DEAR ABBY: I am a 33-year-old virgin, and I have never been to a gynecologist. My regular doctor said I should make an appointment to see one. That was a year or so ago. She said it was to "make sure everything was OK."
I have made the appointments, but each time, I chicken out at the last minute and cancel because I have heard that a Pap test is done and it is painful. My best friend said she cried when she had hers done. She said it hurt really bad.
I had anxiety that was really bad two years ago because of big changes in my life. Three of my uncles and two of my cousins died within months of each other. I don't want my anxiety to flare up again. Little things make me anxious, and I am thinking this might trigger an episode.
Should a woman see a gynecologist even if she is not sexually active? Also, do you bleed after a Pap test is done? Thanks, Abby! -- SCARED IN BROOKLYN
DEAR SCARED: A woman should be seen by a gynecologist if she is sexually active, or if she has reached the age of 18. She should DEFINITELY see one if her regular doctor tells her to -- so please start acting like the 33-year-old adult you are and stop listening to "horror stories" from friends. Pap smears are not painful, and women do not normally bleed after having one.
When you arrive at the gynecologist's office, a medical history will be taken -- at which time you should inform the doctor (or nurse) that you are not sexually active. Accommodations will be made for that. You will not be hurt, and everything will be fine. Now get moving, and no more excuses!