12:18 pm - 01/25/2011

lying to the gyno

So I changed insurance and went to a new  gyno for the first time today.  I'm 21 and I've never had a pap before, so I had every intention of getting one... until I got into the exam room.  I lied and said I'm not sexually active and never have been and refused the pap.  She did give me a breast exam and a sonogram but nothing down below.  I feel really guilty that I lied.  How bad was what I did?  Part of me wants to confess lying but I don't want her to cancel my prescription for bc.

*edit* I really just want to thank you all for your kind words and reassurance.  I feel much better about the situation than I did at the time of posting.
archangelbeth 25th-Jan-2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
In general, it's not so good to fib to doctors about stuff. However, if you felt that she'd try to shame you for being sexually active, or if you just didn't feel comfortable with the idea of her giving you a pap... On the whole, your mental health is more important.

It would be good to find someone you were comfortable enough with, to have a pap, but depending upon when you became sexually active, you may well have a few years for that -- and that's assuming that you got a high-risk strain of HSV that your body isn't clearing, which is an assumption indeed!

You may want to ask what the gyno's policy is on HBC and paps. Some doctors "hold hostage" the contraception, requiring a pap. While it's true that people using HBC often don't use condoms, and are thus at 0% protection vs. HPV (instead of 70% or so), which means paps are useful -- but they're only of side-relevancy to how HBC is affecting you, which is more in the blood pressure range, as I recall. (And manual exams, where the gyno inserts fingers and presses on the stomach to feel for bumps and lumps, are thought by many to be pretty much useless, except maybe to reassure the doctor that there's nothing Really Majorly Lumpy being overlooked there.) So you might want to consider at least finding if they will want to do a pap every time you're there, if they think you're sexually active, or if they'll go for the 2 year schedule, or what.

Anyway, I hope that you can find someone you're comfortable with, or that you become more comfortable with the gyno as time goes on. I do believe you're entitled to do your best to get paps only from people you're comfortable with.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
She wrote me the prescription still, and told me to come back in 6 months and consider an exam then. She was rather nice but I feel like she knew I was lying. Ty for your response, it makes me feel better about what I did.
birthingway 25th-Jan-2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
It's not "bad"; it's understandable.

The important thing to know about the PAP test is that right now it's the only way we have to detect cervical cancer (and precancerous changes that occur before) and some forms of HPV. So ultimately, you very likely will want to have one regularly (every 1-3 years in most cases) throughout your life.

But, you must feel comfortable with your care provider. If you didn't, perhaps try Planned Parenthood, or ask for a recommendation from your friends.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 05:37 pm (UTC)
I actually did get this doctor from my friend, I'm just so upset by the idea of the exam ]:
uberpiratewench 25th-Jan-2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
Just let her know next time. GYNs tend to deal with some pretty personal situations and I promise you every single one has been lied to for a million reasons from nervousness to embarrassment. If she responds by canceling your prescription or dropping you as a patient, she's not the best doctor. Really.

The truth, is, and I know you know this, your doctor is one of the last people you want to lie to. PAPs suck, but running the tiny risk of NOT catching an abnormality sucks worse. You're 21 and the odds of an abnormal PAP are low and the odds of it actually affecting your BC is even lower so, I wouldn't worry too much from a health standpoint. You will want to come clean about your sexual history, though - its SUPER important for your doctor to know this and than you get regular and proper screening. But, like I said, you wont be the first or the last to bend the truth to her on that count and you shouldn't face any repercussion except peace of mind and appropriate health care based on your true history.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
She seemed understanding but I have a feeling she knew I was lying. Idk if I'll ever be able to get the guts up to get one (the idea upsets me so much).

ty for taking the time to respond :)
myswtghst 25th-Jan-2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
The only advice I can really offer is to think about why you lied, so you can try to decide what to do next. If you felt like you just needed to warm up to the new doctor, maybe see if you can schedule an office visit just to talk - no exam. If you felt like you didn't like / trust the new doctor, or like you were being judged based on your answers, you may want to try to find a new doctor, one who you can trust. It took me a while to be completely honest with my gyno, especially since he's my Mom's doctor too, which I was paranoid about when I was younger, but now that I really trust him, it's fine.

