Guest Blog: Facing the Pap Smear; Men need them too
By Volunteers @ PPSAT | June 13, 2018, 1:46 p.m.
Jordan C., a storyteller in WV, shares his experience accessing reproductive health care as a transgender man.
The dreaded words that most individuals cringe at the thought of. The itchy paper, uncomfortable dance to find just the perfect place for your bottom, and let us not forget the encouraging prompt of "okay go ahead and relax your knees, completely open" all cause some level of embarrassment for even the most body positive person.
These exams can be crippling for individuals who identify as female to male transgender (FTM). An FTM individual was assigned female at birth, however identify as male. Each person's journey looks different, with surgical, hormonal, and lifestyle options available, there is one thing that is shared by all; we are males in the world with vaginas.
FTM individuals, up until undergoing gender reassignment surgery on the genitals, need to be receiving pelvic and pap examinations. Ensuring your reproductive health is vital to your overall health and happiness. While we are still at risk for STI's, we also need to monitor for abnormal cell changes, infections and disorders, and changes related to hormone use. Your personal exam schedule will depend on your specific needs, however every 3 to 5 years is often the recommended standard.
Finding a provider knowledgeable of issues affecting someone in our situation can feel daunting. Planned Parenthood offers annual exams with many LGBTQ locations across the country. I am under the care of a local OB/GYN who provides care to a majority of FTM individuals in my area. Your primary care physician may also be able to complete the exam.
FTM individuals are at risk of the same reproductive complications as everyone else, however the exam can feel invasive, embarrassing, or cause body dysphoria. Below are some helpful tips to smooth these appointments:
- Take a trusted friend or family member with you
Call and ask providers if they have experience with FTM individuals
Use a guided meditation or listen to music for distraction
Do not overthink it
If you are uncomfortable, speak up.
Regardless of how you go about accessing this exam, ensure you do! Maintaining your reproductive health is essential to your overall health and happiness. Take the step to seek care for you, so that continuing on this journey is safe.