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Grooming for the Gyno? Not Necessary

December 15, 2007

There’s a kind of hilarious 200+ comment thread over at Jezebel on whether you should shave your legs and bush prior to your annual exam. Apparently some folks think their healthcare provider might be offended and gossip about them if they don’t. If your provider does that, you need to switch, pronto, because that is just unprofessional and wrong. Others seem to think it’s some kind of “courtesy” to shave or wax prior to the exam. There was a thread at some blog recently (sorry, can’t remember which one), and the providers there all said they really didn’t care. The Midlife Midwife says the same thing. Honestly, I can’t see why they would care. I worry more about my feet stinking.

A few providers (well, they claim to be) turned up in the thread, and also asserted that it matters not one whit to them:

“As a nurse, I can honestly tell all of you that when you’re a healthcare professional you become ‘ungrossoutable’. I can guarantee you that your leg hair and pubes mean nothing to your dr. and that they probably don’t even notice.”

“I am an OB/GYN. Trust me on this one. I don’t give a rat’s @$$ if patients shave or not. It does not make my job ‘easier’ in any way either if there is no pubic hair. We used to discuss this in my (mostly) all female residency among ourselves. Why are so many women sporting Brazilians, ‘The Hitler’, and otherwise denuded vulvas? What is up with that?”

“I’m a medical doctor, though not an OB/GYN, and I can’t get over how many otherwise intelligent women think it’s necessary to shave or wax some or all of their labia so that the doc can ‘get a better look’. What the f!#k? Shave or wax because you want to. Don’t do it for the doc’s sake, because it doesn’t assist us at all. Thank you and have a nice day.”

“I work at a reproductive health clinic- our clients will do all sorts of things to ‘look good’ down there before a visit (including glitter!). But honestly, it doesn’t impress us much. If you want to be nice to your gyno:
1. make sure your feet don’t reek.
2. tidying up is enough. you don’t need to get a sphinx to get a pap.
3. don’t have sex 24hrs before your visit. there’s nothing like seeing sperm on a pap slide!”

Glitter? Seriously? Look, do whatever you want to your vulva, but it’s not necessary to do so to get your pap. Recent showering is good enough. And, no, you can’t shave your “vagina.”

38 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2007 1:42 pm

    When I went through a shaving phase, I was always embarrassed when changing in a locker room or at the doctor’s. Being naked in those situations never bothered me, but pubeless seems too naked.

  2. December 15, 2007 3:22 pm

    I don’t think they notice considering most of them see so many patients per hour. Too many to remember.

  3. December 15, 2007 5:30 pm

    I was always a little skeeved, to be honest, when women shaved excessively and/or wore thongs to visits at the birth center in which they knew they would be getting some sort of vaginal check or procedure. It is not a sexual experience, so the grooming beyond hygienic grooming always weirded me out. I always thought “Is that for ME?” *shudder*

  4. December 15, 2007 10:37 pm

    I always make a point to wear nice socks.

  5. December 16, 2007 7:59 am

    This made me smile.. People are naturally sensitive about their appearance but I’m sure these medical workers have seen it all a thousand times. I’m sure it would take an awful lot to actually shock them 🙂 Great post. And Shauna — yes, nice socks are important! 🙂

  6. December 16, 2007 9:09 am

    Shauna, I at least make sure mine don’t have holes in them! 🙂 I think it’s because those are the only real clothes my provider ever sees me in – I’m already in the ridiculous paper gown by the time she comes in. That’s something I’ve been thinking about, actually – although I love my provider and am not embarrassed by the exam, I feel like it would be a little more “dignified” as a process if she initially greeted me before I’m naked.

  7. December 17, 2007 12:10 pm

    I once had a provider comment on my unshaved legs. I switched providers.

    I worry more now about the stinky feet too.

  8. December 17, 2007 12:49 pm

    Clean feet are so so important! Clean socks, equally important. Shaved vaginal area not important. Warning the provider about a clitoral ring-would be nice a head of time, otherwise be prepared for some wise-cracking bling comments.

  9. December 17, 2007 12:53 pm

    Birdword, good advice! 🙂

  10. December 17, 2007 2:32 pm

    And here I though the glitter story was an urban legend!

  11. December 17, 2007 2:46 pm

    OMG… I’m rolling on the floor. My coworker one office over just asked, “What are you doing?” Laughing. Just laughing. That’s all. And although it’s not necessary, I must shave my legs.

  12. December 17, 2007 3:43 pm

    Kathy T, you might as well put some glitter on ’em while you’re at it! 🙂

  13. December 17, 2007 5:55 pm

    I thought I was the only one who worried about the feet thing! I always make it a point to wear fun socks.

    I don’t know why, but for me I would feel more vulnerable if I didn’t keep my feet covered. I know it’s very victorian of me in a backward way.

    I don’t care that they’re looking at my vulva, but I don’t want them to see my naked feet.

  14. December 17, 2007 6:18 pm

    Kat, I think you’ve just inspired me to wear the toe socks next time.

  15. December 17, 2007 6:38 pm


    I wonder if this is the healthcare equivalent of cleaning house before the housekeeper arrives?

    Thanks for the laugh. It never occurred to me to do this, although as I have a foot fetish, I must confess to making sure my pedicure is fresh, or else I’m wearing socks. Something about those toes waving in the air.

  16. December 18, 2007 1:38 pm

    I swear this story is true.

