My ER Doctor Had Clearly Never Seen A Vagina, Dropped The Speculum, And Asked For Directions

bad gyno

Forgive me—this is a long story, and primarily concerned with my right ovary.

As a sophomore in college in the spring of 2008, I woke my boyfriend up by punching him in the left shoulder and crying hysterically. Out of nowhere, I had been overcome by a stabbing, throbbing pain in my lower abdomen. Jordan calmly walked across the street to our friends’ house and asked to borrow their car. When he came back from across the street, he suddenly looked stricken and panicked. I had turned the light on to try to find my shoes, and he could now see me doubled over trying to locate a moccasin. Later he told me how pale I had looked–he could see every vein in my face. “You didn’t look particularly human,” he later said. No man has ever made me feel so beautiful.

After the requisite paperwork, a kind nurse named Ellen ushered me into a cubicle with a shower curtain surrounding it and helped me onto a hospital bed with a folded gown on it, which I soon discovered was essentially a paper sack lined with a Hefty trash bag. I insisted on keeping my bra and underwear on, and also that Jordan hold my hand awkwardly through the bed railing.

We stayed in silence, me fussing with my plastic wrap dress and Jordan trying to ignore that his wrist was twisted inhumanly, until the shower curtain was ripped back to reveal my new arch nemesis: Dr. Rick.

“Hey, I’m Dr. Rick!” he yelled. He had a carabineer with keys and Oakley sunglasses attached to his pocket. He bounced more than walked and shook my hand unconvincingly. He tried to initiate that bro handshake-hug scenario with Jordan, completely catching him off-guard. Do remember that Jordan’s left wrist was at this moment threaded through the metal bars holding my hand, so the bro hug became Dr. Rick hugging Jordan, who slumped towards him.

“So I hear we’re having some abdominal pain.”
“It’s not a stomach pain,” I said, pointing to below my belly button on the right side. “Is there, by any chance, a female doctor available?”
“Nope! It’s just me tonight. Well, let’s check out your stomach and see if that’s not causing it.”

He prodded at my stomach through my gown and asked if I’ve been particularly stressed with school, and, you know, everything. Friends, drama, boys. I shook my head and gripped Jordan’s hand as Dr. Rick jabbed his fingers below my navel. I shrieked wildly, while he dumbly asked “And does that hurt?”

“Alright, I’m going to need to get in there and do a pelvic.” A pelvic exam, for those readers who have never had the pleasure, is the main thrust of the regular gynecological check up. I will summarize by saying that it’s sort of like stuffing a chicken to check for cervical cancer. Dr. Rick started to crack his knuckles and stretch out his shoulders–the exact image of a roided-up asshole at my 24 Hour Fitness.

You can reach this post's author, Julia Sonenshein, on twitter.
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    • Hana Graham


    • Maria Guido

      This is one of the funniest (also disturbing) things I have ever read. AMAZING.

    • Eve Vawter

      I woke up my house laughing so hard this morning after editing this

    • She

      Ugh. My mom said that when she was in the hospital delivering my brother, a nurse-in-training who was supposed to be feeling up inside her v-area put her finger up my mom’s butt hole. My mom said with gritted teeth, “That’s the wrong hole” while the nurse-in-training argued that No, it was not. Nice. Here’s my semi-recent gyno appt story:

      • Eve Vawter


      • GPMeg

        The shocker!

      • Benwhoski

        I keep thinking that down the road, there will be some newcomer to the site who will have no idea why everyone here gets extra silly anytime someone mentions cilantro.

        It will be glorious.

      • Jayden Buehler

        it just happened lol… Apparently the mommyish trending reaction is to throw sensibility out the window… My friends do that as soon as they meet me though, so eh…

      • allisonjayne

        Oh my god. That is horrifying.

      • Rose D.

        I have a bunch of very important visitors at work today, and now I am sitting here shaking, trying not to cry laughing. Thank you.

      • Maria Guido

        Oh. My. God.