You absolutely are not required to tell a doctor anything you don't want to, but it is important to be aware that it can affect your sexual / reproductive health, as it's easier to miss something you (the doctor) are not looking for. You also don't have to give details (the number of partners, for example) if you're not comfortable with it - simply saying you are sexually active is enough to let the doctor know that keeping an eye out for things that wouldn't come up if you aren't.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
I lied because I thought I was ready for the exam but when I got there the idea of one was too upsetting/overwhelming :/

ty for your response!

feeeny 25th-Jan-2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
if you're sexually active you need a pap smear. it's not that bad, and only takes a minute. it's time to be a woman about it.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
I know that you mean well but I don't think that your comment ("it's time to be a woman about it") was all that necessary or appropriate. I am no less of a woman because I have a fear of being examined.
atalanta0jess 25th-Jan-2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
It's not that bad for most people, that's true. But for some people, it can be really scary, uncomfortable, triggering etc. It's important not to minimize the fact that the exam is a different experience for everyone, and that while often it's not that bad, the OP's experience of being anxious about it is real and valid. I'm not sure that "woman up" is really helpful advice. Perhaps tips on how to deal with her anxiety, how to talk to the doctor, etc would be more helpful. The OP already expressed that she intended to get a pap, so I'm not sure how telling her that she needs one is particularly beneficial.
incarnated_joy 25th-Jan-2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this is a real helpful comment- not.

OP I'd just like to revalidate your opinion that this advice is not helpful nor in the least bit understanding or compassionate towards your personal anxieties. While it's true that pap smears are beneficial for your health, regardless of sexual activity, they are not mandatory. They are like any other medical procedure, you have the right to refuse them. Getting anxious and nervous and balking at the last moment does not make you any less of a woman, it makes you anxious and nervous and I understand that and hope you can learn to overcome your fears.
misspaigeb 25th-Jan-2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
The ACOG recommendations do not even suggest pap testing until someone is 21 regardless of sexual activity.

I'm glad it's not that bad *for you* but please be sensitive to people who do not feel that way.

Also, I didn't know that my womanhood depended on how willingly I submit myself to invasive screening that some people would argue isn't even all that useful. I don't think that kind of comment is AT ALL appropriate for VP.
atalanta0jess 25th-Jan-2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Aw, don't feel guilty. It's not "bad" that you lied to the doctor, except in the sense that it seems to be interfering with you getting the medical care that you desire. I would try (I know it's hard!) to focus my energy away from being guilty (because after all, you didn't hurt anyone, and you certainly have no obligation to be honest with a stranger!) and towards figuring out how to deal with the anxiety. I have definitely had experiences at the doctors and elsewhere when I *thought* I wanted to do whatever I was there for, but as soon as it was actually going to happen, my mind started racing. "How can I get out of this!?"

If it were me, I would sort of attack this on two fronts. Firstly, practice your self soothing. Deep breathing, visualizing the exam going well, positive self talk/pep talks, squeezing a stress ball, etc. Secondly, I would probably try to sort of trap myself into being honest. It sounds like your doctor is good, patient, and respectful. If I felt comfortable enough, I might write a letter to the doctor, and bring it with me to my next appointment. Something along the lines of "I am sexually active, and I think it would be a good idea for me to have a pap smear. However, I am very nervous about it! I was worried I would get too nervous to be honest with you about it, so I wrote this letter. Please help me with my nervousness, but also respect that I may not be able to complete a pap smear today. I would like to try, but I need to know that I am not trapped, and can stop at any time if it gets too anxiety producing."
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
I definitely want to do whats best, but I have an extreme anxiety and fear about it (as I said to archangelbeth, I hate so much as a hug from people, the idea of a pelvic exam just freaks me out). I will try to take your advice though. And tysm for being compassionate.
lilsongbird 25th-Jan-2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
It's not good for your long term health to lie to your doctor. If you're not comfortable... is it the doctor? I've met some that are amazingly good at putting you at ease. It can help a lot to be honest and say "I know I should get one, but I have very bad anxiety about it" to the doctor. They can probably help a lot by lightening the mood (I have literally had a doc skip into the room to keep the mood light), or if the fear is really bad giving you a small dose of an anti-anxiety med.

I will say- doctors expect when asking personal questions patients may not always be honest or forth coming- especially on a first visit. It can take time to build a good relationship with your doc so you feel comfortable discussing with them all your more embarrassing quesions. Most do understand this, so don't feel bad about lying. Just work on figuring out what can help you feel more comfortable :)
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
It definitely was the idea of the exam, not the doctor. She was ver nice (as was the nurse, she even complimented my nail polish lol). I do feel less guilty about lying thanks to you & everyone else :)
incarnated_joy 25th-Jan-2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
I was traumatised by my second exam, I was fine before then, never had any worries or issues, but after that second time the very idea makes me want to throw up, so I understand *offers hugs*

I'm still trying to talk myself round in to booking my now over due exam (I'm overdue by a year now) but I get so far as dialling the number and then hanging up. My doctor knows this of course, and reminds me gently every time I go in for something else (I just see my regular GP and nurse) but she never presses me, which helps a lot when it comes to calming me down and rationalising that really, it's a bit like going to the dentist. The sound of the drill might be unpleasant and it might be uncomfortable, but it's a good thing in the long term should I want to keep all my bits and pieces in working order in to my old age.

My advice would be to talk to your doctor who can hopefully then help you with your anxiety issues. Best of luck OP.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
Although I never imagined that most people did enjoy it, hearing personal stories is making me feel better about flaking. Hopefully we both will be able to get over our anxieties.
paraxeni 25th-Jan-2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Please don't feel bad. Regardless of what anyone else says, you have an absolute right to consent to what happens to your body.

In my country there is no such thing as an annual pap/internal/breast exam combo. Paps are 3 yearly after the age of 25, if you're sexually active. Manual exams happen in late-ish pregnancy, and that's about it if you have no reproductive issues. Breast exams aren't performed unless you find a lump. Our boobs aren't dropping off, our vaginas are doing just fine-ah, and all our reproductive disease detection and survival rates are comparable to those of the US. There's also no such thing as having to have a smear or a bimanual exam to get BC either.

Take your time, find out ways of lessening your anxiety around medical examinations, and try not to feel pressured into anything. This will be far more helpful than feeling guilty, or bad.

Have some virtual cake, as I know you're not keen on hugs! :)
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 07:26 pm (UTC)

Have some virtual cake, as I know you're not keen on hugs! :)

hahaha thank you... I hope it's cheesecake ;)
girlglowstoxic 25th-Jan-2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
I'm 23 and just had my first PAP last year around July. I was pretty insecure going in and she somehow sensed it and told me that she only checked for health. Which eased me a bit and gave me the little push I needed to get it done with.
I guess for a while I thought she was going to judge me on the way my vage looked lol which is a silly thought but I'm crazy like that.
As for the exam itself, it took about 2 minutes, or at least felt that way because she knew what to say to make me not feel so awkward and I'm sure yours would/will to when and if you decide to get one.
rojarabbits 25th-Jan-2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
This might sound uninformed, but I never knew it was so quick. Knowing it's only about 2 minutes makes me feel slightly better, and perhaps I can deal knowing it will be over fast. I really thought it was like a 10 minute ordeal.
mydocuments 25th-Jan-2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
Don't feel bad about lying -- one of the first things we're taught in medical school is that most of our patients are going to lie to us eventually. I promise that if your doctor is worth her salt, she's not judging you for lying and she's not going to hold it against you. It's really only an issue in that it prevents your doctor from giving you the care that you need. Don't feel bad about it, and don't let it keep you from seeking care in the future.

I've read upthread that you've got some issues about being touched. That can make what's already a fairly unpleasant experience that much worse, and that sucks. =( But, I think that a lot of other posters have given you a lot of great advice about how you can work around this or overcome it.

The next time you're at your doctor's, just tell her that you have some anxiety about the exam, and then you and her talk it out and come to an agreement about how you're going to proceed as a team. Don't be afraid to make your needs known and don't be afraid to ask questions. The only silly question is the one that goes unasked.

Best of luck for your future exams!!
oceanica 25th-Jan-2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
Reiterating what everyone's said here - don't feel bad about lying! If you've got discomfort issues, then you need to be able to handle them in a way that isn't just going to intensify the problem, and if that meant skipping out on an exam for the time being, then that's absolutely what you should have done.

I'd like to repeat some of the suggestions from upthread about having a talk-only appointment just to go over exactly what the exam would involve -- a talk-ONLY appointment would mean that afterward, rather than jumping right into it, you could go home and think about it and take some time to wrap your mind around the whole thing. I did something similar when I first started going to a doc - I'd been raised in a faith-healing/non-medical household, so I did not once see a doctor until after I turned 18. My first appointment, I was absolutely petrified -- and the very understanding doctor sat with me for nearly half an hour and just talked with me about exactly what she was going to do, what she was looking for, and why, and it did definitely help when it came time for the exam. You might find the same holds true for you :)
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