The gynecologist answers the questions you never dared to ask
Read Fanny Falkman Grindals, Swedish manager of VagiVital, personal interview with gynecologist Arne Rådestad, who answers all the questions you never dared to ask the gynecologist.
I will never forget my first gynecologist! He (yes because it was a male gynaecologist) was an older man with a somewhat soft, feminine aura and he was so incredibly pussytiv! At each visit, he loudly and cheerfully praised my amazing vulva, without being in any way unpleasant or off-limits. And by that I don't mean the usual and somewhat tired statement that "everything looks normal", but with exuberant devotion and great delight he loudly proclaimed his praises. He did it in such a delicate and respectful way that I never experienced it as unpleasant or dirty. Instead, after each visit, I left strengthened and feeling proud and happy about my amazing vagina! It later turned out that my friend who went to the same gynecologist naturally also received the same pussytiv treatment - but it didn't really matter. It felt real and we both left with a proud smile on our faces!
After all, a gynecologist visit is part of many women's lives, but it can also be an emotionally challenging experience for many. Having to share the most intimate part of one's body with a stranger, even a medical professional, can make women feel both uncomfortable and nervous.
A common feeling that many women can also experience during a gynecologist visit is shame. Having to take off your clothes and expose your body to scrutiny can feel both uncomfortable and shameful. Most women who have lain with their legs in the air in a reclining chair can probably recognize themselves in the comment: "Well, we'll get down a little more with the butt". Whereupon you sort of get to push the entire vagina forward a little closer to the gynecologist's face while having an ongoing conversation. It's a strange and almost comical situation, but I'd like to think that it can still be something pussytiv!
When I myself lie there in the gynecology chair, I have often thought about what the gynecologist really thinks about examining women's vagina every day and why do you actually choose to become a gynecologist? But I never dared to ask. Until now.
I therefore interviewed gynecologist Arne Rådestad, associate professor and specialist in gynecology. Arne is also one of VagiVital's advisors in the V Academy, which consists of specialists in various clinical areas and is an advisor to our clinical studies.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE TO BECOME A GYNECOLOGIST?
"From the beginning, I wanted to become a pediatrician, but during the latter part of my public service, what we call AT, I served in a women's clinic and I thought it was so much fun, so I continued to substitute there as an assistant doctor. As a gynecologist, I had to deal with both surgery and also take care of deliveries and pregnancies - I found that exciting. It has always felt exciting to take care of children who are in the mother's womb and then born, to try to help in those contexts when children are born and to take care of the women who carry the children was very fun. After all, when you start to know things yourself in a field, you feel that you are given more responsibility and then the interest in the specialty also broadens and you see other possibilities than before I started at women's clinic. I therefore chose to specialize in gynecology and childbirth as it was then called.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SPECIALIST IN GYNECOLOGY?
"To become a specialist, you have to work at a surgery, anesthesia and women's clinic for five years to gain enough experience to become a specialist in the field. Then you must learn about both pregnancy, childbirth and women's diseases and also become good at diseases that women can get but which are within other specialties such as surgery, anesthesia and medicine. Eventually I realized that if I was going to be good at something, I had to choose a specialization and then I became more and more interested in gynecology and therefore wrote my doctorate in gynecology. It often happens automatically that you also stay within the field you have chosen for your doctoral thesis. I was very satisfied and have not regretted my choice.”
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON REASONS FOR CHOOSING TO BECOME A GYNECOLOGIST?
"It's probably interest in the existential questions of life; birth, fertility, sexuality and you also have the opportunity to take an interest in infertility and women's diseases that can lead to death. You get all of life's important existential questions gathered in one specialty.
I think it's these existential questions that matter so much and are the most rewarding. That you meet all the important contents; birth and death.
You also often gain the trust of the patient who shares her experience and tells you things from her life that you would never get to know in other contexts."
WHAT IS A GOOD GYNECOLOGIST?
"Short answer is good treatment and a listening attitude and curiosity. Interest in people and that one does not limit oneself to raising important and sensitive problems and difficult questions either.
But you also must not step in and brudust confront patients about things they don't want to talk about - both sensitivity and curiosity are important."
HOW ARE YOU RECEIVED WHEN YOU TELL SOMEONE THAT YOU WORK AS A (MALE) GYNECOLOGIST?
"I am usually greeted with curiosity. I have sometimes met men who have had a bit of a rambunctious attitude and who like to joke about it, but most are curious about what you can do as a gynaecologist. Above all, men generally have no idea what it means to work as a gynaecologist."
WHAT IS THE MOST FUN ABOUT YOUR JOB?
"It is precisely that you get close to the core issues in life and that you gain trust from the patients who tell you things that you might not even tell your closest ones."
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
"Yes, as a gynecologist it is enough to be able to win the woman's trust - what makes her feel seen, heard and listened to. That she really feels that she has gotten what she expected from the visit to the gynecologist. To be able to provide information that is both clear and comprehensible and sometimes to be able to give reassurance to those who are terminally ill."
WHAT CAN BE GOOD TO KNOW FOR A WOMAN WHO HAS NEVER BEEN TO THE GYNECOLOGIST?
"For the young woman who has never been to the gynecologist, I would like to advise that she can seek a gynecologist, but this does not mean that she needs to have a gynecological examination, but you can have an advisory conversation with the gynecologist as the first visit. Do not think that you have to be gynecologically examined during a visit to the gynecologist. It is important for really young women to know. Also feel free to bring a partner or friend on your first visit for support.”
When the woman has gained trust, they often want to be examined, but whether it takes one, two or three visits before you get there is different. If you see the gynecologist as a consulting doctor in the area where they have questions that you want answered, then the visit will less awkward."
WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR WOMEN BEFORE A GYNECOLOGIST VISIT?
"To women who have been to the gynecologist before, my advice is to prepare by writing down the questions you want answered so that you don't forget to ask what you want answered due to stress. Don't choose a gynecologist based on their gender - unless you have specific reasons.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE VAGINA SINCE YOU STARTED WORKING AS A GYNECOLOGIST?
"During my years as a gynecologist, I have seen, above all, what an enormous amount of variation there is in the female genitalia - both in how it looks and also how it is experienced by the patients. My task as a gynecologist is to try to convey how wide the normal variation is, so that women should not lock themselves into the fact that a vagina should look and function in a certain way. I often meet women who haven't seen many other women's vaginas and haven't always seen their own either. I often ask if they look at their vagina with a mirror. There are, for example, certain skin diseases in the vagina that you can follow the progress of yourself, instead of going to the doctor. Then you can search when there is a deviant appearance or something unusual happens. Unfortunately, there are not that many women who regularly look at their vagina with a mirror and some have never done it. You must have a mirror to be able to see the entire vulva. Many have had to settle for comments from their partners, and it's not always to their own advantage either. It has never been given the opportunity to compare with images other than those from pornography and it does not give a real picture and therefore I try to convey the great variety of the vagina.”
IS IT USUAL FOR WOMEN TO CHOOSE A GYNECOLOGIST BASED ON THE GENDER OF THE GYNECOLOGIST?
"No, I can't say it's common, but it happens that some women only want a female or a male gynecologist. It can be due to cultural reasons or something that has been experienced in the past that is associated with the male or female gender, where an event has been unpleasant, painful or threatening. Then you are marked by past events.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING OPTED OUT AS A MALE GYNECOLOGIST?
"I don't take it personally if a woman not chooses me because I'm a male gynecologist, it's not personal but often lies with them themselves. There have been experiences that make them choose based on those experiences.”
CAN YOU GO TO THE GYNECOLOGIST WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR MENSTRUAL?
"Yes, you can do that because the gynecologist does not back down to examine a woman who wants to be examined just because she is menstruating. Then there are many women who believe that they should not have their period when they visit the gynecologist, but that is not true. If the woman has a problem, she should see a gynecologist regardless of whether she is menstruating or not."
CAN A GYNECOLOGIST SEE IF YOU ARE A VIRGIN, HAS GIVEN CHILDREN OR MASTURBATED?
"If by virginity you mean that if you have had penetrative intercourse, the gynecologist cannot see it. It is also not possible to see during a gynecological examination whether a woman has given birth, but you can of course make interpretations if, for example, the woman has a scar in the vulva or if the woman has a scar on her abdomen where a caesarean section is usually performed, then it can be assumed that she has given birth but there is no proof of that and it is not possible to say for sure. It is also not possible to see if a woman has masturbated"
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GO TO THE GYNECOLOGIST?
"There are no recommendations that can be said to be supported by research, but I think you should go when you have a gynecological problem. Then, of course, there are certain check-ups you should do if you have cell changes or if you follow a disease process in the vagina, but in general - a woman does not need to go for health checks at the gynecologist if she is problem-free."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU THINK IS DISGUSTING DURING A GYNECOLOGICAL EXAMINATION?
"It is very rare that something is experienced as disgusting and "disgusting" is also a very strong word, I have never experienced anything that would be disgusting. However, there is an event that is unusual and that is when someone has forgotten a tampon that has been sitting for several days and then there is a growth of smelly bacteria in the tampon. It can give off a very strong smell but that is the tampon's fault and if you remove the tampon it will be fine. So forgotten tampons can smell really bad but it's an easy problem to solve. I don't think it's disgusting either.
You can find VagiVital V Cleanser intimate wash here
DOES IT MATTER TO YOU IF A WOMAN IS SHAVED OR NOT?
“No, not for me. I don't care if you are shaved and not your legs either for that matter"
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT TO THINK ABOUT AS A GYNECOLOGIST WHEN SEEING A PATIENT?
"Besides the fact that it is important to create trust and to listen to the patient, it is also very important as a gynecologist to keep up to date on science so that you maintain a high level of competence. Women today often come to the gynecologist with knowledge that they have acquired in various ways, not least from the internet, and then you as a gynecologist should be well-read and be able to answer the women's questions. To be able to do that, you have to be able to maintain your competence by continuing to educate yourself.”
IS THERE ANYTHING IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE WOMAN BEFORE A VISIT?
"Not, really, I don't need to know anything, she can come as a blank slate. What I can help her with is what she brings up during the visit. She does not need to notify the reason for her visit in advance. I myself get annoyed at clinics that require you as a patient to state the reason why you want to book a visit. I think it is the wrong question to ask on the phone to a woman who has not yet gained trust in you and whom you do not know. I think it's a crazy question. It is a question that she can answer when she is there and she should not have to answer that when she book the appointment.
DO YOU SEE A NEED FOR MORE RESEARCH IN WOMEN'S HEALTH?
"Female sexual desire is an area where research could increase because sexual function is something that women value very highly when women are asked questions about quality of life and what is important to them. Even today, more and more women see me for impaired/diminished sexual desire. It's a soft topic that isn't researched that much, but which is of great importance and which women themselves also value highly."
VagiVital AktivGel for dry mucous membranes & pain during intercourse can be found here.
IS THERE ANY AREA THAT HAS EVOLVED OVER YOUR YEARS AS A GYNECOLOGIST?
"Yes, in gynecological cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. There, a lot of progress have happened, which have increased treatment options and reduced morbidity"
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Take care of your vagina❤️ and choose a gynecologist who treats you Pussytiv!
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