      • Sandy

        That. Is. Horrifying. A) as another lady, she should be somewhat more familiar with the setup and B) since she was insisting that it was the right hole, she probably did not wash or change gloves before putting her finger in the correct hole and transferred bacteria to where it’s not supposed to be. Especially when you’re trying to deliver a healthy baby through that portal.

      • Sara

        How does that even happen? Did the nurse just like the 50/50 odds of getting the right hole?

      • Aimee Beff

        Did your mom poop on her? I hope she pooped on her.

    • allisonjayne

      This reminds me of one of my favourite not-quite-jokes:

      What do you call a doctor who graduates at the bottom of their class?


    • CMJ

      Loved this!

      I once waited for an hour and a half in my gyno’s office for my yearly and when I finally got back there…the NP (I had an appointment with the doctor and they didn’t even tell me the NP was seeing me) COULD’T FIND MY CERVIX. I am not even kidding. She spent 20 minutes with a speculum just digging around….hemming and hawing. And then, THEN she had to go get a bigger speculum. I thought, jesus is my cervix massive? When she came back in and finally found what she was looking for she actually kind of blamed me: “Oh, there it is, you have a slightly diagonal (this is not the term she used) cervix.” WTF?

      I was so scarred the next time I went to the gyno (I had moved so a different doctor) I started rambling about my inverted cervix and that she might have a hard time….and she was already done. 3 minutes.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Is there anything scarier than hearing “I have to go get the bigger speculum”?

      • CMJ

        I think I was more mortified than when she was digging around in there for 20 minutes.

      • Eve Vawter

        Your vagina is filled with gold. PS: all of us at the offices are discussing you

      • CMJ

        And my fat cervix?

      • Eve Vawter

        That too. text meeeeeee

      • Véronique Houde

        I’m surprised she didn’t find a gold watch in there while she was snooping around…!

      • jane

        Well, we have learned from mommyish and co. all the amazing things you can keep in your vagina.

      • Jallun-Keatres

        Haha during my 38 week checkup my midwife had a hard time getting to my cervix (who knew- sometimes the baby’s head bulges out in front of it) and dug around for a while. Then, still wrist deep in my vag, she’s like “hey! your socks match!”* I love her.

        *I often wear the footie socks and never bother trying to find a matching pair since they get lost in my messy room. This day I was wearing a pair of real socks… lol

    • GPMeg

      Oh. My. God. This is horrifying but I cannot stop laughing — it’s that kind of tragedy. Also, you wrote it perfectly! This is DEFINITELY short story material. Thank goodness it wasn’t something more, who knows what Dr. Rick (which, no lies, I read in the Dr. Nick voice — the character from The Simpsons? “Hi everybody!” “Hi, Dr. Rick!” “Did you know that flammable and inflammable mean the same thing?”) would have done if he’d had to perform more than a half assed pelvic!

      • Eve Vawter
      • GPMeg

        Eve, we were meant to be.

        That sounds creepier than I meant it…

      • jane

        I did the exact same thing.

      • DadandBuried

        Dr. Nick = MY EXACT THOUGHT

      • Frances Locke

        I read it in Dr. Ric’s voice too!!!! Great minds, and all.

      • Kathleen O’Malley

        Heh, I thought of Dr. Nick too! In fact, “Dr. Rick” could *be* Dr. Nick! Anyway, this is the funniest story I’ve read for a long time! SO disturbing, but funny!

    • CMJ

      Does anyone else picture Kramer when thinking about Dr. Rick?

      • Julia Sonenshein

        100% ACCURATE. He would just bust down doors. No door could hold Dr. Rick back.

    • G.E. Phillips

      You had Dr. Dudebro. Egads.
      This was hilarious! Also, that Jordan sounds like a keeper! (Picture me saying that to you like I’m your grandma.)

      • allisonjayne

        Ooooh let’s all share our best/most uncomfortable pelvic exam stories! Mine is when my hippie friends told me to put garlic in my ladyparts to help me pass the Group B Strep test when I was pregnant. Cue 3 days later, 8.5 months hugely pregnant me on a table with my (thankfully wonderful) family doctor elbow-deep inside me trying to retrieve said garlic.

