they were remarking at how beautiful my cervix looked and how easy it was for them to find.
‘I’ve never heard anyone remark on the beauty of that part of my anatomy before,’ I thought to myself. And as soon as that thought left my mind, the OB/GYN was asking me if I wanted to see it.
My first reaction was to say no.
But then, in an instant, my mind snapped into reason. ‘When has anyone ever asked you to see what was happening during a pelvic exam or procedure? What is the chance you will have this same doctor again? When would there ever be another doctor or midwife who would think to offer me the chance to see inside of my own vagina?’
“Yes,” I answered with an intrigued tone.
Immediately, I started to wonder what looking at my cervix might actually entail. Would they bring out some high-tech imaging machine like an ultrasound? Did they have some kind of camera like in a colonoscopy? Would one of them whip out their phone and snap a cervical selfie?
Delighted, the OB/GYN crossed the room and returned with a hand mirror. Of course. Women have been peeking at their own vulvas using hand mirrors for ages. If you’ve never taken the time to appreciate your own, I highly recommend it.
She handed me the mirror and helped me sit up enough to peek down at the mirror and I was amazed at what I found. First, my vagina was remarkably short. For some reason, I expected it to be extremely long, but it wasn’t; it was only a few inches. It was cute, actually. And at the end of a fleshy corridor, sat a beautiful, perfectly centered, puckered cervix - the remarkably stalwart gatekeeper of my womb.
“Cool…” is the only thing I managed to utter.
The OB/GYN, clearly pleased at my openness towards and desire to better know my own body, continued to tell me about the Beautiful Cervix Project whose mission is to do the very same thing these two women allowed me to do: to empower women to know more about their own anatomy and to normalize cervical self-exam to promote respect, confidence, and health.
So, the next time you’re at the OB/GYN, see if they’ll let you have a peek at what they’re doing. Or, you could visit beautifulcervix.com and order your own cervix-peeping kit. You won’t be disappointed.
Oh! And if you’re considering birth control methods, I highly recommend an IUD, despite the incredibly uncomfortable nature of its insertion and removal process.
Guest Author: Lauren Koppelman
Lauren Koppelman is a communications and marketing specialist for an independent school in the Boston area. An avid content creator, she welcomes the chance to stretch her expository muscles - especially in the case of combining her sense of humor with advice to help humans be their best selves. You can follow her on Twitter, although she rarely tweets. #lurker