Autism-Friendly OB-GYNs

Nominatissima just published an absolutely fantastic post that provides a list of what OB-GYNs could do to make gynecological services more autism-friendly. I hope that as many people as possible read this post and then forward it to others, link to it or quote from it.

Visiting an OB-GYN is torture for an autistic person. I always keep putting off my appointment for as long as I can. I know that I’m placing myself at risk by doing so but the whole thing is very painful exactly for the reasons listed in Nominatissima’s enlightening post.

In grad school, I had on OB-GYN who kept making jokes during the whole process. Probably, she thought she was going to help me relax this way. However, I need a lot more time than an NT person to process a joke even under the most propitious of circumstances. In a high-stress environment such as an OB-GYN’s office, I’m really in no condition to process humor.

“Why aren’t you laughing? It’s funny, just laugh,” she kept saying. Honestly, it felt like badgering. And the problem is that when I feel badgered, I can’t speak. So you can imagine how much I enjoyed the whole situation.

The OB-GYN I got after I asked to be switched from the comedian was a chatty type. She was like one of those hair-dressers who seem to think that entertaining the customer with inane questions is part of the job description. Believe me, the last thing an autistic person wants to do when she lies there with her legs spread open and a stranger rummaging there for non-sexual purposes is to be questioned about stuff that has nothing to do with gynecological health. “So what are you doing for Labor Day?” is really not a necessary question to ask in this situation.

The next OB-GYN was an exclamatory type. You know those people who put an exclamation into every sentence? They are definitely not the kind of people you want to let anywhere near your genitals. “Ahha!”, “Ay yay yay!”, “Wow!” and “Ouch!” are not things you want to hear from a person who stares into your vagina. Comments of the “Hmmm. . . Interesting. . .” variety are also not necessary.

It would be great if people acquainted themselves with Nominatissima’s post and a conversation about how to make gynecological exams more bearable for autistics began.

9 thoughts on “Autism-Friendly OB-GYNs

  1. I wanted to ask RE:

    *It’s another year before I have to get a pap smear, being 22,*

    I thought that pap smears started from an old age, like 45+ or 50+, and that if f.e. one is a virgin there is no need to visit OB-GYN at all until the middle-age. Is it different in US?

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  2. Hey Clarissa, Since then, Nominatissima’s blog has changed wordpress domains – updated link is here: http://quixoticautistic.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/sex-the-spectrum-autism-and-gynaecological-health/

    (And oh my goodness how relevant this is to me this week. Except my OBGYN won’t believe that there’s a 0% chance that I’m pregnant, and insists on pregnancy tests every time I come in. What a *WASTE* of time and money.)

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  3. Ugh. With no intention to minimize your experience as an autistic, these situations can be ridiculous by any standard. In one single visit, I had a gynecologist tell me that I have a beautiful cervix, stroke my thighs and call me a beautiful girl (I was having a painful procedure – it was more like one soothing a beast than a sexual thing), and compare my cervix with my mom’s. Needless to say, I’ll not be seeing him again unless there aren’t any other qualified doctors in the state.

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