      • pixie

        I haven’t had anything too embarrassing, but my doctor always tells me to relax when she’s showing that spreading thing in me. She’s a sweet little lady, but relaxing is the last thing I’m able to do when she’s telling me to while trying to shove something up my vagina.

      • Cori

        My embarassing moment is reoccuring. I giggle when I’m uncomfortable & nervous. It’s pretty mortifying when your doctor repeatedly asks you to keep still, the things that must be going through their heads.. Now I warn them in advance, we both laugh and it helps me feel less nervous.

      • Frances Locke

        I shared this above, but will repeat for your enjoyment (read: schadenfreude).

        When I was the same age, I was preggo with my oldest (because we start em’ young here in Queens, KIDDING) and I had to go to the ER for bleeding (which was scary as hell to my partner and I, being pregnant and all of 19-years-old). and the ER doctor pulled me aside, mid-exam, and said “Are you sure you want to go through with this pregnancy at 19. Shouldn’t you at least be married?” I filed a complaint so fast MY head swam, and he was reprimanded and given sensitivity training. Sounds like “Doctor” Rick could’ve used some, too.

      • SusannahJoy

        Good for you! I think a lot of crappy medical “professionals” get away with it because most people don’t bother to file the complaint.

      • Kathleen O’Malley

        I think you just ruined my favorite seasoning :(

      • NotTakenNotAvailable

        It wasn’t cilantro?!

      • Bric-a-Brac

        My first exam at the age of like 15 the doctor exclaims “You have such healthy mucus!”


      • Eve Vawter

        WHAT? I have never heard of this. ever. If you don;t write me something about shoving garlic up your hoo-haw I may cry

      • tSubh Dearg

        My worst was when I went in for a colposcopy and to get abnormal cells removed from my cervix. The lovely lady doctor (and she was very sweet) insisted on calling me “m’lady” the entire time and then managed to burn my leg with the cauterising thing on her way out. This was after she called for a bigger speculum and I almost fainted/puked from the local anesthetic.

      • hbombdiggity

        My gynecologist from college looked and sounded exactly like my roommate’s mother. This wasn’t totally awkward except for the fact that during every pelvic exam, I would start thinking, “so and so’s mom has her arm in my vagina,” “so and so’s mom is swabbing my hoo-ha”, (my personal favorite) “so and so’s mom is feeling me up right now” (during the breast exam). Without fail, I would always start snickering or giggling. It had to be super awkward for the poor doctor.

        For the record, it wasn’t just me. I had friends that would use the doctor as well on my recommendation and they would always come to me afterwards and say, “She DOES look like so and so’s mom!”

      • Kay_Sue

        During my first labor, my OB brought in all of her current interns. They had a small lecture at the business end of my hospital bed. Meanwhile, my epidural had not been administered and I had more homicidal thoughts towards those strangers than I have ever had before.

        My vagina is not a lecture hall, people.

      • Jayden Buehler

        wow… some people in the medical profession mustn’t really give a crap about babies… I mean come ON! the poor thing is going from a nice, comfortable place to suddenly being bombarded with smells, sounds and light.

      • Litterboxjen

        I’ve had two separate doctors on completely separate occasions tell me I have a lovely/beautiful cervix. I put that shit on my resume under “special skills.”

        Also my first-ever pelvic was by a judgey old doctor who asked me if I knew “about the muscle inside” and that if I was tensed up, this was going to hurt. Cue not-so-gentle fingers in 16-year old lady parts following that pronouncement. :/

        And my most recent pelvic had them looking at the different speculums and discuss which size to use.

        “You had a child, right? (then to the nurse) So, large?”

        “Yes, but she was cut out!!”

        “Okay, medium then.”

      • G.E. Phillips

        This is awesome. Yes, I typically find myself bragging about my “perfect specimen vagina” on a first date, in between my second and third martinis.

      • Em

        Mine was my first pelvic after losing my virginity. My doctor was the guy who delivered me, so he had been around my whole life (duh) and basically told me that my boyfriend needed to practice the art of foreplay a bit better because it was irritating my vaj. AWKWARD.

