After the Tree planting and the Hike that gave me crazy sunburn all over my shoulders, I opened my legs voluntarily to strangers for the first time.
They say I talk about things that make people uncomfortable but if that’s what gonna pass the message around, I will gladly do it.
I had just walked into a local maternity hospital to check on a someone but traffic happened so I was early. Looking around, this Muslim guy asked what I was looking for. While explaining the whole thing, I saw this post about the HPV vaccine for girls and this reminded me of this roll out : https://www.health.go.ke/kenya-launches-hpv-vaccine-with-gavi-support/
This made me remember that I hadn’t done my due diligence of getting a pap smear yet I was sexually active. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Me saying that I haven’t been dating for over three years doesn’t mean I have been on dry spell all that long. As much as I strongly talk about taking HIV rapid tests before sex even if protected (https://www.sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke/2021/12/30/personal-tips-on-buying-hiv-self-test-kits-in-kenya/), what I fear deep inside, the most, is Cervical Cancer.
At least with HIV, you can detect is and take drugs and live long but cervical cancer is tricky. According 2018’s data, 9 Kenyan women die from cervical cancer EVERDAY. Unlike HIV, HPV is not fair, in that as much as both can be sexually transmitted, HPV only affects women and notoriously passed across by men.
You remember when I argued why I can’t be with a man who is involved in any way with a woman? It doesn’t matter if I am the ‘main’ woman which I think is bullshit. I won’t fight it because this is someone who is willing to be put me at risk. Yes, you might get tested before sex, but what about HPV. Hell No.
Anyway, this guy gets excited my unusually inquiry and as much as one woman said, I will have to pay consultation while the other confirmed that it’s free but Its Sunday so it can’t be done. This guy kinda made it happen which made me suspect he had some kinda influence in the place. Maybe a doctor or sth. He didn’t seem interested but excited about the idea of a woman who wasn’t ashamed of talking about vaginas. Not knowing who he was, I shamelessly asked, “will I have to get naked?” 🤣🤣 I honestly like the way he fidgeted in his seat and smiled sheepishly. Probably not a doctor. I asked if it would be a lady or a man. Yeah, I am one of those ‘annoying’ people asking a hundred questions. I mean, that’s why I am a scientist right? We ask questions and seek for answers.
That’s the first time my body insecurities came alive. Been seen naked and not for pleasure is different. My legs lay apart and raised as if I was about to give birth (only seen in movies) in this tiny room with two women touching my genital area as if I am in a Salon and women are admiring my hair by touching and people commenting about it.
They inserted this plastic transparent thing after applying gel on it. Paranoid me who has never used contraceptive pills leave alone lubricators or even painkillers, I asked to see the ingredients of the gel. Asked my age, and asked if I was ovulating. Apparently when you ovulate, your cervix makes a hole and has a lot of mucus which I had had. I have never known that or even known when I am ovulating. Their questions made me start talking about my menstrual history and the sense of womanhood kinda faded. However it made my previous 23 year old dream come alive again (for the 2minutes) and viable sperm donors to have kids with is currently one who sadly doesn’t like me back. Oh yeah, I still don’t want kids, I was having moment.
Then they said, it seemed okay but went ahead and sprayed vinegar inside my vagina (on the cervix) and I spent a whole 2 MINUTES looking at their eyes which were looking inside a part of my body I have never seen.
When I was done, I found this Somali guy (I should have said Somali earlier not Muslim, Somali doesn’t necessarily mean Muslim right? What an assumption) who asked to know the results. All I could think about was that spray bottle of the Vinegar that is the same as the one I have for my hair at home. Did the really Sanitize it before putting the Vinegar? How pure is the Vinegar?
They filled my details into this huge logbook with Ministry of Health headline and that’s when I realized why my test was free. Anyway, seriously, Get tested. Cervical Cancer progresses to fast to even catch it. Go open your legs. Send your sexually active females to go get open their legs and hopefully get better professionals. However, I don’t regret it, it’s better that than getting it when it’s too late.
So there is more to this testing where they can get your cells samples and observe, so I am going to do that so as to be sure.
Image Credit: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/screening.htm
A scientist who writes about her daily experiences. Most are drafts but some are publicly shared, like this one you just read.