    My wife goes in for her yearly. She’s in the stirrups. As her doctor is about to begin the exam…

    Dr: My, that is one of the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen! That is just beautiful!
    The Missus is freaked out, but at the same time, can’t help but feel a little pride, I mean he does see a lot of them.
    Dr: Nurse! Come over here and look at this. This is really something.
    The nurse walks over to him.
    Dr: Look at that navel ring! It has a diamond! Isn’t that the prettiest one you’re ever seen?

  17. December 18, 2007 2:00 pm

    Ex, that is hilarious.

  18. December 21, 2007 1:31 am

    A bit late to the party, but I must say, in my experience, “don’t care” is spot on.

  19. Charlie permalink
    February 5, 2008 11:59 pm

    I feel more ashamed that my feet were exposed! I am definitely wearing socks.

  20. lupe permalink
    August 25, 2008 8:28 pm

    I wear pretty socks, too. Can’t stand the thought of naked toes in his face. Usually let my pubis grow out a bit before seeing gyno. Don’t want to appear too bare.

  21. Sarah permalink
    October 4, 2008 5:57 pm

    I always trim up before i go to the gyno.. i know that there use to this kinda stuff…but i don’t want to be remembered as the hairy woman

  22. Susanna permalink
    October 5, 2008 5:06 am

    It’s interesting how this part of Arab culture has made it over to the West. Personally, I don’t see the point. Natural is beautiful.

  23. Gina permalink
    November 12, 2008 9:18 am

    My first exam I was completely un-prepared. Last minute rush sort of thing. I ended up wearing only my teva sandals and my scooby doo watch!!

    • hehe... permalink
      June 9, 2009 2:44 pm

      Nothing but tevas on huh? Funny, my husband would love you!

  24. Lauren Jane permalink
    February 11, 2009 7:22 pm

    Hi everyone. I am a little self conscious. About the whole pap smear, paper gown thing. I have never been to gyno and I don’t “groom” down there and the first time I am getting examined is at the military exam! HELP! (I think I am just nervous about someone probing around down there) – (SHOULD I SHAVE, at all)

    • lmao permalink
      April 30, 2009 5:20 pm

      are you attracted to your gyno? Otherwise who cares what they think…unless youa re trying to get them to notice!

  25. Valerie permalink
    March 19, 2009 11:07 pm

    I am going to the gyno for the first time in a few days too! I am nervous and will probably shave just a little so I don’t feel like a hairy woman. I generally shave regularly anyway, so it would feel weird for me not to…hope thats ok!

  26. July 5, 2009 9:58 am

    I would think making sure your vulva and butt didn’t reek would be more important then your feet. And making sure you wiped well if you made a bowel movement prior to exam. I also try to increase my water intake a week or so prior because the more water you drink, the less your urine stinks, and therefore the less your vulva stinks if you have to go before your exam.

  27. Nikki permalink
    July 31, 2009 3:31 pm

    I know “don’t care” is the overall sentiment, but what about if you have some tings going on down there? Isn’t it helpful to the provider if you at least trim a bit to get a better look?

    Great tips about socks, drinking more water, etc!

  28. Emily permalink
    March 20, 2010 10:52 pm

    I haven’t been there in years..And I know I should go but am just too afraid and always ended up crying and hypervenalating. My husband said he’d go with me, but I’m still draging my feet. I am also afraid of them seeing no hair, which I have always been use to all these years. I just don’t want them to think I shaved for them!

    • Alicia permalink
      March 22, 2010 1:29 am

      I’ve never been and that’s strictly out of the same type of worry, but maybe you should let it grow out a little, trim it before hand so you know it looks neat, and the thought of it being for them never crosses their mind.

  29. March 24, 2011 9:29 pm

    I thought I was the only one who worried about the feet thing! I always make it a point to wear fun socks.

    I don’t know why, but for me I would feel more vulnerable if I didn’t keep my feet covered. I know it’s very victorian of me in a backward way.

    I don’t care that they’re looking at my vulva, but I don’t want them to see my naked feet.

  30. Hannah permalink
    April 28, 2012 5:23 pm

    Waaaaay late on this, I know. However, I am going to my first gyno appointment in a few weeks. I’m pretty much the stereotypical hippie, granola chick. I don’t shave my pubic hair, I rarely shave my legs, and shoes are almost always a no-no. And when they are required, I tend to go the flip-flop route…am I going to look like “that girl” in stirrups barefoot? It personally doesn’t bother me, but…is it horribly improper?

  31. Ashley permalink
    August 23, 2012 8:30 pm

    Yeah, I worry more about the opposite problem, I always shave it all, even when I don’t have a boyfriend, I just find it easier to just shave everything then trim or shave the bikini line etc, and I like the cleanliness of it (in an OCD sort of way lol) and worry about getting an exam in case the doctor thinks its weird that I shave or think I did it for them. All the reassurance that you do NOT need to shave is making me more nervous that they’ll think it’s weird.

  32. steve permalink
    November 16, 2012 3:32 pm

    It’s occurred to me, reading the comments here, quite how weird my now ex-wife was. Two experiences…one a vaginal ultrasound to check her ovaries delivered by a male doctor at a hospital clinic. Afterwards, my wife said this strange comment ‘Do you think he was pleased to have a fit,sexy woman to do? Do you think it made his day?’…..I found that really odd.Second was when she had to go for an examination at hospital with a male gyno unknown to her other than by his name on the hospital letter. The night before she spent ages creaming off her pubic hair into a tidy, neat little V shape saying (with a little giggle) ‘Well we want him to be able to see what he’s doing don’t we?’ Not that she ever let her pubic hair grow long anyway. I was upset that she had prepared so much for this stranger, when for me it was….well actually, it was never for me. When she trimmed herself, it was for her benefit actually. Reading your comments here has made me realise just how not-into-me she really was!


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