    • Vagina Owner

      Amazing. I love when you called him Rick and his balls retreated into his body.

      • Eve Vawter

        Your user name is making everyone at the Mommyish Offices ™ all wanna be your BFF

      • Frances Locke

        I wasn’t even with you today, but I call DIBS. DIBS, I say!

      • Jayden Buehler

        got a bit cold then hey? xD

    • Bethany Ramos

      Julia… Everything about this is just amazing, except for the major vaginal embarrassment, but that’s besides the point. You win! Hahahah

    • candyvines

      You guys have been on fire lately, thanks for all the laughs! Julia, this sounds like such a difficult experience, but it’s great that you can look back at it in such a humorous way.

    • Jayess

      Ellen needs a raise.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Mushroom cloud… o good god, I think I just peed myself laughing….

      • Julia Sonenshein

        I know! He kills me.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        I do believe he is quite the legend!

    • Aimee Beff

      I’ll just leave this here.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        I’m going to print this out!

    • ted3553

      absolutely horrifying and hilarious. I nearly died at picturing my husband’s reaction if a doctor asked if he wanted to insert the ultrasound.

    • Carrie Murphy

      I also recently had to have a pelvic exam in the ER. While the doctor was MUCH nicer than Dr. Rick, it was still scary and weird as hell. And I was told I had an STI after I’d been monogamous for 4 and a half years. Um? Also, so glad Jordan can always find your vagina…no chance of cilantro!

      • AP

        I had a pelvic exam from a gynecologist who tried to convince me that my now-husband was going to cheat on me and dump me, and that I was in grave danger of contracting STIs. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her no, and talked to me in a baby voice.

        Turned out, the only relationship in grave danger that day was the one involving her as my doctor. Never went back there.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Surprise cilantro would be a total deal breaker!

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I had a similar experience. The similarity ends at “went to the ER for a pelvic exam.”
      I was there because I was sure I was losing my pregnancy but it was after hours at the OBGYN and I wanted to know RIGHT THEN if my cervix was bleeding (wtf) and I wanted an ultrasound. That’s how I found out I’d lost my 2nd pregnancy in a row. The guy that did the exam (why is it always a guy??) was super nice though and the gal that did the u/s let me stick the probe up there myself. They had me smiling so it wasn’t as bad of an experience as it could have been.

    • aCongaLine

      Oh my God, I’m mortified on your behalf. That asshole Dr. should have stopped when you asked for a female doc. I’m glad everything is okay.

      Also, your recount was both terrifying and hilarious- thanks for sharing :)

    • Sara

      While getting me ready for my second knee surgery the nurse having administered the drugs to make me loopy/not remember anything thought I ha gone to sleep and went to remove my underwear and apparently I sat up looked her dead in the eye and said, “You’ll never get into my panties if you don’t love Jesus.” And then went back to sleep.

      • Bunny Lucia

        Why was she taking off your underwear?!

      • Karen Milton

        It’s not sterile and they need to keep the OR as free from outside sources of infection as they can. It’s generally standard procedure during surgery. Fifteen-year-old me was not thrilled to learn that particular fact when I was getting my wisdom teeth out, let me tell you.

      • Sara

        They took yours off for wisdom teeth!? Nope, nope, nope! I remained fully clothed for that!

      • Karen Milton

        The city where I live has both a med school and a dental school and all the hospitals are teaching hospitals. I had six wisdom teeth, which apparently makes me an interesting learning case, so they did my surgery in the OR that has observation. I was asked if it was okay if some students observed my genetic throwback facial situation, but when I said yes I didn’t understand that they meant ALL the students. I pictured, like, two or three extra people. Nope. Between the observation room and the students stuffed into the actual OR I have no idea how many students saw my all-together. Mortification.

