As a gynecologist who also happens to be more bouncy cheerleader than stuffed shirt, I’m pretty much the beck-and-call girl for most of my girlfriends when it comes to girly parts and the questions you’d only ask your gynecologist if she was your best friend. Which means I also get asked to tell stories at parties, the way I did in “Gyno Guzzling: A Vagina Drinking Game”.
I happen to love vaginas, so my goal is not to be irreverent or make fun of people who have suffered from vaginal misfortune, but it does happen to make for fun dinnertime conversation, as those who have been to my dinner parties can attest. But for those of you who have missed my dinner parties, I wanted to invite you to sit down with a group of friends, pour yourself a glass of wine, and respectfully honor some of the women who have come across my radar in the ten years I practiced gynecology. So here’s a toast. And a warning. This post is not for the faint of heart. To VAGINAS!
You Stole My Labia
One of my patients sued me for stealing her labia. Swear to God. I performed a standard gynecologic procedure, and I swear I didn’t steal any body parts, but a few days after I met her, another doctor called my office and said, “I’ve got this woman here, Mabel Nile. She says you removed her uterus and her bladder and cut off her labia and licked her clitoris, with no anesthesia, right there in your office. But I took a look at her, and all her parts appear to be where they’re supposed to be. What did you do to her, anyway?”
A few days later, I got a letter from Mabel, addressed to “Dr. Rankinstein.” On the outside of the envelope was a child-like drawing of a spiky instrument next to two little rectangular boxes. Written on the envelope in red pen was, “You have something of mine, and I want it back.” Inside, I found a note, handwritten on lined notebook paper with scratchy, halting letters. “You stole my labia. Where did you put them? In the lab?”
A few weeks later, I received a notice that Mabel was suing me for stealing her labia. When I showed up in court, Mabel was already sitting on the other side at the plaintiff’s table. The judge said, “Ms. Nile. Please state your case.”
“That doctor…” She turned and pointed a sausage finger at me. “SHE STOLE MY LABIA!” she yelled, slamming her fists on the podium. “She’s got ‘em in a jar somewhere. In the lab. They’re gone. Wanna see?” She started to pull down her plaid pants. “SHE’S HOLDING THEM HOSTAGE! I just want my labia! TELL HER TO GIVE ME BACK MY LABIA!” she bellowed. The bailiff stood up beside her, but the judge shook her head. Mabel stared into space, and the judge asked her to take her seat.
The judge shook her head and ruled in my favor. I won my counter-suit for malicious prosecution, and Mabel still owes me $100.
That was many years ago, and I have long since forgiven Mabel. I hope she found help, and most of all, I hope she finally discovered that her labia are right there between her legs, where they’ve been all along.
The Passion Flower
It was 3:00a.m., and Mildred, a frequent flyer to our ER, showed up for the umpteenth time complaining of pain in her “passion flower.” The nurse felt compelled to warn me, “Just so you know, Mildred uses her vagina like a purse.”
Thinking the nurse was euphemistically informing me that Mildred was a prostitute, I asked how long she’d been hooking. The nurse explained, “No, she’s not a prostitute. She literally uses her vagina like a purse. She stuffs it with money, Motrin, keys… you know, purse stuff.”
I went to see Mildred, who politely shook my hand. “Oh, hi Doc,” she said. “Let me get ‘er ready for ya, sweetie.” She then proceeded to pull down her pants and begin yanking things out of her vagina like it was Mary Poppins’s magic carpet bag (or, in this case, carpet box). There was a plastic baggie of pills, a wad of bills, a tube of lipstick, a pen. Half expecting her to pull out a red scarf that magically turns into a bouquet of flowers, I was on the verge of busting out laughing, when I suddenly realized that there was something very wrong with this picture.
It’s tempting to laugh when gynecologists tell vagina stories. But sitting in that room with Mildred, I realized that something tragic probably happened that made Mildred think using her vagina as a handbag was a good idea. My heart filled with compassion for her, and when I asked her flat out whether she had a history of sexual abuse, she put her head on my chest and cried like the eight-year old she was when she was first violated. She admitted that she hated her “passion flower” and figured, since it had done nothing but bring her trouble, she might as well put it to good use. After our early-morning chat about owning and respecting her beautiful, sacred yoni, Mildred swore she would buy a purse and save her passion flower for the purposes God intended. God only knows what happened to her, but my heart still aches to think of her.
