Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A typical gynecologist visit in France

I've been back home in the States for 5 months and 1 week now. I miss France and am eagerly anticipating my return (in January-yay!). I suddenly felt the desire to blog after reading a chapter from this book called Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding her Inner French Girl. The book discusses an incident which I too experienced firsthand (and yet forgot to blog about!).

Going to the gynecologist in France for the first time can be a bit intimidating. Mine didn't speak a word of English so I always had to learn a bit of medical terminology before my appointment.

When I got there, we talked for a little bit and then she would tell me to undress completely. She didn't leave me alone for a few minutes to undress or give me a flimsy paper-robe to cover myself with- instead, she simply waited there while I got undressed. I then wondered why I was feeling shy about this to begin with and why in America, we are so embarrassed getting undressed in front of the doctor, when in a few minutes, she or he is going to see us naked anyway. What's the big fuss about?

At the time, however, my Anglo-Saxan mind was wondering why she couldn't just leave for a few minutes to let me change in privacy. In the States, something like this would just never happen. The doctor always, without fail, leaves the room for a few minutes before the examination to let the patient undress and give him or her some privacy. Meanwhile, in France, this type of temporary seclusion is completely unnecessary; this just goes to show how the French are so blasé about nudity and much more at ease with it than we Americans are!

Another funny thing that happened during that visit: After quite timidly undressing in front of her, I lay down, ready to be examined. She then proceeded to pick up her cell phone and chat and laugh away - as she was examining me. And these were not even professional phone calls! I was pretty much in shock that this was actually happening.

Some, perhaps many, may call this unprofessional...to me, it is just French. This doctor had excellent reviews and was always fully booked - so clearly her behavior didn't bother anyone else, and was probably considered normal by the French population. She got the job done and was efficient - she just did it in a way that is completely foreign to me, as an American. Taking a personal cell phone call while examining a patient would just not happen in the States.

Needless to say, my first visit to the gynecologist was quite interesting..but also taught me a lot about the French culture and that there are some differences I will just have to adapt to!

No comments:

Post a Comment