Literally the day before January ends, I learned that January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, which prompted me to write this blog. Regardless of whether there's a month dedicated to shining light on a particular health issue, it's important to be in tune with your body and know it like you'll always know your ABCs. We should be in tune every day of the year.
A lot of lesbians (especially "gold stars") don't feel the need to see an OB/GYN. Some feel that because they're not having sex with men, they're safe. Some also don't feel comfortable with doctors, because some of them are not queer-friendly or educated about lesbian-, gay-, bisexual- and/or transgender-specific health issues.
Unfortunately, housing a cervix, a uterus, fallopian tubes and a vaginal canal makes women susceptible to a heap of health issues that have nothing to do with having sex. I'll never forget the day that I received a phone call informing me that my then-16-year-old cousin had ovarian cancer. I'd been aware of other reproductive health issues that various women in my family had faced, but I knew from that day on that I absolutely had to be aware of what might be going on with my own body.
Sure enough, a few years later, I found myself helplessly begging my doctor to give me something to cope with the pain that I was experiencing before and during my menstrual cycle. The pain was so intense that my friends and I have an ongoing joke about me putting my uterus up for sale on eBay. My doctor ended up prescribing me Naproxen, but unfortunately the prescribed dosage wasn't helping at all, so I began doubling my dosage, which still didn't work and caused me to develop an ulcer. My doctor told me to cease taking the prescription immediately, and I was then prescribed birth control. Initially I was relieved. The birth control helped manage my periods and almost made them nonexistent, but I didn't like the side effects. So I decided to ditch them, but then I was back in unbearable pain. Afterwards, my doctor recommended getting a full ultrasound, and it was only then that I found out the problem: I had cysts on my left ovary. My only options were to have surgery (though the cysts could possibly grow back after removal) or get back on birth control. I decided to do some research and opted to change my diet, but that's a whole other blog post.
No matter whom you're having sex with, it's important to get checkups, because there could be things going on with your body that have absolutely nothing to do with sexually transmitted infections. Also, in this day and age when some legislators seem to want to have control over what women are doing with their bodies, it's best to be the captain of your own ship. You can't do that without knowing what's going on in the harbor.