Vines Growin’ Outta My Jojo
A young woman named ChiChi showed up in the emergency room. The chief complaint listed on her chart was, “I got vines growin’ outta my jojo.”
Approaching her, I asked, “What’s the matter, ma’am?”
ChiChi stared at me, wide-eyed and said, “I was fine, and then a couple days ago, I start feeling something tickling me, and I look down there, and there’s vines hangin’ outta me.”
I snapped on a pair of gloves and pulled out my speculum, getting ready to examine her in the stirrups. But when she opened her legs, an awful stench filled the emergency room. And sure enough, this lady had vines growin’ outta her jojo. I tried to examine her, but I couldn’t get inside. The speculum wouldn’t budge, as if something was obstructing the vagina.
“Honey, are you sure you didn’t put something in here?” I asked, clamping onto whatever was obstructing the speculum with my instrument. I wrangled and pulled, like I was yanking out a baby, when plop! Out came this nasty grey thing with, well, vines hanging off of it.
Clueless as to what ChiChi might have just birthed out her vagina, I asked again, “Are you sure you didn’t put something up inside your vagina?”
ChiChi looked at me as if a light bulb just went off and said, “Oh, that? It’s just a potato. MeeMaw told me if I put a potato in there, I wouldn’t get pregnant, and wouldn’t you know, it worked!”
True story, I swear. Disturbing? Yes. Hilarious? Sure. But there’s also an important moral here: Please, please educate your daughters about birth control.
I Warned You
If you’re squeamish, this is the one you’ll want to skip. You’ve been properly warned.
Ellie, a gorgeous, well-dressed professional woman, came to my office complaining of vaginal itching and a feeling “like something is moving around inside.” I performed the routine examination and noticed a thick white discharge that was suggestive of a yeast infection. I swabbed the discharge with a Q-Tip, and slapped some of it on a slide. Noting that the slide cover wouldn’t lay flat, I headed to the microscope to figure out what the obstruction was.
Then I saw it: a maggot, slithering on the slide like a wiggly piece of rice.
Now, you don’t know me, so you have no idea how repulsed I am by wormy things. I nearly dropped out of medical school when we had to study the worms that crawl under your skin and dart across your eyeballs (another story for another book). But no one had ever prepared me to find maggots in a vagina. Surely, I had to be mistaken. I took another look. But there it was – up close and personal. One big, fat, live MAGGOT.
Fighting back vomit, I sought counsel from my partners. Certainly, I couldn’t just barge into the room and tell this woman she had maggots in her vagina. If someone told me I had maggots in my vagina, they’d have to either anesthetize me or kill me. There’s no way I could live in my skin after that kind of news. But I didn’t want to lie to her either.
After regaining my composure, I questioned Ellie. Had she put any food up her vagina? Maybe a little funky sex play? Any recent travel to odd places? Swimming in any strange bodies of water? Other sexual oddities I should know about? No. No. No. Ellie said she lived an ordinary life, had a long-term monogamous relationship, worked as an accountant, and never traveled.
After examining her again and shooting water into her vagina with a syringe to “clean her out,” I discovered two more maggots. We’re not talking piles of maggots here. Just three total. But how in the world did they get there? I have no idea. Ultimately, I told Ellie she had a minor infection (infestation?) and a series of pills should clear it up for her. Two weeks later, after treating her for, well, worms, a repeat examination revealed that she was free and clear. The itching and sensation of movement resolved. A happy ending to a creepy (no pun intended) story.
Although I’ll prattle away, telling these stories around a dinner table to my BFFs, I’m always a wee bit reluctant to post them on the internet, not only because my patients might read them (don’t worry — all names and identifying details have been changed, so if this sounds like you, relax. It probably isn’t). I’m also reluctant because it’s a fine line between opening up dialogue about a part of our bodies we don’t often discuss and irreverently making fun of what makes us uniquely female. As women, we get denigrated and dismissed enough. We don’t need gynecologists making it worse.
So I hope this post achieves my goal- to educate, enlighten, and entertain in a loving, respectful way. Do you think I achieved that goal? What comes up for your when you read these stories? Please share your thoughts — and your own vagina stories — in the comments below.
Here’s to having Vagina Dialogues!
With all due respect,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.