IBS and the Gynecologist: An Unfortunate Combination
So, I have a confession to make. At 32 years old, I had never gone to the gynecologist - until recently.
Aside from the fact that I am not comfortable with a stranger looking at my "hoo-ha," the pain always scared me. I feared that awkward feeling of something foreign being inserted inside me all while being terrified that the events will trigger my IBS.
Let me paint you a little picture
Okay, here's the warning label: If you don't want to hear about female genitalia... move on! There are at least 3 billion of us out here.
In case you weren't aware, much like your vagina and anus, your cervix and rectum are right next to each other. Yup, right up close and personal. I know, shocking. Basically, what one part of you feels, the other does too (to an extent, of course). So, when something foreign is placed inside your cervix, at a rather uncomfortable diameter (especially if you've never given birth vaginally) it can cause some serious discomfort next door.
Have you ever heard of that medieval torture device, the Pear of Anguish? Google it. That's kind of what it feels like.
Pain, IBS, and the gyno, oh my!
Okay, now that you have a visual of the situation, let me get to the heart of this conversation: pain.
This article is not meant to scare women or those with female genitalia from going to the gynecologist; quite the opposite. This article is meant to simply say, if you're worried, scared, or weary, you're not alone. Besides, I'm only talking about those with female genitalia and IBS.
Pain, pain, go away
As I confessed earlier, for 32 years I avoided the gynecologist. But, just recently, I broke that stride and finally went. And, it wasn't as bad as I feared (I was lucky to get a wonderful nurse practitioner at my family doctor).
Ultimately, I found myself most worried about the discomfort I felt beside my cervix. You guessed it, the pain and strange sensation I was feeling were almost more prevalent in my rectum. On top of that, my IBS-D symptoms were busy that day, so naturally, I was a little worried.
Spoiler alert! I didn't end up relieving myself all over the nice nurse. But, I did feel awfully uncomfortable the entire time. I clenched, I tweaked, I used my Jedi mind tricks. I did my very best to keep my insides inside. And, I succeeded. Whether the fear was simply in my head or a very real possibility (I'd love to hear your stories), I overcame it.
After my gyno visit
Aside from some discomfort in my cervix, I had few side effects from my visit with the gynecologist. Basically, I endured a slight flare-up in my IBS-D which may or may not have been connected to my cervix being pried open.
Additionally, the experience got me thinking about endometriosis and IBS. Specifically, how closely related the 2 disorders can be. After all, as you learned from our little anatomy lesson, the cervix is directly located by the rectum and small intestine. So, if you take anything from this experience, perhaps it is that talking to your gynecologist about IBS and endometriosis wouldn't be a terrible idea.
So, what's the point of all this?
No, this article doesn't have a massive "ah-ha" moment in the end. There isn't a long, drawn-out, dramatic story that peaks with an of self-awareness that ends with me crying happy tears.
The point, my cheeky friend, is that if you're worried about this experience, you're not alone. If you've waited more than 30 years to have your "hoo-ha" peered into, I feel you. And, if you wondered how a foreign object will feel being inserted into your cervix while you hold back the contents of your rectum, well, now you know. Knowledge is power, people.
Do you feel an increase in body heat after a flare-up?