So if you didn’t already know, I’m on the speech team for JMU and being on this team has allowed me to see some pretty amazing speeches. This Saturday, I viewed a speech that was fanstastic and had me yelling PREACH in my mind the whole time. First off I would like to say what kind of speech the student was competing in; the event is After Dinner Speaking. After Dinner Speaking is a persuasive or informative speech that uses comedic elements to get an issue across to an audience. Now that I’ve got that explanation out of the way, I must, must, tell you about an ADS speech that I had the privilege to witness.
The ADS was all about the vagina, to be more specific, it was about how the medical field takes advantage of women by making us think that pelvic exams are crucial to our health. The speaker ended up giving out the audience handouts in which they state, “A full pelvic exam should be reserved for women experiencing symptoms such as vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding pain, urinary problems or sexual dysfunction.”
We are made to believe that pelvic exams are necessary even if we don’t face those symptoms, and these exams are pervasive and can make the woman never want to go back to the gyno. The speaker shares her own personal experience, which I think is one of the most effective tools of advocacy. The speaker talks about how when she got a pelvic exam she felt uncomfortable and she states, the doctor gave her no warning and if she wanted to ask follow up questions she would have to set up another appointment. Each appointment, making the woman get more money out of her pocket, for an exam she didn’t necessarily need in the first place. Another point that I thought was interesting is the fear of women not wanting to go back can deter them from getting tested for STI’s and also going in to receive birth control. This point saddened me, because these test and medications should take precedence, but it seems they are on the back burner.
The last point I want to bring up is our inability to talk about women’s health. This speech was the first time I heard the vagina a lot in a public realm. Because our society fails to talk about vaginal health, our body part is once again silenced. I really liked this speech, because it gave attention to an issue that I don’t hear many of us talking about. In the end the speaker encouraged us to find doctors that we can be more open with and will have open dialogues about pelvic exams and other exams, medications, and procedures that go along with our health.
Below I will list out a few facts I have gathered from the handout along with source links so you can do even further research.
1. All women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test.
2. Beginning at age 30, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years. This is called co-test and should continue until age 65.
3. Another reasonable option for women 30 to 65 is to get tested every 3 years with just the Pap test.
4. Women of any age should NOT be screened every year by an screening method unless there are symptoms to prompt it.*