Friday, December 13, 2013

A Visit to the Russian Gynecologist

Until today, my contact with Russian gynecology was limited to an ob-gyn I met at 3am outside of a club during my first week in Moscow. His name was Evgeniy, and to prove that he was a real doctor, he asked me about my most recent menstrual cycle. I wish I could say I ended the conversation there, but unfortunately I plowed ahead in halting Russian, with poor Molly being forced to fill in the gaps when my vocabulary was lacking. We never did figure out if he was a legit practitioner of the gynecological arts, but rest assured I did not contact him when I decided to see an ob-gyn this week.

A gynecological exam is already rife with opportunities for awkwardness, and that’s before you factor in a language barrier. Take my first visit to the ginec√≥logo in Spain, for example. After being asked if I had “relations,” I started listing all my immediate family members. I’d gotten no further than my sisters before I realized I was answering an entirely different question.

“You mean sexual relations, don’t you?” I asked, turning red. The doctor nodded wordlessly, obviously fighting laughter.

Unfortunately, the embarrassment didn’t end there. A year later, after failing to specify I wanted a female doctor, I found myself in a backless gown with a Basque dude looking down the business end of my birthing canal. My Spanish had improved significantly since my previous visit, but I still found myself conflicted as to whether I should use the formal or informal manner of address. Once someone’s given you a pelvic exam, you’d be hard-pressed to get any more familiar than that.

Bearing in mind my Spanish visits to the ob-gyn, I knew that this was going to have to be done in English. I made an appointment at the European Medical Center, not surprised that I would be seen by a doctor named Olga. It seems that Soviet parents of the 80s were just as uninspired as their “Jessica”-happy American counterparts.

Olga’s English was flawed, but far superior to my Russian. She quickly dispelled the concerns that had brought me into her office in the first place, reminding me that no good can come of WebMD self-diagnoses. Then she got down to business, giving me a guided tour of my reproductive system by way of ultrasound.

“I have made the zoom, so don’t be concerned. I promise your uterus is not too big.”

Even if I had any idea what the size of a normal uterus was, I doubt it would be high on my list of body image issues. I didn’t bother explaining that to Olga though, and let her finish the “control.” By the end of the exam, she declared me to be in perfect health.

“You have a very happy and healthy uterus!” Thanks, O. We get that a lot.


  1. Hahahaha The best way to learn a language! Visit the medical facilities of the country!

  2. First time OB appointments are really awkward and embarrassing. I'm sure your OB knows that. Hehe! However, when they make you feel comfortable, all that awkwardness will be transformed into trust and friendship. Just imagine them as your best friend who wants you to give birth to a healthy and jolly baby. Thanks for the share! :)

    Georgia Ferguson @ Family Medicine Of SouthBend, P.C

  3. Jessica, are you having a healthy and jolly baby?