      • Sara

        Oh I feel your pain then! I have really screwed up hips. Like, the Moby Dick of screwed up hips on a younger person. But they gave me a list of people that we’re going to be there and I had complete veto power over who all was in there

      • Sara

        I was having a knee/hip surgery and had had an issue with my first one regarding my underwear and a nurse so my file had been marked as, “unruly without underwear” or something to that effect so they ffigured it was easier to knock my angry fifteen year old ass out

      • Litterboxjen

        I’m sorry, but “unruly without underwear” is the greatest note to have in your medical chart ever.

      • Sara

        After my “Jesus” surgery it was amended to “awesome without underwear” because my nurses were great

      • Karen Milton

        UNRULY. Best ever.

    • jendra_berri

      Most men won’t stop and ask for directions when driving, but your doctor had to stop and ask for directions to your vagina when he was staring down the barrel.

    • lpag

      Youshould totally send this to My OB Said What?!

      • Tee

        Exactly what I was thinking!

    • MsBorgia

      Oh my god. I’m horrified, but this is the funniest thing I’ve read in a loooong time. PLEASE tell me this is 100% true (or don’t, now I’m kinda scared.)

      • Julia Sonenshein

        I fact checked with Jordan! It’s as we both remember it, so I’m thinking it’s pretty damn close.

    • Andy

      Ok, sorry you had to go through this, but I’m cracking up. Hey, if we can’t laugh when incompetent medical staff are examining our lady parts, when can we?

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Thanks! It was a bizarre experience in that I knew it was horrible while it was happening, but I didn’t have time to feel upset because it was so funny.

    • G.E. Phillips

      Can I also say that I JUST “got” the picture? I see what you did there.

      • Eve Vawter

        good job. I was waiting to see if people would hahahah. Julia worked hard on that!

    • Frances Locke

      Yup. My vag would have close up after this. Permanently. And probably become a black hole and destroyed the entire world. THANKS, DOC.

    • Frances Locke

      This was the funniest thing I’ve read in a long, long time. On a serious note, I hope you filed a complaint against this d-bag. When I was the same age, I was preggo with my oldest (because we start em’ young here in Queens, KIDDING) and I had to go to the ER for bleeding (which was scary as hell to my partner and I, being pregnant and all of 19-years-old). and the ER doctor pulled me aside, mid-exam, and said “Are you sure you want to go through with this pregnancy at 19. Shouldn’t you at least be married?” I filed a complaint so fast MY head swam, and he was reprimanded and given sensitivity training. Sounds like “Doctor” Rick could’ve used some, too.

    • Sara

      I’m just double checking here, but the speculum is the thing that Jaws of Life’s you vagina open so everything can be seen, right?

      • elle

        Yep that is what the speculum is.

      • Sara

        Thank you ma’am!

      • Kay_Sue

        This is how I will refer to the speculum at every lady doctor appointment going forward…this is awesome.

      • Sara

        I feel really stupid for having to ask! But I was afraid of the google lol

      • Kay_Sue

        Please don’t. You made me night with that, and definitely my next lady parts appointment. And there are things that it’s soooo much better to ask than Google, because you just don’t know at all what you will find! ;)

    • Mrsspring

      Luckily I’ve never had a doctor requiring directions to my vagina but I wish i had photos of my husbands face when he a) first saw the speculum b) the slow realization that it was meant to fit ‘up there’ and finally c) how his eyebrows kept moving higher up his forehead with every click of the speculum as my lady bits were being jacked open.

    • Sandy

      Julia, in the STFU Parents article, Natasha and I decided it would be hilarious if Dr. Rick Dudebro were to deliver a baby. I nominate you to write a screenplay in which this happens. I would very much like to see that movie.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Challenge accepted! Maybe we could call it No Direction Probe, and
        Dr. Rick Dudebro, MD can wander around the country trying to locate vaginas on America’s women. In the end he finds himself instead, and no vaginas. I’ll have a first draft by next week.

    • SamIam

      This reminds me of the experience I had with a female doctor. There’s a reason that she always works the walk in clinic. It’s because she doesn’t know SHIT. I have been in a monogamous relationship for 13 years, and she still said it was a STI. It wasn’t. It was fucking norovirus. Grr.

