WARNING: This is a blog about my trip to the gynecologist here in Korea. You have been warned. Proceed with caution.
Just because you’re living abroad and cannot speak the language, does not mean you can forgo the normal check-ups you should get year-to-year.
Luckily, Daegu offers many English services for women needing to get the annual low-down on their down-low parts.
There are two women’s clinics in the Suseong-gu area: Women’s Medi-Park (located at Beomeo Station) or Hyosung Women’s Hospital (located between Daegu Bank station and Suseong Lake. Hint: take a taxi!).
I saw both ads in the March issue of Daegu Pockets, but had heard from co-teachers that Hyosung was probably the cheaper choice. I picked up my phone and called the number listed for Ms. Ku, the English-speaking coordinator.
Ms. Ku: 053-766-7073 (office) or 010-3026-3206 (cell). Unlike many other “english-speaking services,” Ms. Ku speaks fluent English with a near impeccable American accent. She will have no problems helping you make your appointment.
OK so you have an appointment. Hyosung Hospital is easy to find. Take the subway to Daegu Bank Station. Bus lines are the 403/427/303/939/금행2/410/425. Have a taxi take you to “Hyosung Byeongwon.” You will see a Children’s Hospital; the women’s clinic is the building next door.
Ms. Ku is located on the 1st floor in a room across from the registration desks. There, she will have you fill out a small bit of paperwork and answer a few health history questions. She will then escort you to your appointment. No need to search for floors, ask for offices, and wander lost around the hospital. Ms. Ku will be your liaison throughout the whole process.
She went into the doctor’s office and gave her my information. She introduced me to Dr. Kim and then left. Dr. Kim also spoke English incredibly well. She will go through the process and your options before the exam begins.
You have the option to receive STD-testing packages. The minimum package of 4 STD tests (including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and 2 others) costs 60,000. Other packages including testing for Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, Herpes type-2, HPV and HIV/AIDS were slightly more expensive (but still less than 100k). In America, gonorrhea and chlamydia testing is federally mandated for statistics reasons — hence they are included in the price of the exam. In Korea, the testing is not mandated. However, considering the convenience and low-cost the the testing packages, I would encourage any sexually active person to get at least the minimum package.
WARNING: In the efforts of education, the following may be too much information for some. Dudes, this is your warning to stop reading unless you are super curious what a gyno exam is really like.
I was then moved into an attached exam room. The curtain was drawn and I was told by the non-fluent assistant to undress: pants, underwear, and what I heard as shirt. American doctors usually have you completely undress and wear a full-length hospital gown so they can do a breast examination. Imagine her surprise when she walks back in and I’m fully undressed trying to cover myself up with the small wrap she gave me. Turns out she said “shoes,” not “shirt.” DO NOT TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT!!!!
As I hustled to put my shirt back on, I was led to the examination table, equipped with stirrups. The examination went surprisingly quick. Speculum here, swab there. The usual.
Then came the surprise part. An ultrasound. In America, an ultrasound for a routine pelvic exam is unheard of (unless there are concerns of problems). In Korea, an ultrasound is part of the annual checkup and only costs 30,000. I was thinking something along the lines of what I see on TV when they examine pregnant women. I was wrong. It was actually a long wand-type thing that was… ahem… inserted. She swiveled the monitor so I could see. She pointed out my cervix, uterus, even showed me what ovary would be releasing an egg this month.
(Vaginal ultrasound transducer. Don’t worry, they don’t stick the whole thing in!)
So with everything looking healthy, I was instructed to dress. The overall examination took about 10 minutes (including undressing/redressing).
She then asked me if I had any more problems to talk about. Nope? All good. She gave me a “bill” of sorts and told me to head back downstairs to pay. Once I returned to the 1st floor, I took the bill to Ms. Ku. She even double-checked each item that I was getting billed for. She then directed me to the blue counter to pay.
Ultrasound pelvic exam
4-STD testing package
= less than 30 minutes from arrival to departure
Hope this information was helpful to the waygookin women of Daegu.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment!