December 24, 2006

The last time I saw my gynaecologist she seemed bored. Not with me necessarily, but with vaginas in general. Who can blame her? How many conversations about birth control can a person take? I started seeing her at 13. I'm 38 now; I haven't had children, I'm still susceptible to PMS and agonising cramps. So, other than ageing, not all that much has actually changed.

There are many things about her I like. She's very clean and smells of soap. She has a gentle manner I appreciate. This means when she tells me to get a mammogram, I don't immediately panic and assume I have breast cancer.

But like any long-term relationship, she's not as attentive as she used to be. And there are things that get on my nerves. For instance, she's always wearing lipstick and high heels - where's the party? Then, just as she picks up the speculum, she starts to small-talk. "How's the writing?" I don't really want to talk about it when I'm fully clothed and sitting up. What makes her think I'd want to talk about it in a paper gown with my feet in stirrups?

I try to answer as best I can, but what I really want is to ask her to focus on what she's doing. I'm afraid she might miss something during our catch-up. We're not having coffee.
So, lately I've wondered if I should see someone else. I feel like her interest is waning; there could be a disease that she's overlooked. Every question I ask is met with the same low-key response: "Don't worry." It all started a few years ago when I asked if I could get the ebola virus from having sex. After that, she lost interest. How is it she hasn't found anything wrong in 25 years? Thousands of dollars on appointments and I don't have a condition to show for it. It was time for a change.

I asked Liza if she would give me the name of her gynaecologist. "Don't go to mine," she said. "She's the worst." She is "gyno to the stars". If you're not Sharon Stone, your vagina doesn't seem that important.

I moved on. I asked Joanna.

"Mine is cold and mean," she said. "You'd hate her." What's wrong with cold and mean? At least it's direct.

I persisted for the number. "I'm not giving it to you." She said: "It's hard enough to get an appointment as it is." Apparently, cold and mean is a hot commodity in gynaecology.
Katie, too, had issues with hers. "She's depressing. Last time she told me my eggs were getting old." That didn't seem so bad. At least she left with something to worry about.

I'd discovered a phenomenon. Every woman I know hates her gynaecologist. And yet none of them switch. It's like housekeepers. Everyone I know who has a housekeeper says they're not great, but they can't be bothered to find a new one. They already know the routine. Who wants to explain it all again and get new keys made? That's reason enough to stick with someone for life.

Just as I was about to give up, my friend Kim told me her gynaecologist was a dream and I should make an appointment. I was filled with hope. Then she gave me her name. It was my one. I'd forgotten. Years ago I'd recommended her when Kim had cystitis. She said she was still as enthusiastic as ever, so I had to accept my gynaecologist's problem wasn't vaginas in general. It was me.