When you have two babies in less than two years, you can’t help but spend a lot of time in the gynecologist’s office. After all my visits, you’d think I’d no longer be fazed by the way things are done around here, but after each visit, I leave either laughing or shaking my head. I’ve asked around, it’s not just me—it’s France.
Let me share with you some insights into the world of gynécologie en France. Here is everything you could want to know about the French gynecologist:
1. He will tell you to have sex with your husband.
This is just what every overdue pregnant woman wants to hear when it’s 90 degrees outside, and you have no air conditioning in your house. They call it the “Italian Induction” here in France, and my doctor was not shy about prescribing it when I got close to my due date. The funny thing is, it worked like a charm, but my husband is really private about these kind of things, so don’t tell him I told you.
2. He will have you strut across his office half naked.
Nudity is like breathing in a gyno’s office; it just happens. My doctor has an “undressing area” just beside the examining table where you can hang up your clothes. Once your clothes are off, you’re then expected to saunter over to the scale to be weighed. The scale is clear across the room—far, far away from where you’ve left your pants.
I’d say he was being a creep, but he didn’t seem to even notice me pass by. The same rules apply if my husband is there for the appointment; everyone gets a show. So if he was being a creep, he’s OK with my husband witnessing. It’s always best to make a mental note to wear a long shirt on appointment days. Which brings me to my next point.
3. He will not give you a sheet to cover up with.
After your half-naked self has been weighed, you’ll hop up on the examining table, but don’t hold your breath waiting for something to cover up with because it will not arrive. In United States, you are left alone in the room to undress, given something to cover up with, then the doctor knocks to see if it’s OK to come in, and the entire appointment is done with you completely covered by a sheet or gown.
This is almost laughable to me now. Why are we so shy? Think of the exact opposite of the U.S. scenario I just described, and now you’re at a doctor’s appointment in the South of France.
4. He will tell you if it’s time to lose weight.
My friend went to her six-week postpartum appointment and was given a clean bill of health. She asked if it was OK for her to start exercising again, to which her doctor leaned forward, pinched her post-baby muffin top, gave it a little shake, and said, “Yes, you should, because it’s time to lose this.”
I was with her when she shared this story with another friend, whose response was, “I got poked in the belly at my appointment and asked if I’d started exercising yet.” Dead serious.
Perhaps the reason why “French women don’t get fat” is because no one will let them.
5. He will show you your own vagina.
I had two friends pregnant at the same time as me, and we all shared the same doctor. Over coffee one day, I said I had to leave because I had a checkup. My friend told me to make sure I didn’t look in his strategically placed mirror. I gave her a confused look, and she came back at me with, “Just don’t look in the mirror. Trust me.”
So as I lay back for my internal exam, the mirror above the sink caught my eye, and what did I do? Of course I looked in the mirror. Much to the surprise of my poor, unsuspecting eyes, I saw exactly what he sees. Thinking back to my friend’s advice I burst out laughing as I realized exactly what she was talking about. This was not the time to be laughing. And when I tried to stifle my laughter, I ended up sounding like a prepubescent school girl in a sex-ed class. He probably thought I just really enjoyed his examination.
6. He will give you your virginity back.
My first daughter’s birth was really rough. I would tell you all about it, but I don’t want to slip into post-traumatic stress disorder. When baby No. 2 was due to arrive, my doctor kept telling me what a big baby she was going to be, and I kept telling him that I was afraid my body was going to break in two and my lady parts would never recover from the sci-fi delivery that my dramatic, overactive imagination was conjuring up.
To this, he informed me that there was nothing to worry about. If I wasn’t happy with the way things were “down there” when I was done having babies, he would give me a quick surgery to make me good as new. He’d put things right back to normal; apparently this is standard care in France.
Was I experiencing yet another language barrier? I ask for clarification just to be sure.
Nope, no language barrier. He assured me that he could magically transform my vagina into that of a pre-childbirth goddess. Those weren’t his exact words of course, but it was his exact message. There were a few catches though: I had to be sure that I was finished having kids, it was going to hurt, recovery would take about a month, and the next time I had sex would feel like *ouch* the first time.
I do believe this magic doctor just offered me my innocence back?! Well, that gives a whole new meaning to “born again virgin” now doesn’t it?