      • AP

        When we were in college, my husband went to Student Health Services with an awful stomachache. The doctor told him it was an ulcer, and to cure ulcers, he needed to relax.

        Turned out, it was appendicitis. Oops.

    • Colleen

      Tears from laughing!

    • Benwhoski

      Like many, I am sorry you had to deal with this situation and the incredibly unprofessional doctor, but I can’t help laughing at your delivery of the story.

      That said, after reading this and some of the other comments, I am really angry to find out that inserting the probe yourself for a transvaginal ultrasound is apparently an option. I had to have one a couple of years ago because my uterus was doing terrible things, and the tech who performed it was awful. I had explained before we started that I usually found gynecological exams painful, and so I was really anxious about having this done. She immediately insisted I was being a big baby, there was nothing at all unpleasant about these exams, yelled at me when I said “ow” a couple of times (I swear she was trying to turn the probe completely sideways in there) and reminded me that there were “much worse tests” I could be having.

      I can’t be sure that inserting it myself would have sucked less, but at least I’d have felt like my discomfort and nervousness was at least sympathized with.

      • moonie27

        Oh my god, my first or second OB-GYN (I’m a doctor slut; I’ll see anyone as long as they write me a ‘script for my bc) responded to my “ow” with a very scolding “It shouldn’t hurt that much.” And then she got frown-y-er because my immediate response was “Well, it does.”

        Seriously, though, I’m pretty small down there and at the time I was buying the special teenager tampons because regular ones wouldn’t fit! Of course it hurt!

      • Benwhoski

        I’d had doctors be confused by my difficulty with the exams before, but that tech was the first person who was ever mean to me about it. I have a serious problem when people are trying to tell me that I don’t know when my own parts hurt.

        My current gynecologist is really great about it, too, and was the first one out of three who thought to try using a smaller speculum which, although still unpleasant, made it bearable for me.

      • moonie27

        Yeah! One I saw (of course, they retired before my second appointment with them) immediately pulled out the smallest speculum they had once I said it was generally painful for me. Loved her!

    • Jessie

      This whole thing read like a creepy fanfiction or something in my head. Sweet baby geebus, I would never go back there again.

    • Gina Mann

      Jordan you da man!!!

    • Ddaisy

      Wow. I once got a tampon stuck in the middle of the night, waited in the ER for 7 hours (lost tampons are way at the bottom of the priority list), and then the doctor on duty was my sisters’ best friend’s dad. I thought that was an awkward and horrifying experience. I WAS WRONG. It was a cakewalk compared to your ordeal. I’m so sorry you went through this, but it does make me feel a lot better about mine :P (Also, this might make me a horrible person, but the whole time I was reading this, I was laughing almost as hard as I was gasping and cringing sympathetically.)

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Oh my god the tampon stuck up there thing is my nightmare!

      • Ddaisy

        Life lesson: do not jump off the high dive all afternoon while wearing a tampon, no matter how many 8-year olds dare you to. The pressure of hitting the water feet-first will have unpleasant effects.

      • moonie27

        I don’t mean to be insensitive but that’s hilarious!

    • Kay_Sue

      Julia, I don’t know whether to laugh hysterically at this or have a total breakdown that there are doctors out there that are so inept….

      • Julia Sonenshein

        My philosophy is to laugh and drink!

    • Sam Inoue

      I had the same thing happen when I was younger, but wow does this suck! It both hilarious and terrible at the same time. I would have kicked that “doctor” in the face.

    • moonie27

      Ug, I had an ovarian cyst burst once and it was misdiagnosed as appendicitis, and the nearest surgery center was an hour away from the ER and I ended up passing out as soon as they put me in the wheelchair to bring me into surgery. (They couldn’t give me any pain meds.)

      It was easily the most painful moment of my life! At least you got a great story out of it, though. :)

    • Psych Student

      I have a friend who went to the doctor for her annual exam and apparently the doctor wasn’t wearing his glasses and he tried to insert a finger into her urethra. She managed to squeak out “wrong hole!”. The doctor apologized and picked the right hole on the next try.

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    • Annie Erica

      This is ridiculous but it happens

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